man packing box and leaving office; resignation; quitting job

Are you ready for the Great Resignation?

Published on 7th October 2021

​It’s a term that we are hearing more and more in the media, but what do we mean by the Great Resignation, and more importantly, what does it mean for your business?

What is the Great Resignation?

We first started hearing this term out of the US on account of the massive increase in the number of resignations in the face of the pandemic. This has been due to a number of reasons including the rise of hybrid/remote working, people rethinking their careers and what is most important to them, and people wanting to take a break from their career and focus on other aspects of their lives.

With Australia’s international borders looking to open soon and restrictions easing across the country, we are now bracing for the Great Resignation to hit our shores.

Australia has been in a unique situation where the closed borders have meant that there has been limited ‘fresh’ talent coming into the country over the past 18 months – 2 years. In some industries we also have a large number of expats that make up the current workforce who, whilst borders have been closed and restrictions have been in place, have been accruing leave during the pandemic.

What we are seeing in the market right now.

Yseult d’Estelle Roe, Director of AccountAbility and Ambition Finance in Sydney says, “Portfolio careers are becoming more desirable and people are taking a leap to something they may not have had the courage to do prior to the pandemic; something creative or starting up their own business.”

Kylie Blackwell, Director of Ambition Melbourne adds, “There have been a few industries who boomed through the pandemic and may have overworked their staff. We are hearing from a lot of candidates that they are feeling burnt out and in real need of a break.”

Kylie also says, “A lot of our clients are quite open to securing candidates from any location in Australia and even New Zealand due to the shortage of skills. We have seen this with both permanent and contract roles in Melbourne which has been in one of the harshest lockdowns in the world.”

“Clients seem to be a lot more comfortable with their staff requesting to work from different locations, I haven’t heard of this happening internationally as of yet, but locally it is becoming more and more common.”

What else is to come and when?

Whilst we can’t predict what happens next, we can take some lessons from the US and try to prepare ourselves so that business continues to run as usual.

Kylie says, “Employees are realising there is more to life than working and having had a balance for so long now, will be reluctant to return to offices or live to work.”

We recently asked our LinkedIn network – what do you plan to do once our borders are open? The results were:

- 23% stated they plan to take an extended break from work

- 18% stated they plan to work remotely, abroad

- 18% stated they plan to work remotely, elsewhere in Australia

- 40% stated they plan to wait a few months before making any decision and then review their options

Interestingly, almost a quarter of our poll said that they plan to take an extended break from work and 40% stated they plan to wait a few months before making any decisions.

Whilst that may not be unexpected, almost 1 in 5 people stated they plan to work remotely, abroad.

Will this mean a mass exodus later down the line?

Will organisations be able to cover this leave internally or will they need to consider filling in the gaps with contractors?

Kylie also says, “Australia hopes to see a return of talent from overseas however I would imagine due to our recent outbreaks and continuous lockdowns, they will be waiting to see what happens next before making any sudden moves.”

How will this change affect the future of work?

There is no doubt the pandemic has had a massive effect on the future of work already. The rise of hybrid and remote working has shown even the most sceptic of us that we need to look at “work” in a different way. There is a real opportunity to redefine roles and to hire employees that truly love their work, therefore gaining a much more engaged workforce that benefits the employee as much as the employer.

At Ambition, we have embraced the opportunity to look at the ways in which we work. We have managed to retain valuable employees by allowing them to move to various locations around Australia and internationally, whilst continuing in their role.

“Businesses will need to be open to having employees work remotely particularly in positions where the roles can be completed to the same level no matter the time difference or location.” says Kylie.

“Using Ambition as an example, the ability for our own employees to be able to work remotely is a big plus. Although I do understand some roles would be challenging to do from countries where there is a huge time difference.”

How can businesses prepare themselves?

Now is a great time to start thinking about your current leave policies, benefits and employee value propositions. Clear communication on both sides is crucial – why not take a temperature gauge of how your employees are feeling and what they plan to do when freedoms return so you can start to put plans in place.

“Looking at your benefits, extended leave (or unlimited leave) so employees can travel and get a better work/life balance once the borders open, will help to retain valuable employees.” Says Kylie.

Yseult adds, “Be open to hiring people overseas now via Zoom before they get to Australia. Get ahead of that curve and be the first to secure the top talent. We can partner with our London and Asia offices to reach a global market.”

Whether you are redefining traditional roles or looking for external help to fill the gaps, ensuring you have a recruitment partner that you trust and can rely on will also be a crucial part of the plan. Providing contractors for the short-term and longer periods is just one of the ways we can help. We can also act as a sounding board for negotiations, assist in redefining job descriptions and offer current and up to date advice on the market.

If you would like to discuss this topic or would like to speak with the team, you can reach us here.