A Great Resignation?
You’ve seen the headlines about the Great Resignation. The Great Reassessment. The Great Reshuffle. And lots of other “Great” names.
It began back in March with a study by Microsoft claiming that 41% of workers worldwide were looking to resign. And that was only the first of many articles. Even last week, a UK study claimed the number was more than 70%.
But I just didn’t see it in my network. Yes, people were changing jobs, but not in record numbers. And they were certainly not leaving the workforce to become independents. But my network is anecdotal, and it might not represent the real world.
So when a journalist asked about the Great Resignation on LinkedIn I thought it was a good time to look at the data. Turns out, the Great Resignation doesn’t exist
! It’s a myth.
Permanent over independence
People are not leaving the workplace in larger numbers than before the pandemic. I looked at the statistics of over 30 countries and found no data to support this.
Even when you look at the United States, where the number of people resigning is larger than in prior years, it’s not more than in other countries. So I wonder if it’s more about who is doing the quitting?
You could argue that people postponed their plans and stayed in their jobs longer due to new COVID-19 waves. Eventually they will leave.
And you might be right. However, there are several countries that returned to growth and have more workers (in absolute and relative numbers) today than before the pandemic, like Canada, France, Spain and the Netherlands.
Even there, people are not leaving the workplace. In fact, it’s the opposite: more people are moving from flexible to permanent contracts than the other way around.
The Great Return
Instead of a Great Resignation, there is a Great Return. It seems that companies, especially when they offer flexibility and remote working, are more attractive than ever.
Does that mean that employers can rest easy, knowing that workers will be back? Not all.
Several regions are in the midst of a demographic shift, with Baby Boomers leaving the workplace. Simply said, there will be fewer people in the workforce.
Secondly, the skill sets to thrive in the Age of Intelligence are completely different. If you don’t upskill people, you won’t have enough qualified workers.
Isn’t it fascinating how surveys grabbed headlines based on asking people what they intend to do? Turns out, what people actually do is quite different.
I do think one good thing came out of this: companies pay more attention to employee circumstances, offering mental health and engagement programs, and even better benefits and work conditions. And that’s a win.
I’m sure books will be written about these years, and when we look back, we discover what really happened.
In the meantime, let’s trust the data. What does your workforce data tell you?
And keep in mind that a company is not the labor market and so it might look very different at micro-level.
Have a great day, Anita