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What are we learning from the Great Quit?

Updated: Nov 22, 2021

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4 million Americans quit their jobs in July 2021 with another 4.3 million leaving their jobs voluntarily in August. That’s nearly 3 percent of the total workforce in each month. That’s huge. Consider that in the past 20 years (from December 2000 to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020) the US resignation rate has never surpassed 2.4 percent.

And it’s not just the US where people are saying “fuck this” and handing in their paperwork. In the UK, the number of open jobs surpassed 1 million for the first time ever in August and our German friends have taken things one step further – research by HR firm SD Worx confirms - with 6.0 percent of their workforce on the move.

And it’s only just beginning – According to Microsoft's 2021 Work Trend Index, more than 40 percent of the global workforce is considering quitting their job in 2021 and a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey confirms 65 percent of employees said they are looking for a new job – with 88 percent of executives are experiencing higher turnover than normal.

So what’s going on? And what can we learn?

According to an Adobe study, the Great Quit is being driven by – who else – the Millennials and Generation Z. Mainly because when these two cohorts get dissatisfied with their work, they’re more likely to do something about it. The study also confirms that more than half of Gen Z are planning to seek a new job within the next year.

The learning there? Look after your young talent. As the health-tech, fit-tech and well-tech industries continue to heat up, it will only get harder to attract brilliance, so if you already have it, nurture it. Keep in mind what motivates Gen Z and focus on it. Offer them feedback, provide opportunities for career growth and, perhaps most importantly, ensure you speak their language when it comes to diversity, inclusion and equality.

But it isn’t just the youngest segment of the workforce that is being decisive. According to a Harvard Business Review study, employees between 30 and 45 years old have had the greatest increase in resignation rates, with an average increase of more than 20 percent between 2020 and 2021.

Another thing which is clear is that the pandemic has gifted everyone a gap year. This has forced us into a prioritization accelerator to rethink work, life, goals and everything in between. The infamous work-life balance has been ripped out at the root and we all have the opportunity to replant anew.

Whether a Gen Z or a Boomer, home working has highlighted just how much of a waste of time commuting is, which for most means sitting in some form of public transport – planes, trains and automobiles. Deals were done just as successfully on zoom without clocking up time, hassle, and business expenses. As business does come back, reasons for travel and turning up in the office seem to be sparked more from social drivers like the desire to mingle, brainstorm together, and interact - rather than just business per se.

And then there’s the realization that, actually, working from home might be more efficient than in the office. According to a study of 30,000 workers, the work-from-home boom will lift productivity in the US economy by 5 percent. People have realized this and brands which are reluctant to accommodate home working are the ones likely to lose out – both in terms of talent and productivity.

But here’s the killer. The Harvard Business Review study also found that resignations have hit the tech industry hardest. While resignations decreased slightly in industries such as manufacturing and finance, they went up 4.5 percent in tech.

What could this mean?

Watching the sector closely and knowing how much pressure sits in the massive acceleration of digital development, we believe there are two reasons driving this.

  1. Our young workforce today is not hesitant to act on a better offer, a more values-aligned opportunity, or a career that meets their newly defined work-life requirement. With 4.5 per cent of the workforce in flux, it means that there is a lot of talent out there looking for their next career move. Your job is to establish a killer feature set that working at your place enables.

  2. Tech brands could do with some help when it comes to understanding what keeps their workforces happy and motivated. To find and keep top talent during the Great Quit, the relationships with staff must be more of a partnership. Future plans mapped out together, daily workload bolstered by two-way communication and support, and personal workstyle preferences baked in.

If you are in tech and ready to change gears, switch lanes or put your foot to the floor in the exploding health and wellness sector – get in touch:

Photo by Samson Katt from Pexels



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