The “Great Resignation”: A term that evolved in late 2020 in response to the millions of US workers suffering pandemic-burnout, who began re-evaluating their work-life balance and quitting their jobs. As this phenomenon heads Downunder, with businesses emerging from economic hibernation already facing labour shortages across a range of industries, we take a closer look at how the pandemic has shifted priorities for workers, who now expect flexible working conditions, higher wages, and better work-life balance as the norm.
More Aussies job searching
The ELMO Employee Sentiment Index provides quarterly updates of sentiment among more than 1,000 Australian workers, measuring things like attitudes, actions and concerns in the workplace.
In a recent study, research findings highlighted that as many as 43 per cent of workers plan to search for a new job in 2022, while 31 per cent of those surveyed indicated they plan to quit their jobs as soon as they secure a new position.
Unsurprisingly, the data shows that being forced to be physically present in an office was a major contributor to those choosing to leave their jobs. ELMO chief executive and founder Danny Lessem said the pandemic has shifted priorities for workers who now expect flexibility as the norm.
A great reshuffle instead
In his speech to the Australian Industry Group, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said Australia’s labour market is experiencing a “great reshuffle” rather than a “great resignation” as experienced in the US.
"In the last three months, a record number of around 300,000 workers say they left a job because they were looking for better job opportunities,” Frydenberg said.
“Switching jobs allows workers to move up the job ladder for better pay. They also move to more productive firms, helping those firms grow.”
Acknowledging that Australian businesses will encounter ongoing problems with workforce shortages, Freydenburg said, “now is the time to start confidently moving back towards normalised economic settings.”
What workers want
Whether it’s a “great resignation” or a “great reshuffle” heading to Australia’s shores, retaining existing employees and attracting new talent is evidently imperative for businesses looking to thrive post-pandemic. And understanding what the most important considerations are for employees is an important first step.
Over half of the Australians surveyed in a Qualtrics survey said they would stay longer with their employer if remote working – and more flexibility to work around family and other commitments – became permanent.
Work-life balance, mental health and wellbeing
Employees are choosing to work with organisations that demonstrate commitment to work-life balance and mental health and wellbeing.
When it comes to negotiating salaries, employees are in a much stronger position to negotiate salaries, and businesses may be forced into paying above-market salaries to secure the best talent.
While only time will tell how much of Australia’s workforce will join the “great resignation”, it’s up to businesses to adapt to changing working conditions and deliver on deliver on employees’ requirements for greater flexibility and improved work-life balance.
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