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The "Great Resignation"

  • May 2023

The “great resignation” is the employment trend that will not subside. Since early 2021, workers have been quitting their jobs en masse. As resignation letters pile up, companies are scrambling to hold on to talent and hire the right new people. 

In 2022, 18 percent of employees left their jobs, according to the Microsoft Work Trend Index 2022 that was based on surveys of over 30,000 workers in 31 countries. What’s more, 43 percent of employees are considering leaving their current employer within the next year. 

The situation is particularly pronounced in the United States, where a record 47.8 million workers quit their jobs last year – an average of nearly 4 million every month, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. A structural gap is growing in labour supply – there are simply not enough traditional employees to fill all job openings. At the end of March 2022, there was a record high of 11.5 million job openings in the United States. 

The United States alone doesn’t have a monopoly, though; other countries are also not faring well. Take the United Kingdom, for example, where a survey of 1,000 workers found that a third were considering a job change. Worldwide, one in five workers are planning to quit their jobs.

Added to this mass exodus, people are simultaneously switching between jobs far faster than previously. Just look at Australia, where one million workers started new jobs in the three months to November 2021. The rate at which people take up new jobs in the country is almost 10 percent higher than before Covid-19.

To summarize, we currently see three major movements in the job market:

  1. A record number of people are quitting their current jobs.
  2. There is a growing number of open positions – and they remain open.
  3. It is increasingly uncertain whether a new employee will stay with the company, even in the short term.

The overall result is that the market is becoming more and more employee-driven. You might speculate, “Surely, once things normalize after the pandemic or the next recession hits, things will go back to how they were before?” We fundamentally disagree. In our opinion, the power dynamics of the job market have shifted for the long term.

Written by
Clemens Fahrbach
Clemens Fahrbach
Clemens Fahrbach is active in Egon Zehnder’s Leadership Services Practice. He is a valued advisor on leadership development…
Julius zur Nedden
Julius zur Nedden
Julius zur Nedden arbeitet mit Klienten daran, ihre Unternehmenskultur großflächig zu verändern, die Dynamik und Effizienz von Führungsteams zu stärken und Führungspersönlichkeiten nachhaltig zu entwickeln. Julius zur Nedden erwarb einen M.Sc. in Wirtschafts-, Organisations- und Sozialpsychologie und einen B.Sc. in Kommunikationswissenschaften an der LMU und ist als Berater für Immunity to Change (ITC) sowie 16PF/Hogan zertifiziert.
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