The Great Resignation: An Ongoing Concern

The Great Resignation was an event that shook labour markets both in the US and in the UK, as high employment remained high not for the growth of individual businesses, but instead for the removal of workers from the employment pool entirely. Mass resignations posed a key risk to the profitability of entire sectors, and its impacts are still being felt today. But why, and how can such impacts be mitigated?

The Labour Market Overview

According to the ONS Labour Market Overview, the end of 2021 was a bellwether moment for employment in the UK. Q3 of 2021-2022 saw a record number of workers in the UK switch roles, with resignations fuelling the significant statistical change.

Why are People Resigning?

But what exactly has catalysed large numbers of people to trade up positions, leave their company or retire entirely? The reasons are many and varied, forming a complex array of factors that define the present state of employment and indeed wider society in the UK.

Firstly, it is important to make a clear distinction between the UK’s current Great Resignation saga and the US Great Resignation – which was the first major resignation event, and the one to give the phenomenon a name. In the US, large numbers of worker resignations could be attributed to the relative lack of employment protections available to workers. 

Extremely low rates of pay, coupled with poor working conditions and increased burdens of responsibility (particularly in service and hospitality businesses) saw workers in key US industries leave en-masse, causing crises within industries and forcing larger outfits to reckon with worker demands.

While some facets of the UK’s own form of Great Resignation bear relation to the US phenomenon, the specific driving forces behind them and the future intentions of leavers differ. The UK’s ‘resigners’ are not so much resigning as trading up for better prospects; stress and burn-out played a key part too, but the UK’s brand of resignation has been at a much slower pace.

How Can Businesses Retain Talented Staff

Mitigating the impact of the Great Resignation on your business is something of an unknown quantity; each business will have its own relationship to, and requirements of, staff – which could have their own separate impacts on staff retention and turnover. A good place to start would be to seek third-party opinions from consultant teams with knowledge of HR practice, for their own appraisal of your business’ stature and company culture.

While the Great Resignation was notable ‘event’ in employment – particularly in the US, where it took the form of a ‘spring’ of workers from under-recompensed positions – its impact endures, and many are still taking its lessons to heart. In general, there are some simple changes a business can make to address this.

For one, re-evaluating the pay for a given role could be key to attracting talent for the long-term. Not only this but re-addressing and expanding the perks and benefits available to a position can attract more invested interest. Today’s jobseekers are more savvy than ever to their value, and can see through business attempts to market legal requirements as ‘perks’.