The pandemic indeed left a mark on the Aussies’ minds, resulting in “The Great Resignation in Australia” to some extent. With COVID-19 came uncertainties, which created doubts in the minds of people. This led them to introspect within and ask themselves a simple question “What I’m currently pursuing, is it worth it?”.
They say, “Giving yourself a year can take you miles ahead of your peers.” But general folks like us can’t even take a day off, let alone a year.
But with the pandemic came the concept of social distancing and quarantine. Further, to enforce the above-mentioned came lockdowns. Being stuck within the confined space of one’s house with a hefty amount of spare time became the new norm.
The human brain that was earlier occupied with day-to-day struggles was now free as a dove. It had nothing else to do except play their life events in rewind in their minds.
“Introspection leads to the identification of errors which further leads to the urge to correct them.”
Keeping the philosophical part in mind, let us look at the events that lead to “the great resignation in Australia”.
What Exactly is “ The Great Resignation”?
The Great Resignation (also known as The Big Quit), a term coined by the organizational psychologist Anthony Klotz, is used to describe a wave of people quitting their old jobs in the hope of restarting their careers afresh.
This phenomenon first came to light when the Labor Department’s job openings and Labour Report was published. It showed that over 4.5 million US workers left their jobs in November 2021. Turnovers were at an all-time high in the US.
The pandemic led people to rethink their priorities which left the job and labour market with an empty workforce. It increased the supply and demand equation for remote jobs. Employees assessing flexible working, remuneration, working hours, and work-life balance is the new ask in the town.
When asked about “the great resignation,” Klotz gave three predictions:
1. Increase in Competition for Remote Jobs
The pandemic left companies with no choice but to switch to remote working. Digital platforms were used to communicate and work. A survey of 300 companies had been conducted by the World Economic Forum. 43% of the 300 companies that participated in it expected to reduce their workforces due to innovative technologies.
The skilled labor shortage was also a major contributor to it. Remote working pushed companies to hire a more deserving international workforce which would benefit them more as now they would have to pay less for the same roles which saves them labor costs.
2. A Slower Pace of Great Resignation in the Future
Due to very tight competition, companies would try to offer incentives to the workers to avoid employee turnover.
3. Flexible Work Hours being the Norm Instead of Exception:
The benefits of working flexibly include both employees’ mental health and work-life balance. According to Anthony Klotz, the work culture would collectively take a positive step for the workers in the right direction. He suggested that in the future, employees’ demands for personal life and work would go hand in hand.
The Not-So-Great Resignation in Australia
A PwC Australia survey of more than 1,800 Australians suggested that 38% of Australian workers were ready to leave their employers. About 61% of them left their previous work in the past year and were looking to leave their current work within the following year.
Another 55% of workers were expected to stay with their employer for even more money in the coming five years.
In contrast, it also showed that 93% of workers had trust in their employer too. They suggested that the great resignation in Australia was just around the corner in the year 2021.
However, as they say, the reality of job switching is often disappointing. The report presented by the Australian Bureau of Statistics suggested that in 2021 only 7.5% of Australians changed their jobs.
This number somewhat increased up to 9.5%. But it was still way less than in 1972 when about 12.52% of skilled workers in Australia changed their job.
There’s been a bit rise in quit rates since 2022. However, it’s still approaching the mean average unemployment rate drop in the last five years which is about 8.34%. There’s a difference between “considering to quit” and “actually quitting” the job which is evident.
Due to the great resignation, recent job mobility rates for job vacancies due to resignation increased from 78.6% in 2020 to 79.7% vacant jobs, in 2022. This slight increase is next to nothing as it represents only 0.014% of job mobility for the total working population in Australia. It’s much less than any other country that experienced the great resignation.
The Resulting Job Boom
Moreover, the unemployment rate in Australia clocked around 3.4% in October 2022-a half a century low. The whole unemployment rate dropped by nearly 21,000.
ANZ job market ads data showed a 1:1 ratio of job ads and job seekers to hunters. This meant that for every job out there, there’s a person who can have it.
This job boom could have been because of a skills shortage. But the most logical reason is that in those times each and everyone wanted job security so they were willing to accept the wages. Rather than quit switching jobs in protest to find a better-paying one, they stayed with their current employer.
Moreover, due to the high-interest rates in the post-pandemic world, people were forced not to quit.
In conclusion, there were resignations in the post-pandemic times but there was nothing great about it. It was a bit higher turnover rate jump than usual, but the number of jobs increased to making it even-steven.
The Great Burn-Out
A side of the post-pandemic world that is often less looked upon is mental health. Before COVID-19, people were literally cruising around and working their hearts out every day in hopes of feeding their families.
But when they were forced to stay home and spend time with their family, the more they gave it a thought, the more things became clearer to them that no matter however they try hard to make ends meet, if they don’t spend time with there loved ones they are bound to drift apart from them.
The post-Coronavirus world is not the same anymore. Out of 1400 employees included in a study in Australia in 2022, nearly 50% of workers quitting the prime-aged worker(between 25 and 55) felt exhausted beyond imagination.
40% of the total number employed reported that the excitement to work was at an all-time low. 33% of the total were not even able to concentrate at work because of reasons that weren’t related to work whatsoever.
A point to be noted is that most of these people once thought about quitting their job. But they still turned to work because of wage demands and the responsibilities on them. These were referred to as the “quiet quitters.” If that’s not a sign of the “burn-out,” then don’t know what is!
While reason varied from person to person, the most common among them (for the “burn-out”) were the lockdowns. Especially, parents felt a sense of added childcare and household responsibility to their already stressful and evolving jobs. This was directly proportional to poor mental health concerns.
There was also substantial evidence of a steep rise in people taking an off day from their work. This signified the exhaustion that employees felt.
After considering a great number of factors such as various studies, facts, and figures, a simple conclusion can be drawn. That is, “there were resignations but there was nothing great about ‘the great resignation in Australia.’”
However, there was a steady increase in the number of people feeling more and more emotionally and socially drained. The feeling of happiness was getting more and more short-lived which resulted in many employees feeling burned out.
The Australian companies were quick in accessing it and took appropriate measures to counter it. They made the hours of work flexible and were quick in adopting the concept of a “hybrid work culture”. Remote working turned out to be a new normal, and giving bonuses on Christmas turned out to be a boon.
These measures proved to be the right. They indeed gave the much-needed energy to the Australian workforce to prepare them for a new tomorrow. A new tomorrow filled with new challenges to be faced.