Is the Great Resignation over?

In 2021, American academic Anthony Klotz, during a Bloomberg interview, declared that ‘the Great Resignation is imminent.’ This term was referred to the phenomenon that occurred in the United States post-pandemic when a significant number of employees across various industries voluntarily left their jobs. While the term was initially coined in the U.S., similar trends have been observed worldwide, including in Europe.

However, in recent months, this trend has started to slow down. Does that mean this behavior is over? That is the question we aim to address in this article.

Great Resignation: US numbers 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 47 million Americans voluntarily quit their jobs in 2021. But this phenomenon didn’t stop there. In 2022, around 40 million Americans quit too.

The Great Resignation has affected various industries. Regarding differences in resignations by industry, the top three affected sectors are leisure and hospitality, transportation, warehousing and utilities, and professional and business services

 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, 2022

However, it seems as if this phenomenon has come to an end this year in the US. 2023 numbers from the BLS’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey suggest that quits have slowed, returning pre-pandemic figures. 

This doesn’t mean that individuals are clinging to their jobs indefinitely; it’s more akin to a period of stability following significant layoffs and within the context of economic recession concerns. Given that, even in this environment, job growth remains exceptionally strong, unemployment remains historically low, and wages are increasing at a faster rate than in previous decades, it’s understandable that talent is shifting between organizations in pursuit of improved working conditions

Great Resignation: Europe

Immediately after the pandemic, there wasn’t a significant change in Europe. However, this trend began to change. One number that demonstrates this is the increase in job offers: 2.7% of jobs in the EU and 3% of jobs in the eurozone were vacant in the first quarter of 2023 (Eurostast, 2023)

Eurostast, 2023

According to the Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), people changed their jobs in The Netherlands significantly in the past time. In the first quarter of 2022, a total of 1.9 million people indicated they had started a new job that year.  That’s 400.000 more than in the first quarter of 2021. 

In the second quarter of 2023, approximately 335.000 resignations took place in the United Kingdom, and even more in the second quarter of 2022: 442.000 people left their jobs. According to Statista, that is historically the highest number of resignations taking place in over a decade.

We can find this trend in Germany too. According to Gallup’s annual German workplace study, a record number of employees are looking for a new job, and 4 in 10 say they would stop working entirely if they could afford it, which is 25% more than in 2016.

Regarding the roles that are most following this trend, Indeed data reveals that some roles, such as driving, software development, marketing, and accounting, are experiencing high levels of loyalty. However, there are other roles (such as retail, hospitality, manufacturing, sales, and customer service) where workers are not as eager to stay in their positions and have high attrition rates.

The Great Resignation and the C-Suite

According to the PwC’s 26th Annual Global CEO Survey “Winning today’s race while running tomorrow’s”, a significant portion of CEOs believe that high attrition rates will persist, and more chief executives are saying they will increase than predicting they will decline. Only the CEOs in the United States were an exception; more than half of American CEOs expect lower attrition in the next 12 months.

PWC’s 26th Annual Global CEO Survey “Winning today’s race while running tomorrow’, 2023

In this sense, executives worldwide should have started implementing strategies for employee retention.  According to the PwC study: “Global Workforce Hopes & Fears Survey 2023”, some levers to pull are: flexibility, fair pay, fulfilling work and the opportunity to be one’s authentic best self at work are critical determinants of employee decisions about whether to stay or go. 

This takes on extra relevance when we consider the “quiet quitting” phenomenon. According to a new Gallup poll released in June, 59% of workers are “quiet quitting,” meaning that they are not engaged with their job; and 18% are “loud quitting,” or actively disengaged (but still employed).

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