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The Great Resignation: reality or media clickbait?

“The Great Resignation” was coined by Anthony Klotz, a professor of management at Mays Business School of Texas A&M University in response to the huge number of US workers quitting their jobs this year.

Analysts have sounded the alarm that the Great Resignation phenomenon should pose a “massive scare” for Australian employers, with workers here predicted to follow suit from early 2022.

There are a range of reasons behind the mass movement and exodus in the US. For some, working from home has given them an insight into the benefits of flexibility and freedom. They’re re-assessing the priority of work in their lives. Others have found the work from home experience exhausting, as have those serving at the frontline of COVID in the healthcare sector. They’ve had enough. Then there are those sick of being underpaid and overworked who are now chasing a better deal.

While there could be little argument that many people quit jobs after experiencing what Fortune Magazine dubs “turnover shock”: a life event that precipitates self-reflection about one’s job satisfaction (and a global catastrophe such as COVID-19 definitely fits that definition), RBA Assistant Governor (Economic) Luci Ellis cited Australians’ experience during the pandemic as being “very different” to that of Americans.

Dr Ellis told the Committee for Economic Development of Australia a “greatly reduced” rate of people left their jobs voluntarily last year to switch to another, because people generally held on during uncertain times.

As a result, she expected “a little bit of catch up” through the second half of this year and into next year as those people who held on finally left.

“I don’t think we’re in the same situation as the United States,” Dr Ellis said. “To be honest, this is really mostly a United States story where a lot of what is going on is that frontline workers, people who are relatively lowly paid, have experienced being locked down.

“They didn’t even get furloughed, but they didn’t have JobKeeper – they were put on unemployment benefits.

A second reason we may see turnover early in 2022 is simply a regular pattern. Many of us reflect on our careers at the end of a year; what we’ve accomplished thus far and what we still want to do. For many people, a new year is the traditional time for setting goals and for those who can, changing jobs may be at the top of their list.

Smart employers understand this and put in place strategies so their best people aren’t tempted to look outside the organisation for a brighter career path and fresh challenge. First step? Identify your top performers…those you really don’t wish to lose. Second step? Give Bare Bones Consulting a call. We can help with a simple plan to identify what will keep these people in your business and for them to operate at a high level for longer. Which means the only ones joining the “Great Resignation” will be those you are happy to see leave.

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