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The Great Resignation

The workforce is leaving. This in turn is putting pressure on businesses every single day, from those businesses who cannot employ enough delivery drivers to those that cannot find staff who want to train to be professionals, such as accountants and solicitors.

The questions of course are:

  1. Why is it happening?
  2. Where have they all gone?
  3. What can be done to slow down the pace of the resignations?
  4. Is it a bad thing?

Why is it happening?

Menzies employee icon

The world has been through a shock with the pandemic and we have all been affected. This ranges from mild inconvenience to loss of job or post-traumatic stress. It has provided us all an opportunity to re-evaluate our working lives. Brexit has contributed as roles previously carried out by Europeans have opened. Significantly, costs have been saved by the “shelter at home” policy which has created a hybrid working culture for the whole country. Those costs have provided savings or debt repayment for some that has allowed them more freedom to choose whether they wish to continue working in the same job.

Where have they all gone?

Menzies 'EXIT' icon

Some have disappeared entirely from the workforce. An estimate puts the number somewhere in the region of 500,000 to 1,000,000 people. Some of those have retired early because they can; some have retired because they want to – even if they have not met their own criteria for retirement. Some have left the industry they used to work in and maybe that industry is simply not attracting as many people as are leaving. We are likely to see some of them back again but maybe not within the short-term. With hybrid or home working, it is currently not so important where you live compared to where your job is, and top talent are staying put in their area but finding more attractive jobs outside of it.

What can be done to slow down the pace of the resignations?

As the employment market opens within the regions, there is some attraction by offering big salaries to employees. That is not always possible and/or fair. So the focus has to be employee well-being. At Menzies we have a Better Place to Work team that focuses on being healthy, being yourself, being inclusive and being green. All of our employees have the opportunity to take part in “Make A Difference” week where they can choose a day to support people or organisations outside of our business on a voluntary basis. We have a strong Diversity, Equity and Inclusion plan which is opening the market to include people who would not have necessarily applied for jobs within our team. Should your business be considering similar?

Is it a bad thing?

The answer is yes and no. Yes it is, as businesses suffer short-term shortages of staff and will have to go through the pain of recruitment. In addition, if businesses do not get the well-being offering right, they will continue on the merry-go-round, with a revolving door of staff resignations and new hires.

But it also creates innovation as working practices will change to meet the work force availability. That is a medium-term benefit for businesses and arguably the most obvious revelation is the lack of borders when operating in a virtual environment behind your screen.

Where that leaves the economy and UK plc in the longer-term remains to be seen. With both Brexit and the Pandemic, there is no lack of job availability but as business adapts to the job market, it will cease to be an employee market when it comes to recruitment. In a worst-case scenario, there will be less jobs out there. In a best-case scenario, we will all be doing our dream job with a better work-life balance. My guess is that we will end up somewhere in between.

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