The Great Resignation - what is it and how do I prepare my organisation?

The last two years, without a doubt, have been unprecedented, especially in regard to the nature of work. With lockdowns and employees working from home, ABS data has shown that there has been the lowest employee turnover recorded since such data was collected in 1972. However, with lockdowns ending and workers reevaluating what they want from work, we are on the cusp of what is deemed to be the ‘Great Resignation’.


What is the ‘Great Resignation’

The ‘Great Resignation’ is a relatively new word to the lexicon coined by Anthony Klotz. Klotz predicted that from early 2021, there would be record numbers of resignations and organisational turnover across the United States. Klotz was correct in his thinking, with the US Bureau of Statistics, reporting abnormally high resignations during this period, peaking in April 2021.


Whilst it may be easy to think that the ‘Great Resignation’ is only occurring in the US, recent data notes that a record number of people are resigning from their current roles, with Microsoft recently releasing a report, noting that over 40% of workers globally plan on quitting their current job within the next 12 months. Compounding this are results from Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) noting that approximately 38% of employees surveyed in Australia are thinking of quitting their current job within the next year.


What is causing the ‘Great Resignation’?

Whilst it may be easy to assume that COVID-19 is the sole factor triggering this movement, there is a myriad of factors at play. It seems to be that rather than a factor, COVID-19 is a catalyst for one of the biggest shake-ups to HR in modern times. Some commentators have suggested that COVID-19 and its subsequent lockdowns have caused employees to reevaluate what they are looking to get out of work, not limited to:

  • Ensuring that the company values align with their personal values;

  • seeking a career change;

  • seeking higher satisfaction and engagement with their work

Other commentators have suggested that it is the result of the rise of the hybrid working model in which employers who fail to accommodate for flexible work see employees walk out the door.


Regardless of the reasoning for the ‘Great Resignation’, it is safe to say that it is set to create a realignment of the workforce where employees have more bargaining power as opposed to the traditional model in which employers hold more power.


How to prepare for the ‘Great Resignation’

As an employer, it has never been a more crucial time to review your employee value proposition, also known as an EVP. For the uninitiated, an EVP is an overarching term as to why an employee ought to work for your organisation over another. This includes but is not limited to:

  • The financial and non-financial incentives the organisation offers to employees

  • How employees are treated at the organisation

  • What the organisation does to recruit and maintain employees

There are numerous recommendations as to what the EVP ought to entail. According to the PwC survey, whilst workers of different generations and gender value different things, the things they have in common is they want to:

  • Work with good people

  • Have a work-life blend

  • Be paid well for their work

Alongside these notions of what a worker wants in their EVP, other surveys have noted that employees are:

  • increasingly valuing organisations that are committed to diversity, equity and inclusion;

  • wanting to be involved with organisations that promote wellbeing in treating them as a human and not just a worker, and;

  • workplace flexibility, including adopting a hybrid model where work is split between at home and at the office based on what employees want as opposed to employers and managers.

When reviewing your organisation’s EVP, it is important that it is not lead by management. Rather it ought to be a codesign process where the organisation listens and takes into consideration what the employee wants and values. Such an approach to establishing an EVP must not be a one-off but a continuous process to ensure that employees stay engaged with your organisation.


Karen Ansen Consulting can help you retain and attract employees by help you design, create and implement your Employer Value Proposition (EVP). Reach out at enquiries@karenansen.com to start the journey.