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The Great Resignation – fact or fiction?

by | Jan 31, 2022 | Covid-19 employee HR, Employee Engagement, News

great resignation

We have been hearing a lot about this – the Great Resignation – from the USA where people are reported to be leaving their employers in droves and businesses are having to up the ante with their employment offerings.

This is perfectly understandable in the USA for a number of reasons.

Firstly, people did not get the sort of support that we got here in Australia with JobKeeper and other government grants and subsidies.

We also have a host of employment protections that Americans do not have because their workforce is much more casualised than ours and they also have lesser legislated employment conditions.

And they had much higher COVID infection rates (at the time of writing, the USA had 74 million infections (about 22% of the population) as compared to Australia’s 2.5 million cases (less than 10% of the population) .

Those factors mean that the experience of American workers through the pandemic has been very different to ours.

One thing that workers world wide will have been doing through the pandemic is having a good hard look at their working life from a couple of perspectives – what sort of employer they work for and what place work should take in their lives.

This is happening in Australia too and we are seeing people leaving employers for six main reasons:

  1. They want greater flexibility in the way they work.
  2. They have moved away from cities to get out of and minimise future potential for lockdowns.
  3. They have the opportunity to move to more secure work or a different industry where they see career opportunities.
  4. They have been working in industries like healthcare and aged care and childcare and education where people have been under pressure for a long time and burnout has become commonplace.
  5. They were unhappy with their treatment by their employer during the pandemic and have the opportunity to do better.
  6. They have opted to retire or just opt out of the workforce.

Of course, there are also the minority who have chosen not to get vaccinated.

The labour market is the tightest that it has been for decades – it is really hard to attract any applicants let alone good ones.

A primary reason for this is the border closures and the impact that has had with no international students, migrant workers or backpackers available especially for industries like hospitality and agriculture/horticulture which have been reliant ion these workers for years.

The border closures also impact seriously on occupations where we have skills shortages – like engineers, tradespeople and accountants to name a few. 

So it is what you might call “the perfect storm” that must be navigated to attract and retain talent.

So will this current labour crisis be further exacerbated by the predicted “Great Resignation” hitting our shores?

We think that the opposite is the case – that one of the reasons that we are struggling to find candidates for good jobs is that people are staying put.

Most employers and employees have tried to do the right thing by each other during the pandemic and lockdowns and work restrictions. There is a bit of loyalty that goes with that experience. Plus, given the still insecure environment that we are in as a nation, why would you leave the security of your current job where you know what it is like, you have established relationships, you know what the rules are and you have your leave entitlements etc as an insurance policy if things do go downhill with the pandemic?

So the better question is “how do you get that person you need to see better opportunity and security with you?”

The lesson we can take from the USA is that, albeit that our labour market situation has different causes, it is time to get proactive with your employee value proposition and your labour marketing strategy. 

If you would like to see how we can help you to do that, give us a call on 0438 533 311 or email


Ridgeline Human Resources Pty Ltd
ABN : 24 091 644 094

6 Ellesmere Ave, Croydon Victoria 3136

1300 108 488