Future of Work

The Great Resignation is not over: A fifth of workers plan to quit in 2022

A person wearing a suit walking. The Great Resignation describes the record number of people leaving their jobs since the beginning of the pandemic.

The Great Resignation describes the record number of people leaving their jobs since the beginning of the pandemic. Image: Unsplash/Saulo Mohana

Stefan Ellerbeck
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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  • The Great Resignation - the record number of people that have left their jobs since the beginning of the pandemic - shows no signs of abating.
  • One in five workers plan to quit their jobs in 2022, according to one of the largest surveys of the global workforce.
  • Although most are seeking higher salaries, over two-thirds say they are seeking more fulfilment in the workplace.

The Great Resignation, a term coined in May 2021, describes the record number of people leaving their jobs since the beginning of the pandemic. After an extended period of working from home with no commute, many people have decided their work-life balance has become more important to them.

This revolution in the world of work appears to be continuing apace, with one in five workers globally planning to quit in 2022. That’s the key finding of consultancy firm PwC’s Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey of more than 52,000 workers in 44 countries and territories, carried out in March 2022. It says pay is unsurprisingly the main factor in people wanting to change jobs, with 71% citing it as a key reason.

Men were more likely than women to say they were fairly rewarded financially. The report authors say this reflects long-standing problems in wealth inequality, and they highlight the need to advance the gender-equity agenda, including pay transparency and higher female participation in the labour force.

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Job satisfaction and the Great Resignation

Yet money isn’t enough by itself to retain workers, who were almost as likely to cite intangible factors related to meaning. Job fulfilment and the ability to be one’s true self at work were ranked second and third among employees considering a job change.

While some managers may fear employees discussing sensitive and potentially divisive social and political issues at work, the survey found that 65% of workers discuss such issues with colleagues frequently or sometimes, with the number higher for younger workers (69%) and ethnic minorities (73%). The PwC report encourages employers to do more to facilitate and support these conversations.

Great Resignation  changing jobs
Pay, closely followed by fulfilment, were the most important factors when considering changing jobs. Image: PwC

Flexibility is key

Work flexibility is of increasing importance to staff, according to the report. However, there’s a disconnect with how employers see things: 26% of employees said they would prefer full-time remote working, but only 18% said their employer is likely to adopt that model.

Another 18% said their employer is likely to require full-time in-person work, which just 11% of employees prefer.

Making the working hours more flexible could deter the pace of the Great Resignations
Making the working hours more flexible could deter the pace of the Great Resignations. Image: PwC

Of course, a significant proportion of the global workforce is unable to work remotely. This group - 45% of respondents - reported less satisfaction with their job than those working in hybrid or fully remote work settings (50% compared to 63%), found the survey.

They are also “far less likely than others to say they find their job fulfilling, believe that their team cares about their well-being, think that they’re fairly rewarded financially, or feel they can be creative in their work,” according to the report.

Specialisms go a long way

Workers with specialized training are in high demand - and they know it, according to the survey.

This group was far more confident about asking for pay rises (41%, compared to 25% of workers with no specialized training) or promotions (37%, compared to 21%) in the next 12 months.

And empowered employees means greater job satisfaction - which in turn is good news for the company, PwC says, as these employees were far more likely to recommend their place of work (45%, compared to 29% of workers with no specialized training).

As specialised training empowers workers, it might motivate employees to recommend their employers than contributing to situations like the Great Resignation.
As specialised training empowers workers, it might motivate employees to recommend their employers than contributing to situations like the Great Resignation. Image: PwC

Employers must change their focus

The survey concludes that companies “must tailor their workforce strategy to the unique needs of their workers” if they are to succeed in today’s challenging environments.

It’s something that Professor Dr Isabell Welpe, of the Technical University of Munich, would likely agree with. Talking to the World Economic Forum in 2021, she said that employers need to change their focus in order to attract and retain staff. “The new normal with more possibilities for asynchronous work should enable a win-win situation for workers and organizations alike,” she said.

“The pandemic has also shown that companies that have focused on recruiting highly trustworthy, highly committed and performance-oriented individuals found the transition to more flexible and future-oriented work much easier.”

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

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