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Is the Great Resignation REALLY over?

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Mass layoffs. Bleak business outlooks. Rampant inflation. Entire industries struggling.

You’d be inclined to think that the Great Resignation - a term coined to cover the epidemic of workers quitting their jobs in 2021 and 2022 - is well and truly over. Look a little deeper, however, and all may not be as it seems.

Whilst job vacancies have undoubtedly fallen and the number of those out of work has risen, we still hear that talent attraction is a major challenge for many organisations. We’re also hearing from candidates that there is a great desire to move roles, despite the uncertain economy and gloomy-looking job market.

So, is the Great Resignation really over, or has it just become less obvious?


Hiring challenges persist

If the Great Resignation has ended, you’d expect that businesses would have no problem hiring the workers they need, right? Wrong.

We’re still hearing about all sorts of hiring challenges and talent shortages persisting, and many businesses are still struggling to attract the talent that they desperately need. A recent study has shown that a whopping 91% of business owners are struggling to recruit (and retain) staff, with 35% of those reporting that these hiring challenges have had a negative impact on their business.

And despite the predicted stabilisation of the labour market, there are still slightly more resignations happening now than pre-pandemic, and 23% of the UK workforce are expected to change jobs before the end of 2023 .

It’s also important to remember that certain industries are faring much, much worse than others. Healthcare, construction, and food service are just a few of the industries that have struggled to recruit enough workers to keep the wheels turning, let alone encourage growth.


Why are businesses struggling to attract talent?

Surely, if everyone is looking for a new job, it should be easy to attract talent? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. These days, priorities have shifted, and workers are being much pickier about the roles that they will consider. Businesses themselves have also become picker, expecting to hire someone ready to ‘hit the ground running’, instead of investing in training.

The predicted re-thinking of work/life priorities appears to have stuck – for some people, if not all. A good and healthy company culture now ranks higher than salary when it comes to what workers want out of their jobs.

The Cost of Living Crisis has also been a major factor in movement in the labour market, essentially pushing people around the labour market in search of a job that pays the bills – almost half of UK workers don’t have any money left in the bank at the end of the month, and people tend to gain an average salary increase of 12% when they change jobs, whereas those that stay put tend to only receive a measly 3%. This is giving people plenty of motivation to move – whilst still being picky about these moves.

It also means that jobseekers are less likely to apply for roles with a low salary (and our own research showed that 76% of jobseekers consider no salary listed in the job ad as their biggest turn-off). Nobody wants to waste all that time completing an application and, worse still, several interview stages, before finding out that the job pays less than what they are currently earning.

Hybrid and flexible working is another deal breaker for many workers. These past few years have not only proven that we can work remotely but that, for many people, the additional flexibility allows them a better work/life balance, greater productivity, and crucially - less commuting. We have become all too aware now of the effect a day in the office can have on our wallets. Many workers will simply not apply for roles that do not afford them this flexibility.


Open to Work

The truth is, job applications are actually increasing – slowly, but surely. We are seeing more people applying to job advertisements and workers are much more responsive to head-hunters reaching out to them for a confidential chat.

As many of these people are already in work, there is less of a rush to find a new role and therefore, they can be much pickier about where they chose to apply. We are also seeing workers negotiating certain package elements, such as hybrid working, when they get to final stage – and they’re less afraid to walk away from an offer they don’t deem sufficient.


People still want to quit – they’re just being quieter about it

If you think that because nobody is complaining anymore, the desire to leave has disappeared from your workforce, you’re probably wrong. These days, employees are being much quieter about their future career intentions. We are teetering on the edge of recession, after all, and nobody wants to stick their head above the parapet.

21% of workers are not satisfied with their current role – whether this be because of salary, meaningful work, development opportunities or work/life balance. These disengaged workers are less likely to be productive… and more likely to be looking elsewhere for employment.

There is also a growing number of parents who are doing the childcare maths – and finding that it just doesn’t add up. Some working parents, mostly women, find themselves worse off at the end of every month. This is simply because of the extortionate rise in the cost of childcare. Many find that these fees totally eclipse their wages, and it actually makes more financial sense to leave the workforce entirely.


What can your business do about it?

There are several things that your business can implement to protect yourself against this silent epidemic of resignations, but in order for them to work, they need to be implemented well. Many businesses threw money at the problem in 2022, without looking properly into the underlying causes of a high turnover, and this has backfired on them now.

Offer competitive remuneration

The simplest solution – and yet the most often overlooked (or ignored completely!). It's important to remember that remuneration is more than just salary. It includes benefits such as private healthcare and annual leave that goes beyond the legal minimum. There are many creative ways of ensuring your employees feel well-rewarded that isn't just a simple pay rise. Our blog here has some fantastic ideas on how to enhance your offering, without breaking the bank.


The best way to overcome hiring challenges is to not have to replace employees in the first place. If you find yourself constantly replacing leavers, then it’s time to look inwards. Why are they leaving? What can you do to improve retention? Our blog here is full of ideas to help identify the ‘why’ and get to the root of the problem.


‘Lack of development’ is quite possibly the most common reason we hear for candidates looking for a new job. Very few people wish to remain static in their careers, and by not developing your people, you are disengaging them. Not only that, but by not investing in your employees, you’re missing out on some priceless opportunities for innovation and growth!

Childcare help

As mentioned earlier in this post, childcare is expensive. Ridiculously so. And because of this, many women are choosing to leave the workforce in order to look after their children. By helping with childcare costs, either by vouchers, grants or even providing on-site facilities, you can ensure that your working parents can continue to work and you are not losing an experienced and knowledgeable employee.

At the end of the day, the vast majority of people need to work in order to pay the bills. However, attitudes towards work have changed drastically in the past few years, and many don’t want to work at a business that displays certain values or behaviours.

A surefire way to ensure a good employee pipeline is to be a good employer: just think back a decade or so and look at Google – it seemed like everybody wanted to work there because they were seen as a great employer. On-site childcare, free food, tangible learning and development opportunities, alongside other brilliant benefits, made jobs at Google incredibly attractive - they were receiving between 2 and 3 million applications each year.

This reputation came from, mostly, word of mouth. Google employees were gushing about their employer to their friends and family, and eventually word got out that Google was the business to work for – a sentiment that still stands, with Google topping the list of companies Millennials and Gen Z most want to work for.

Whilst this silent Great Resignation may seem easy to ignore, doing so could end up costing your business in the long run. By identifying why your employees are looking elsewhere and then tackling these issues, you can future proof your business.​

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Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash