top of page

Can we stop the Great Resignation?

As we adjust to a post pandemic world we're facing new challenges.

2020 and 2021 changed everything. We probably all remember some of the small things at the start of the pandemic – the strange quietness and sense of fear, a sense of unity, clapping the NHS, endless quizzes on Zoom (with, on a personal note, my father-in-law contesting every. Single. Answer. Give me strength). Then it became something else. For some, a chance to reflect on their lives. For others, a psychological grind.

And as we head ‘back to normal’ (although it doesn’t feel very normal at the moment) the changes continues – especially in many workplaces. The rise of hybrid working, and the opportunity for reflection, has led many employees to reassess their careers and their priorities. The result? The Great Resignation.

Worker Power?

A recent survey by Ipsos suggests that 47% of British workers are thinking about quitting their job, or are actively searching or applying for another job. This statistic is higher among 16-to-34-year-olds, where 56% have considered quitting or have looked for a new job. According to the Office for National Statistics, the proportion of people moving from one job to another was at a record high of 3.2% in the last quarter of 2021.

In fact, here at BuddyBoost we’re actively hiring and it’s amazing to see how many people are jumping from job to job – but also wage expectations are rising fast! Employees seem to hold many of the aces just now. And also the King, Queen and Jack. Employers are basically left holding the two of clubs. So, what cards do employers have to play? Short of buying workers their own super yacht (or a full tank of petrol – have you seen those prices?!) companies need to find a way of making themselves attractive to workers without breaking the bank.

It’s about more than money

If companies want to mitigate against the effects of the Great Resignation, first they need to understand why it’s happening. What is it that workers are looking for?

According to the Gallup’s chief research scientist Jim Harter, it’s about much more than just money. “Pay is important, and it must be fair, but two-thirds of the reasons people actually left jobs in 2021 were due to issues related to their engagement and their overall well-being.”

Gallup’s research shows that 42% of the reasons people are quitting are tied to how they feel about their bosses and organisational cultures. And low engagement is specifically experienced when workers conclude they aren’t growing, appreciated, or treated with care and respect. Another 21% boils down to wellbeing, employees’ feelings about their work-life balance, work schedules, and their ability to work remotely some of the time.

Supporting the whole person

“The whole intersection of work and life is a major influence over why people are attracted to a new employer and choosing to leave another,” Harter says. “Something organisations need to become more mindful about is how work and personal life now blend, and the role employers must play in supporting the whole person, not just the worker.“

Slack’s Future Forum Pulse survey backs up the need for companies to take a more holistic approach. The report found that nearly 80% of knowledge workers want flexibility in where they work — citing benefits ranging from work-life balance to lower anxiety at work and a better sense of belonging.

Bryan Adams, CEO and founder of Ph.Creative, understands the importance of gratitude in the employee experience. “It’s not championing and celebrating success and achievement, though that’s important,” Adams says. “It’s acknowledging the difficulty of the climb or the stress of a particular situation of what people have to do to endure. The employee experience at the moment is probably the most powerful thing to create.”

One way to make employees feel valued, and to look after that all-important wellbeing, is by engaging the services of organisations like BuddyBoost. A proven employee wellbeing tool, BuddyBoost encourages participants to commit to doing at least 26 minutes of physical activity for 26 days in a month. The data from thousands of participants shows that on average people get a 25% mood boost from the programme and the sense of camaraderie among colleagues is always a standout feature.

No time for chit-chat

Another issue caused by the Great Resignation has been an increasing workload for existing employees. US news website Vox says: “As people have quit their jobs or stepped out of the workforce… those left behind have had to pick up the slack. Two-thirds of workers said their workload has increased “significantly” since they started working remotely.”

“Even before the Great Resignation, if someone were to leave in a department, oftentimes the key tasks would get shared among others in the department until they found a replacement,” SHRM knowledge adviser John Dooney says. “The challenge [now] is there’s a higher percentage of folks resigning, therefore there’s more work to be distributed, and it’s just taking longer to hire people.”

That shortfall, he argues, can be seen in our communication with wider networks of people at work. “There’s no time for chitchat, there’s not a time for that interaction that would occur naturally,” Dooney said.

This is another area where BuddyBoost can play a role – by encouraging that all-important social interaction between colleagues. The BuddyBoost programme gets participants to ‘buddy up’, forming into small sub-groups who encourage each other and celebrate their achievements. And everyone communicates on the app, sending in photos and tips, recording their activities, and even swapping tales of their own mental health. This sense of community will go some way to encouraging employee engagement. People are less likely to want to leave a company where they have built stronger community ties and friendships. And, with more employees having to cover a staffing shortfall, it’s never been so important to mitigate the experience of stress and look after employee mental health.

It doesn’t have to be this way

It’s an unavoidable fact, in the current environment, that some staff in every firm will be considering leaving. But, argues Chris French, executive vice president of customer strategy at Workhuman, their departure it doesn’t need to be a fait accompli (tres amusant). Organisations simply need to remind employees of the benefits of working there.

“When you start to think about leaving, your brain is looking for ways to rationalise that,” says French. “If you’re not counteracting that with positivity, these feelings can run amok, and everything they see will reinforce their desire to leave.”

“While salary and benefits will always be high priority, people also now place much more importance on other aspects of the employee proposition such as the long-term development opportunities, the workplace culture, an employer’s focus on wellbeing and inclusion and diversity, to name just a few,” says Justin Rix, partner and head of people advisory at Grant Thornton. “Many in the mid-market are already focusing on this which will put them in good stead for the future.”

“Leaders need a realisation that building a culture that improves lives will be required to attract and retain great people,” Harter says. “There’s a huge gap today between knowing this and getting it done.”


bottom of page