I know, it’s a bit late, but anyway welcome to 2022 … another year full of excitement, challenges and of course, the unknown. Most of you by now will have heard the latest chatter in the employment market … The Great Resignation … that rippled though America and the United Kingdom in late 2021. They are now saying it will hit Australia as early as March 2022 … as you are reading this article. My challenge and discussion is whether this this fact, fiction, or opportunity? Let’s explore some of the research I have completed to determine which it is … if any or a combination of all.


Our lives are different ‘after’ COVID, and for those of you who believe COVID is still with us, correct, it is, but it is my personal belief that it will be for a long time to come, so we need to embrace our current position and move on regardless. Also, if there is a positive to come from COVID; it has made us think differently in so many ways. Some of our staff have worked from home for over 2 years in some cases, and are feeling somewhat different emotions. In the Qualtrics online survey in late 2021, staff interviewed
indicated the following:

  • 51% want more flexible hours and do not wish to return to the office full time.
  • Mental Health, Wellbeing and Work/Life Balance are now at the forefront of employee thoughts.
  • Being able to work remotely is now a deal breaker … In the past it was a ‘nice to have’.
  • Staff are looking to be compensated more than in the past … but are more productive … so maybe a quid pro quo

The other interesting comment is that it is not work/life balance anymore, but work is now just part of life and if it does not fit the way they want it to, then my work or my organisation needs to
change, not me. The other area that could fall into fact or fiction is that resignations over the past 40+ years have steadily reduced from over 17% per annum in the mid 70s down to just 7.6% in 2020. Fact: The current thinking (or fiction at the moment – unproven of course) is that because of COVID, staff have been more inclined to stay with the organisation ‘they know’ rather than move to the ‘unknown’ which
has now, in construction terms, created a pent-up demand for change. This is now the catalyst driving our potential resignations … Interesting!

Are over 50% of staff looking to leave their current employer in early 2022? Let’s get into the detail and not just gloss the headlines. In a McKinsey survey, across Australia, Singapore, and the United States, it was found that the highest turnover was in leisure and hospitality … health care workers and the social assistance sectors; not in construction … although we will not be spared.

Salary, although important, is also not the reason that people leave for those greener pastures. If you think about the facts above, some of our employees might be moving for a higher salary, but also (without telling you – unproven of course) that they only want to work 4 days a week or have more flexible hours. By succeeding in achieving the higher hourly salary, they can reduce hours and still
be on the same relative salary.

Based on the statistics above, some fact and some fiction and a little further research, half the Australian employee population is not looking to leave their current employment in droves. Employment switching has been dropping for years and may plateau or increase slightly, but I would be completely blindsided
if the numbers being discussed are true. My advice is to ignore the numbers in the Press and focus on the numbers in your business. What is happening locally is more important than what is happening
globally … particularly with your loyal staff.

Pointed question … can you tell me (or yourself) the number or percentage of staff turnover in your business currently and, more importantly, why? Forget this ‘Great Resignation’ phenomenon, look closer to home and understand what it is that makes people look for a change.


Ok, with all this hyperactive 6-year-old temper tantrum stuff, ‘I want a new job’ or ‘I want an employer that respect me’ or ‘they are forcing me to work back in the office’ … stamping of their feet or completely lying on their stomach and banging everything they can with their hands and feet (you know what I mean if you have children … or older parents) … also comes calm opportunity and the ability to retain great staff.

First, we need to make a shift to ‘talent is renewable, not replaceable’. What I mean by this is staff engagement; having an adaptive workplace that allows for flexibility; and has true values that staff, and the leadership team believe in with the opportunity to learn, develop and train. So, let’s take a quick look at each:

Staff Engagement
Put simply, this is the level of dedication and enthusiasm that a member of staff shows towards their position and the company generally. It is driven by the company’s leadership, showing respect and a genuine interest in the staff views, needs and requirements.
Adaptive Workplace
Interestingly, COVID forced many of us into creating adaptive workplaces and now that our teams have had a taste of this lifestyle, they like it and want it to continue. As noted above, flexibility, work from anywhere and being empowered to work where they are most productive can now be a deal breaker and is no longer ‘nice to have’.
True Values
Think about ethics, honesty, integrity, trust, dependability, empowerment of responsibility. Do you have any of these in your business? Most of you will answer, yes, of course … but I would challenge you to look deeper into what each word means and how you apply them in your workplace.
Understand these and you are well on your way to that absolute employer of choice.
Opportunity to Learn
Learning and development are natural instincts in all humans. If we do not have an opportunity to continue to develop ourselves and potentially others, both in the workplace and at home, our natural drive is diminished, and we look for change. How many times over the 14 years in my role have I heard ‘I
am looking around because there is no more opportunity for me to grow in this role or business’.

One thing I do know, is we can hold back this resignation tsunami by doing some simple things well. I will leave you to ponder the discussion above and as always, happy to chat more and explore how to continue to retain your high performers.