Personal Finance

The Great Resignation

Britons are quitting their jobs in record numbers—but this is what experts say will make them stay.

WORKERS are quitting their jobs in the millions with the pandemic sparking what is now being termed The Great Resignation—but how do employers retain their staff?

With a huge proportion of Britons being forced to work from home—many permanently since March 2020—employees have started reassessing their work-life balance. And even those who are still working on site are trying to take back control in a truly turbulent time by quitting for something more fulfilling.

The Labour Force Survey in November 2021 showed 1.02 million moved jobs between July and September 2021, with 391,000 of these being resignations. This is the highest spike in the LFS's history.

Perhaps it is the need to stop the mundanity, or perhaps the switch in working practices has exposed what is frustrating with a certain role such as the commute or lack of progression. But workers appear to be leaving in their droves.

Even Prince Harry, who could be the most famous person to resign in recent years, paid heed to this trend, championing people for quitting jobs that "didn't bring them joy".

He said:

“While on the surface it looks like these last couple of years brought all these issues to the foreground, the reality is these struggles and issues have been brewing for quite some time. We’re just at the beginning of the mental health awakening.”

A lack of motivation, burnout and feeling overlooked are some of the top reasons people gave for quitting in a survey of 2,000 people by employee experience company Edenred.

Although its research found 65% of people did want to stay in their jobs, 46% of those asked said the pandemic had made them realise what they wanted in life.

Top 10 reasons people left their jobs:

  • 1. It wasn’t motivating
  • 2. I felt overworked
  • 3. The management didn’t care about my wellbeing
  • 4. I didn’t like the atmosphere
  • 5. The pay was less than I wanted
  • 6. I had a rude boss
  • 7. There was no room to progress
  • 8. It was boring
  • 9. It wasn’t the career I wanted
  • 10. I had been there too long

Almost half of bosses (45%) said more staff had been leaving their jobs voluntarily in 2020 compared to 2019 in a poll of 1,226 UK managers by the Chartered Management Institute for Bloomberg News.

Why does this matter? As well as the cost to hire and train a new employee, it's getting harder to fill positions, with more than half (55%) saying finding staff was more difficult now than before Covid began.

So how do employers keep their staff?

With the cost of living crisis beginning to bite in the UK, the top way (47%) to keep people in a role is a pay rise, according to Edenred.

But perhaps more importantly, support from employers to improve a staff member’s work-life balance was requested by 64% of workers in the research. And 38% would appreciate workplaces improving their financial wellbeing.

More work flexibility and attention and appreciation of a worker's mental health are also high on the list. The pandemic has had an impact on everyone's mental wellbeing and with many people working from home, or simply working in more isolated conditions, staff struggles are less easy to spot. This is what has led people to resent their job and even burn out.

A report by the 4 Day Week Campaign explained: "For workers who have made the transition to working remotely, the always-on culture of being available for meetings, calls and checking emails has suddenly entered their homes.

"The rapid speed of this change, alongside insufficient barriers put in place to separate work and home lives, has steadily extended the length of the working day.

“By April a third of all those who remained employed without being furloughed were working more hours than usual.

"As a result, the prevalence of mental distress among workers is now 49% higher compared to 2017-19, and has increased across all major sectors apart from in agriculture, forestry and mining."

Top priorities to retain staff:

  • 1. Pay rise
  • 2. More flexible hours
  • 3. The ability to work from home
  • 4. More perks
  • 5. Greater appreciation from employers
  • 6. Setting boundaries so workers don’t feel the need to always be ‘on’.
  • 7. Training
  • 8. Creating a culture of being part of a team

Alisdair Seenan, HR Director at Edenred, said:

“It’s clear from the study that the job landscape is changing rapidly and it’s likely this will continue in 2022.

“The top reasons are a clear indication to employers about what they may need to change or improve to keep vital staff from leaving, particularly as the results show many plan to leave their job in the next year.

“We believe employers who invest time and resources to help employees deal with the challenges they may face in 2022, such as rising living costs and the pandemic continuing to disrupt the working environment, will attract and retain the best people.”

Erin Yurday

Erin Yurday is the Founder and Editor of NimbleFins. Prior to NimbleFins, she worked as an investment professional and as the finance expert in Stanford University's Graduate School of Business case writing team. Read more on LinkedIn.


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