What is meant by the term ‘The Great Resignation’?

Recent reports have highlighted that between 20 and 40% of employees in the USA are considering leaving their current job, a phenomenon that has been dubbed ‘The Great Resignation’. It appears that Ireland could be following the ‘Great Resignation’ trend. A Personio survey of 2,000 employees in Britain and Ireland conducted in March 2021 found that out of the 250 Irish employees surveyed, 55% admitting they were planning to change jobs in the next year or when the economy has strengthened. Additionally, around 40% of respondents to a survey of around 1,000 Irish employees by the Kemmy Business School WorkFutures Lab said they agreed or strongly agreed that ‘my future career lies outside of this organisation’.

What started the ‘Great Resignation’?

Naturally, the ‘Great Resignation’ was triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic that presented extremely unprecedented challenges to the global workforce. However, there was undoubtedly a backlog of resignations from pre-pandemic in 2020, involving employees that had planned to resign but stayed put due to the uncertainty of the pandemic and the job market. A major reason behind the ‘Great Resignation’ appears to be associated with a growing dissatisfaction with work practices and ways of working, resulting in an unprecedented critique of the world of work since the onset of the pandemic.

Why are so many people looking to leave their jobs?

It is generally assumed that more people are leaving their jobs because they are from a generation that expects more from their employer and they find it easier than previous generations to switch jobs. Millennials are now between the age of 25 and 40 which would make up almost half of the workforce. Millennials, at this stage of their lives, expect more from companies. They expect more in terms of a work/life balance.  Most research indicated that the reasons employees are leaving their roles are not salary-based. While earning a living from work is essential, a sense of purpose is becoming increasingly important for people in terms of the kind of work that they do.

What can Employers do?

Whilst many employees may already be fixed on resigning, there are adjustments that employers could implement to evolve in the post-pandemic era. To retain and attract their employees, employers should strive to encourage employee success and fulfilment, adopt a hybrid working model that accommodates flexibility, prioritise employee mental and physical well-being and introduce family-friendly working practices that give their employees a better work/life balance.