The Great Resignation: What's really happening in the UK?

The ‘Great Resignation’ is the name given to the trend of people choosing to quit or change their jobs, or considering doing so in the near future, largely attributed to the work and life changes caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), the association for human resources professionals, found that between April and June 2021, 3.2 percent of the UK working population made a job to job move. Microsoft’s 2022 Work Trend Index found that 43 percent of employed people surveyed said they were somewhat likely or extremely likely to consider changing jobs within the next year. 

Moreover, in PageGroup’s survey of 2000 UK workers found that over half of respondents aged 18-34 said they were currently looking for new roles. 

Why is the great resignation happening?

The pandemic had an enormous negative impact on the job market in most countries and industries, resulting in instability for many companies and organisations, as well as the self-employed. However, it also created opportunity for people to take stock of their careers.

Many were buoyed by large furlough payments or self-employment and business grants, softening the blows of work downturns and affording them time to consider their next career steps. With lockdowns forcing a rise in remote and flexible working, many chose to leave roles that were normally office-based.

In 2023, with many countries having largely emerged from the pandemic, this global workforce trend seems to still be in full swing.

How is the great resignation impacting employers?

With so many employees considering leaving their roles, it’s vital in 2023 for employers to make extra efforts to retain their top-performing staff. This is especially important at a time when so many industries are candidate-short and suffering from skills shortages. Here are a few ways that high resignation rates are affecting employers in the UK:

1.    The rise of remote work 

Many employers have essentially been forced to offer remote working schedules, since so many candidates will not consider new jobs that require a large amount of time spent in the office.

2.    More benefits

Beyond remote work and flexible work hours, they are also having to go the extra mile by offering strong benefits, which are becoming as important as salary for candidates and employees. Extra holidays and days off are increasingly in-demand for candidates and employees, as are such as high-quality health insurance. These perks are being offered more often by companies trying to tackle the great resignation.

3.    Work culture to stem quit rate

When considering ways to mitigate the impact of the great resignation on workforce retention, many companies are looking for ways to improve their work cultures and working conditions. In 2023, employees and candidates demand a positive workplace culture that promotes healthy work/life balance and doesn’t push staff to burnout: another factor that helped cause the great resignation to take place.

4.    Actively planning positive impact

Similarly, companies are looking to place more focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives, which are also being demanded by many employees and candidates, as well as shareholders and customers. This is often the case even for jobs in many sectors and industries not directly related to ESG.

How should you approach hiring amid the great resignation?

Of course, with so many candidates open to leaving, there is a real opportunity for employers looking to increase their headcount to attract high calibre professionals. Here are a few ways to make sure you succeed in the current hiring market:

1.    Higher pay

When hiring in the UK during the great resignation, companies should first and foremost offer the most competitive job salary they are able to - this will ensure they are keeping pace with rivals in potentially candidate-led job markets. Michael Page’s salary centre has information about salary benchmarks for a wide variety of positions and industries.

2.    Trends highlight: Remote working is a must

During hiring processes, companies should also acknowledge that for many roles and candidates, remote working is non-negotiable. Failing to offer remote or hybrid working could limit your access to the talent pool, stopping you from making the most of the candidates available during the great resignation.

3.    ESG: Three major reasons

Employers can also ensure that work culture and ESG factors are given as much prominence during the hiring and negotiation processes as traditionally desirable work aspects, like high salaries and generous holiday allowance.

During the great resignation, many workers have taken stock of their life and work values, and whether they are feeling undervalued. A company being able to demonstrate strong ESG values – showing that it genuinely gives back to society and encourages employees to do the same – can be a clincher.

This can also help retain staff who want to be part of a strong ESG framework and may consider changing jobs to join one. If they feel that their work is meaningful and allows them to have further meaningful influence through ESG, they are more likely to be attracted to the company or to resist pull of the great resignation. For more insights into the importance of ESG to hiring, check out our ESG focused on-demand webinars

Embracing the great resignation

In 2022, the great resignation has raised many challenges for employers looking to retain talent and stop star employees switching jobs in many industries. The companies that have been most effective at retaining their top staff and slowing resignation rates amid these challenges have been those willing to accept the employee and candidate demands of this new work era.

Paying healthy salaries across all industries, creating a positive working environment where people are valued, implementing strong ESG initiatives, and offering flexible working when possible, can all be hugely positive things that can help companies, as well as employees, improve. 

At PageGroup, our consultants work closely with top employers to connect them with top talent. In a market like this one, with the great resignation impacting retention rates, it’s critical to be able to attract, retain, and develop top candidates. To arrange an introductory conversation, get in touch.

Are you looking to hire?

Find the right candidate today.

Submit a job spec

Webinars & events

Access our free webinars and events.

Join or watch on-demand

Get in touch