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The Great Resignation V2? Lessons and what’s next

The Great Resignation may be over but is Great Resignation V2 on its way? Chris Roebuck looks at some of the lessons and how to beat V2 in three simple steps

Great Resignation

The Great Resignation may be gone but resignation is still with us and significantly more potent than before.

We only see the tip of the iceberg and what's hidden beneath the surface could give a significant number of organisations their Great Resignation 2.

What caused the Great Resignation?

The Great Resignation was a combination of factors which created a perfect storm:

  1. COVID-19 meant few people were able to change jobs when they wanted. This created two years of pent up departures ready to be released
  2. Most people’s experience during Covid caused them to reprioritise family and personal life more versus work
  3. As a result most people are now significantly less tolerant of poor leadership and organisational culture.

Why did people leave?

Key reasons for departure from McKinsey include :

  • Not feeling valued by your boss or the organisation
  • Lack of engagement
  • Unmanageable workloads
  • Lack of development and potential for advancement
  • Lack of flexible working and poor work life balance

These aren’t new. They are the same reasons why people have always left jobs, but  people are now more likely to leave if they experience these.  

This is reflected in falls in employee engagement which showed a consistent rise until 2019, on a global average to about 22%, but has dropped since then year on year. The only logical explanations are either that leaders suddenly got worse or that the benchmark which people measured them against rose. The evidence confirms the latter.

More people will leave more quickly in the future unless action is taken to significantly improve the quality of leadership and culture across organisations.

Leaving with no job to go to

A significantly greater percentage of people are now prepared to leave a job without another to go to. Previously it was a small minority but this  rose in the Great Resignation to 76% and is still around that level. 

A similar figure will either leave, or not apply for, roles where hybrid working is possible but is not permitted or highly restricted. This is particularly the case with Gen Z.

There is a clear Gen Z challenge building up, currently 20% of the workforce but by 2030 40%. Gen Z are even less tolerant of poor leadership and culture and will leave significantly more quickly.  

Will recession stop the Resignation ?

Recession and the rising cost of living has led some to say that this will dissuade people from leaving. If people aren’t happy but can’t leave they will just become quiet quitters instead, doing the minimum possible.

Great Resignation becomes quiet quitting

Then your problem becomes quiet quitting, and you can’t tell who is doing it. They will meet satisfactory performance requirements, but could be withholding approximately 30% of potential effort. Overall that could be 30% lost effort from up to 60% to 70% of people. That’s your ‘risk of lost profit’. If that’s turned round by improved leadership so that people give their best it could add 10 to 15% on to the bottom line.

Ignoring these issues doesn't make them go away it just sets you up for Great Resignation 2 when the economy improves.

Beat the Great Resignation 2 in three simple steps

There are three  simple steps that can beat the Great Resignation 2 and reduce leaving. It’s achieved through simple day to day actions by leaders being better at engaging, inspiring and developing their people. These are :

  1. Firm foundation of task delivery skills - which a significant proportion of leaders currently lack. For example, around 75% of leaders have never been shown how to delegate effectively. Have you?
  2. Get the best from everyone – simple day-to-day actions which leaders know about but which they aren't using effectively and which will get your 30% extra effort
  3. Focus on to what delivers success – ensuring that there is alignment between operational activity and strategic objectives.

This isn’t an assumption, it’s backed up by significant evidence from multiple sources and, having taken this approach myself in a number of major organisations, the positive results we achieved using these steps delivered real impact and bottom line improvement.   

To learn more hear examples of these in action from successful global leaders.

Simple actions deliver a powerful solution

What is happening beneath the surface presents a current and growing threat to organisations, but Resigning and the Quiet Quitting time bomb can be easily defused by taking these really simple steps now. They can be taken tomorrow and cost the organisation nothing. Not only that, but if done well they could add 10% on to the bottom line for free. Not a bad investment of a little thought, time and effort. 

Chris Roebuck, pictured below, is a global speaker and advisor with experience in military, senior engagement, leadership and transformation roles. He has been one of HR Most Influential Thinkers 10 times, hon visiting professor of transformational leadership and helps leaders and organisations be more successful in 3 Simple Steps. For a more in depth version of this article and other articles on what key knowledge leaders need check out Chris’s Web or Linkedin

Chris Roebuck

Published 15 March 2023
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