Millions of workers, globally, have actively been planning to change employers in the next couple of months as part of the a “great resignation”. And the COVID-19 pandemic has played a significant role making workers realize the importance of mental health and family-work balance.
Media reports highlight that a record 4.4 million people quit their jobs in September this year, and a survey from Joblist says that nearly 75% of workers are considering quitting. Resignations peaked in April 2021 and have remained abnormally high. There was a record-breaking 10.9 million open jobs at July-end. Moreover, a survey of 6,000 workers conducted by Randstad UK found that 69% of them were feeling confident about moving to a new position in the next few months. 24% are planning a change within three to six months.
Experts agree that one key driver is a pervasive sense of burnout, wherein employees feel overworked, overwhelmed and overlooked. Leah Weiss, a researcher, at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, says burnout is a state distinct from mental health conditions like depression or anxiety. “Burnout can result directly from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed, leading to feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings of negativism or cynicisim related to the job.” Weiss believes workers can take actions to fight the scourge of burnout; and it does not include yoga, TED talks or meditation.
The Randstad UK research said workers currently employed in construction, tech and logistics were confident about finding new opportunities, with manufacturing workers being the most confident. Randstad warned that mass resignations will come at considerable cost to the UK’s private sector. An Oxford Economics research found that it takes recently hired professional workers 28 weeks to reach optimum productivity, which has an attached cost of £25,200 per employee.
The recovery period, post advent of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, has witnessed workers in privileged positions who don’t live paycheck to paycheck are now finally moving on. Most in non-developed economies with the absence of social security and unemployment benefits cannot afford this luxury but may still be undergoing duress and pent-up frustration from the disruption caused by the pandemic.
This calls for understanding who people are leaving and what can be done to prevent it. It also highlights the need for a data-driven approach.