by | Mar 9, 2022 | Communication

Stick or twist – The great resignation is looming

The great resignation is looming; how do you decide whether to join in or not, and why employers have to act now to avoid it (but *spoiler alert* it may be too late…)

The last couple of years have had a huge impact on people (#understatement), and their work experiences have varied wildly:

In one corner, we have the person who stayed in their job, but then had to do everyone else’s job for the same salary and were expected to feel grateful. They feel that they weren’t looked after, so they feel a bit disgruntled and are now looking for another job…

In the other corner we have the person who was furloughed, but is now back at work. They feel that they were treated badly and not kept in the loop, so they too feel a bit disgruntled and they too are now looking for another job…

In the third and biggest corner (bear with me, I’m not familiar with the rules of boxing…) we have the person who was made redundant, and simply had to grab a job to pay the bills. They may be working for a company they hate, in a sector that they don’t enjoy and for a salary that is less than they were used to. They’ve been feeling disgruntled for a while, but have been biding their time until now. They too are looking for another job…

There is a fourth group that overlaps the other three segments. In this group we have the person who should have naturally moved on to the next step in their career last year, but couldn’t move through lack of opportunity, or the fear of giving up job security. They are not disgruntled, but they are getting itchy feet and they too are now looking for another job…

Employers and recruiters are expecting many people to move jobs this year, but it will come as a shock when they realise that even the people who were fully employed through all this, still want to move on. Employers feel that this is the group that was looked after; they carried on working and getting paid, so they are ok, right? But these are the people who had to fire fight, and who had to do four people’s jobs with no support and no extra money. This is the group that will bite employers in the bum when they resign this year.

It may also come as a shock that the group that were furloughed are also feeling disgruntled – after all, they were paid almost all their salary to just sit on their bottoms and be off work, so they must be happy, right?

It depends on how communication was handled and how they were treated. If an employer looked after their furloughed team, communicated and didn’t just cast them off, they are going to be in a much better place.

Everyone is feeling guilty about the position they ended up in last year; people feel guilty for being furloughed instead of working, or feel guilty because they are working whilst their colleagues were made redundant, or feel guilty when made redundant and not be able to provide for their family. People stayed put because of guilt, but now that guilt is turning to anger and they are starting to think of themselves and their own needs.

Relationships have been lost; the people they used to go to the pub with are gone, the boss they really liked is gone, that guy from accounts who they had a smoke with is gone; the whole dynamic of a company they once loved has changed. So how do we handle this?

My advice to employers: Do a temperature check.

Speak to your employees and have a few linear questions to ask them about the future, such as “how do we improve things?” and “how could we attract new talent into the business?” Do not ask them “are you happy here?” because no one is going to say “no.” You’ll be able to gauge their enthusiasm, dedication and engagement by their answers. If they shrug and say “I dunno,” then that speaks volumes. If they are gushing with ideas then listen to them. You can look back too and ask questions such as “what could we have done differently during the pandemic” but you have to be prepared to hear the answers and act on them. And more importantly, not just act on it, tell people you acted on it.

The way in which you communicated with your team during the pandemic will now be coming home to roost. If you were harsh and uncaring, lacking in care and communication, your actions will now find their consequences. It may be too late for some employers; for some, a mass exodus is inevitable. But if you do a temperature check you will at least have some prior warning of what’s to come. And forewarned is forearmed…

My advice to employees: Ask yourself “am I happy?”

Is this just a job or the next stage in your career? Ask yourself “Why do I stay here?” If you can’t answer that question with at least four or five different things then you may be in the wrong place. The grass may not always be greener, but if you’re incredibly unhappy where you are because of any of the reasons above, then the grass could very well be greener somewhere else.

As of this month, the UK is open, and that’s official.  We’ll have a period of pinching ourselves to check that normality really has returned and then it will start. It will start with a trickle and lead to a flood. By quarter three, the floodgates will open.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

Register to receive the Annual Salary Survey results and white paper

Register to receive the Annual Salary Survey results and white paper


Fill in your details below to receive the Annual Salary Survey results and white paper.

Results due November 2023

Thank you for registering, look out for the results soon!