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Is the Great Resignation over? Far from it, experts say

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The Great Resignation — which saw droves of workers leaving their jobs or switching careers during the post-pandemic era — is far from over, and job loyalty may be a "thing of the past," as one industry expert puts it.

According to a recent survey by Microsoft, 52% of young people polled, namely Gen Z and Millennials workers, said they were likely to consider changing employers this year. That's up 3% from last year.

Microsoft refers to Gen Z as those who are from 18 years to 26 years old, and Millennials as those between the ages of 27 to 41

In contrast, only 35% of Gen X (42 to 55 years old) and Boomers (56 to 75 years old) say they are thinking of a job change.

The global survey, conducted among 31,102 full-time employed or self-employed workers, was not the only indicator that the Great Resignation is here to stay.  

According to another poll by recruiter Randstad UK, almost 7 in every 10 British employees say they feel confident of moving to a new job in the next couple of months and only 16% of workers describe themselves as worried about trying to get a new job.

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"The Great Resignation is here and job loyalty is a thing of the past," said Victoria Short, CEO at Randstad UK.

"The pandemic has changed how some people think about life, work, and what they want out of both." 

Companies 'still not getting it right'

While the pandemic was the impetus for the Great Resignation, the phenomenon will continue to take "different shapes and forms" in time to come, said Gia Ganesh, the vice president of People and Culture at Florence Healthcare.

Also referred to as the Great Reshuffle, LinkedIn says it's a "watershed moment" for company culture. Employees are ready to walk away from jobs that do not meet their needs, the professional networking company said in the 2022 Global Talent Trends report.

As a society, if we begin to shape our practices around how we treat people, how our work environments are structured, the Great Reshuffle will end.
Gia Ganesh
Vice President of People and Culture, Florence Healthcare

According to Microsoft's survey, the top five aspects of work that employees view as "very important" are positive culture, mental health or wellbeing benefits, a sense of purpose or meaning, flexible work hours and more than two weeks of paid vacation a year.

"This phenomenon will continue for a while because employees still want to be paid fairly. They still want to have the right work environment and get the right job opportunities," Ganesh explained.

"As a society, if we begin to shape our practices around how we treat people, how our work environments are structured, the Great Reshuffle will end," she said.

However, that's easier said than done as some companies "are still not getting it right," said Amy Zimmerman, the chief people officer of Relay Payments.

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The two things that companies are still falling short of: flexible work arrangements and staying in touch with employees' individual needs, she said.

"Everybody has their own bucket list of things that they expect at a company they're working for and when companies contradict commitments they've made, there's too many opportunities out there for people not to look elsewhere and find a company that can meet their needs."

Indeed, while nearly 4.3 million people in the U.S. quit their jobs in January, there were also 11.3 million job openings, according to the latest report from the U.S. Department of Labor.

What employees want

Microsoft's survey showed the lack of promotions or raises landed in number seven in the list of reasons why employees quit in 2021.  

"The power dynamic is shifting, and perks like free food and a corner office are no longer what people value most," it added.

1. Flexibility

According to the survey, what employees really want is flexibility. The survey showed that 52% of workers are thinking of switching to a full-time remote or hybrid job in 2022.

Flexible work in particular, appears to be a huge lure for young workers. The survey found that the likelihood of Gen Z workers engaging with a company posting on LinkedIn is high at 77% when it mentions "flexibility." That compares with 30% for Millennials.

2. Side hustles

The appeal of flexible work arrangements lies in the side hustles and creative projects employees can pursue beyond their "day job," Microsoft said.

Invest in your people, make sure that you're giving them work that resonates with them, that challenges them and stretches them.
Amy Zimmerman
chief people officer, Relay Payments

It reports that 70% of Gen Z are considering earning additional income outside their current employer via a side project or business in the year ahead.

3. Diversity

Gen Z employees also value purpose driven work environments, diversity and inclusion much more than their older counterparts, said Ganesh.

"Diversity and inclusion have become buzzwords, but to them, it truly means a lot. Gen Z'ers value being able to be their authentic selves and bringing their whole selves to work. The company has to provide a culture where it's safe to be who you are," she added.

What employers can do

The Great Resignation has posed opportunities for workers to negotiate for higher wages and Randstad said employers should start by "re-examining their remuneration levels."

However, quick fixes like a bigger pay check may not be as effective as companies would like.

With the labor market heating up and the Great Resignation still in full swing, here are some ways employers can try to retain their staff.

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Companies can consider a "counterintuitive approach" to retaining and attracting workers, by making customer happiness their top priority, wrote Bain & Co's Darci Darnell and Maureen Burns in the book "Winning on Purpose."

"Good employees don't want just a job, they want to embrace a meaningful purpose — and in our experience, they want the ability to enrich the lives they touch," the authors said.

With a myriad of factors at play in retaining talent, perhaps the simplest way is for companies to ask employees what they value, said Ganesh from Florence Healthcare.

"It is very important to understand from employees, what is keeping you here today? What can another company offer you that will make you think about leaving us?"

Zimmerman concurred, saying that companies should conduct "stay interviews" every 4 to 6 months to make sure they stay on top of their employees' needs as they evolve.

"Invest in your people, make sure that you're giving them work that resonates with them, that challenges them and stretches them. When people start to stagnate, they start to get bored, and they start looking elsewhere."

Don't miss: How to leverage the Great Resignation if you actually like your job and want to stay

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