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Withstanding the Great Resignation phenomenon

By Andrea Derler, Principal, Researcher and Customer Value at Visier

Globally, millions of people are quitting their jobs or are planning to. The events of the past 18 months have given employees all over the world the time to consider what it is that they are looking for from their employer – and what else is on offer – which is exactly what they are doing right now. In fact, according to a recent Visier study, there was an annualised resignation rate of 25% compared to 22% in the same period in 2019, and just 18% during peak COVID, January – August 2020. Consequently, right now, business leaders are worried about the gaps this will – and is – leaving in their workforce, and the recruitment challenges ahead of them. 

Even if business leaders haven’t yet experienced a high level of employee turnover in their own team, ‘the Great Resignation’ is very much a real thing. Despite pre-existing media coverage, this wave of resignation is not just having an impact on job roles that require little experience. Our data highlights that actually, resignation levels are much higher within job roles that require more experience, and particularly amongst women and those aged 40-45 years old. For business leaders concerned about this wave of pandemic resignations, here’s what they can start doing right now to ride this wave successfully and mitigate the impacts of the talent drain. 

Tech and healthcare sectors have been the hardest hit by The Great Resignation
Many employees quitting their jobs have likely been wanting to do so since 2020, but it was fear and uncertainty that prevented them from making that decision. In fact, one of the biggest potential explanations for the increase in resignations is that we’re seeing two year’s worth of job movers, condensed into one. For example, now, with the world slowly opening up again and job vacancies at a record high in the UK, the same people have the confidence to follow through on their intent, leading to record volumes of resignations.

Of course, for business leaders looking to retain their top talent, it’s important to understand that there are various reasons for employees wanting to quit their jobs. For example, a recent Visier customer used data to identify performance equity as a major factor in ongoing staff turnover issues. Once aware, it was able to take mitigating steps such as building a cross-function taskforce to tackle the issue from a wide range of different angles. 

Diversity in the workplace is threatened as more women are resigning than men
The pandemic has accelerated the rate in which women are leaving the workforce when compared to men.  In fact, with more women resigning at accelerated rates, business leaders are concerned about the impact that this is going to have on the progress they have made in workplace diversity and in implementing equal opportunities. 

People analytics is a very effective method to ensure that every gender, race and ethnic group is being given equal opportunities. Implementing a more data driven approach enables organisations to identify what each individual employee may need or want from the employer to stay with the company. This analysis should drill into different cohorts within representative groups to avoid blanket solutions being applied, many of which tend to be irrelevant – or even alienating – to those they’re supposed to help. From a HR perspective, it’s about building and sustaining policies that suit everyone in the workforce, not just particular subsets.

Employee turnover is disrupting every age group
Traditionally, younger age groups are the most likely to turnover as people jump around to advance their careers or boost their earnings. In 2021 this was no different with resignation rates amongst 20–25-year-olds just shy of 50%. But surprisingly, employees aged 30-35, 40-45, and 45-50 – typically much more stable brackets – have all increased their resignation rates by more than 38% as well, illustrating why this current wave has been so disruptive. Older employees tend to hold more senior management roles and their sudden departure can leave teams rudderless, quickly impacting productivity. 

Whilst businesses must remember that there are many reasons that people are seeking change, it is also important to recognise that these departures could have a lasting impact on the workforce moving forward. Employees are the beating heart of any organisation and as such, regardless of the country, sector or business size in which these resignations are taking place, the damage can be just as impactful.  Businesses looking to implement quick fix solutions that cater to the masses, as opposed to the individual, will continue to say goodbye to top talent. Instead, think about how data can help to understand the reasons employees are leaving your business and the programmes, processes, or policies each individual needs to stay. 

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