• Edwin and George

The Great Resignation – your people will leave

EGM On A Mission: Let’s Build Better Companies


‘YOUR PEOPLE WILL LEAVE


It’s going to happen.


They’ll, at the very least, be receiving offers for other opportunities.

While finding the right people for your company has become increasingly tough.

Keeping staff has never been harder.’ (Mark Johnson, LinkedIn).


Borders open.


A new arrival in Australia – The Great Resignation (Oz style).


Job openings…..Up


The number of candidates….down. (1)


With millions predicted to flee their workplaces as part of The Great Resignation, Aussies are ditching even six-figure salaries for new adventures.’ (2)

  • The Great Resignation is predicted to accelerate this month in Australia - and a quarter are currently considering leaving their workplace, according to recent research from National Australia Bank. (3)

  • Another survey found 43 per cent of Aussie workers are planning to search for a new job in 2022 -a third will leave their roles as soon as they secure a new position - nearly a fifth will resign without another job lined up, according to Elmo Software. (4)

We call it a “perfect storm” - cheap money, low immigration, ageing population … the list goes on.


It’s not the resignation rates we should be worried about - instead, it’s the ‘contemplation’ rates of quitting that spells danger.’ (5)

Looks like we’re following America.

  • A record 4.5 million American workers quit their jobs in the month of November alone - according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over 30 million quit their jobs in 2021. (6)

  • Labor shortages remain a major obstacle to fill the 10.9 million jobs that were open at the end of 2021 - a historically high gap that had left about 1.7 vacancies per available worker. (7)


In January 2022, MIT Sloan published extensive research on why the Great Resignation is happening and the reasons behind it:


‘As the Great Resignation rolls on, business leaders are struggling to make sense of the factors driving the mass exodus. More importantly, they are looking for ways to hold on to valued employees.


The Great Resignation is affecting blue-collar and white-collar sectors with equal force.


Some of the hardest hit industries — hospitality, fast food, and specialty retail — employ the highest percentage of blue-collar workers.


Management consulting, in contrast, had the second-highest attrition rate but also employs the largest percentage of white-collar professionals.


Enterprise software, which also suffered high churn, employs the highest percentage of engineering and technical employees.’ (8)


Analyzing thousands of social media posts – Glassdoor, for example – MIT found that pay wasn’t a top reasons for the high ‘quit rate.


‘Much of the media discussion about the Great Resignation has focused on employee dissatisfaction with wages. How frequently and positively employees mentioned compensation, however, ranks 16th among all topics in terms of predicting employee turnover.’


The top three reasons why workers are quitting are:

  1. Toxic work culture – people are 10 times more likely to quit a company because of a toxic culture than low pay. A failure to promote diversity and inclusion, poor leadership practices, lack of work flexibility, workers feeling disrespected, unethical behavior, the way workers are treated.

  2. Job insecurity – whether people feel their job is secure isa strong predictor of what they think of their company culture – so no surprise that this reason comes so high. Also, when companies are struggling and lose people, they’re more likely not to be replaced – adding more pressure on those that remain.

  3. High levels of innovation – an odd one on the face of it. However, companies that have a high level of innovation demand more from their people – longer hours, more stress, balancing multiple tasks. People who say their company as strong at innovation, are less likely to rate work-life balance as high – they find it difficult to cope with the intensity of change.

(The point about high levels of innovation and change is highlighted in Dan Lyons excellent book ‘Lab Rats.’ Lyons writes:


‘Consider how companies are rushing around. Introducing new ways of working, changing where and how we work. Forcing people to embrace new routines – working longer, but less predictable, hours. Think about how often you hear the mantra – CHANGE IS THE ONLY CONSTANT.’


But work is changing.


Not driven by some never ending company programme plan – but by reasons outside the control of the most conscientious project manager.


The pandemic, hybrid working, technological developments, globalization, mobilization, generational differences……Work is changing.

People aren’t going to work for long in a company if your employee engagement levels are low.


The old HR practices blown away.


New words/ phrases: flexibility, community, teamwork, empathy, diversity, inclusion development (learning skills that will be useful in the future, not those that were useful in the past), work that is fun and interesting, playing to strengths.

Work is changing – but sadly a lot of companies don’t get it.


They’ll be the ones who will lose in the Great Resignation.




  1. See, for example Seek Employment Index

  2. The Great Resignation: Why Aussies are leaving their six-figure jobs, News.com.au, 4 March 2022

  3. 1 in 5 Australians quit their job last year, according to new NAB data – and another 25% are keen to follow suit, Business Insider, 18 February 2022

  4. See, Australians forced back to embrace the Great Resignation, 9News.com, 8 February 2022

  5. Mark Johnson, LinkedIn

  6. February’s jobs report, Bureau of labour statistics, January 2022

  7. February’s jobs report, CNBC, 4th March 2022

  8. Toxic culture is diving the great resignation, MIT Sloan, 22 January 2022


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