The “Great Resignation” is here and job loyalty is a thing of the past as pandemic burnout begins to bite, finds Randstad UK

With demand and vacancies so high, and with people having been potentially stuck treading water in jobs they don’t want for 18 months, employees want to - and can afford to - move on.    That’s the conclusion of a survey of over 6,000 adults in the UK showing confidence to move jobs is soaring.

Almost 7 in every 10 employees (69%) say they feel confident to move to a new job in the next couple of months, according to a poll undertaken by recruiter Randstad UK.  Only 16% of workers describe themselves as worried about trying to get a new job,

The survey found that those in construction, tech and logistics were among the most confident in the country, with 74% of workers in manufacturing feeling confident about moving to a new job.  

Victoria Short, CEO at Randstad UK said, “The Great Resignation is here and job loyalty is a thing of the past. Very few people moved jobs during the pandemic - the missing quits. A lot of people who wanted to quit just hadn’t and they led to a deluge of resignations. Another factor is burnout. Some teams have been running too hot for too long.”   

“The pandemic has changed how some people think about life, work, and what they want out of both,” she continued. “It’s made people step back and rethink their lives.  Covid has reminded them that life is too short - and the number of vacancies means that not only do they want to change one of the key aspects of their life - their jobs - they can. In some cases, people are changing their whole careers.” 

”The most important factor however, is that ties to firms have become weaker. Working from home means you are no longer sitting next to a friend or that you have a particularly good commute. Suddenly those factors, which are surprisingly powerful, are negated; working from home makes it matter less who you work for. Combined, that is making the UK jobs market more fluid than ever.”

There was very little difference between those on fixed term contract and permanent employee although temporary workers appeared slightly more positive.

Overall, almost a quarter (24%) of employees in the UK say they plan to move jobs within the next three to six months.

The research also highlighted the sustainability of the talent pool - with 36% of people in sales and 46% of call centre workers saying they planned on leaving the industry within the next 3-6 months. At the other end of the spectrum was construction, where 84% said they wouldn’t consider leaving the industry - and risk/compliance where 88% said the same.

Job loyalty wanes

This level of job hopping will come at some cost to the UK’s private sector.  A major cost implication for firms replacing professional staff is the lost output a company experiences during the period of time the new worker is getting up to speed. 

According to research carried out by Oxford Economics, a new professional worker takes 28 weeks to reach optimum productivity - which has an attached cost of £25,200 per employee.

Adrian Smith, senior director of operations at Randstad UK said: “This could be very expensive for UK plc. By way of example, there are 275,000 accountants in the UK. If, in the next few months, even a sixth of them choose to act on their new found belief in their career prospects and get a new job with a different employer - for better pay or conditions - that would cost firms more than a billion pounds in lost productivity alone.”

Randstad advised employers and HR leaders looking to combat a mass exodus and retain their top talent to start by reexamining their remuneration levels.

Victoria Short said, “The Great Resignation is going to be tricky for those industries that can move workers around.  It is going to be very difficult indeed for industries where employees are trying to get out altogether.

“Employers can help retain staff by making sure that they feel valued by their manager, that they foster a sense of belonging and ensure people have a sense of advancement within the organisation. Research demonstrates that employees value these much higher than employers realise.”

”They should also reassure employees that they don’t want them back in the office five days a week, as employees are looking for two days a week at home. Lastly, firms must offer their staff a sense of newness - no one wants to go back to the old normal.”