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What Has Triggered the Great Resignation?

‘The Great Resignation’ is the latest industry buzz phrase but it is an accurate one, with Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index finding 41% of employees are considering leaving their jobs in the next year.

Here in the UK, a further survey found close to 70% of employees feel confident to find a new role, with almost a quarter (24%) saying they’ll make that move within the next three to six months. The Engineer 2020/2021 Salary Survey uncovered almost 37% of those in the engineering sector (including those with Automotive Engineering jobs) are looking to move, with 72% open to a lateral shift into another sector.

But why the big migration? While the reasons for The Great Resignation are certainly multi-faceted, here we cover a selection of the most common.

1. Candidates Now in the Driver’s Seat

Late last year, UK job vacancies hit a 20 year high. This meant candidates in high-demand fields, such as engineering, found themselves in the enviable position of having a choice of roles. This is quite a recruiting power shift as traditionally, employers have been in the driver’s seat. As a result, employees have greater confidence to look for greener pastures, secure in the knowledge they will find a new position.

2. Better Pay

The Engineer 2020/2021 Salary Survey found automotive engineering salaries increased by almost 14% from 2019 to 2020, which is a significant pay bump. It’s perhaps no surprise then that 62% of respondents said it’s a major factor in their decision to change jobs.

3. Growth & Challenge

In an industry experiencing a tremendous amount of change and innovation, professional development is not only important for employees, but a must.

For many businesses struggling to keep running during the pandemic, their employees’ professional growth had to take a backseat. The only option for staff keen to continue to learn was to take another position offering those opportunities.

In a similar vein, a high percentage of engineers from The Engineer survey said the possibility of a new challenge was a key factor in their decision to move jobs (59%).

Work Culture

It’s easy to think pay is the most important reason for an employee’s decision to resign. But a comprehensive survey of U.S. workers who left their job between April and September 2021, found that a toxic work culture was the biggest factor (10 times more so than compensation).

Respondents defined a toxic work culture as one that lacked diversity, equity and inclusion; as a place where employees felt disrespected and that the company behaved unethically (both staff and leadership).

Their Flame Expired

Employee burnout is prolific thanks in part to the pandemic. During this stressful time, a portion of employees found it difficult to switch off due to remote work, leading to a melding of personal and professional life and a feeling of always being ‘on’.

With increased work demands comes a natural feeling of fatigue and frustration, and this led to burnout in many cases. For such employees, they chose to up sticks and move rather than deal with trying to change their current work conditions.

The Pandemic Forced a Reassessment of Personal & Professional Priorities

Working in a face-to-face environment comes with perks that break up the day, such as coffee with colleagues or water fountain discussions – often a welcome respite from the hard work that’s always waiting.

But in a shift to remote work, many of these distractions were removed and all that was left was work and some extra downtime. Many workers used this time to critically reassess what was important to them, both personally and professionally. And quite a few found they actually didn’t enjoy the work they were doing. Or that their work culture didn’t allow them to strike the right balance with the ones they love. The result? They voted with their feet.

No Recognition, No Respect

While financial rewards are important, recognition ranks very highly on employee retention lists. With employees being asked to do more than ever during the pandemic, companies that failed to adequately recognise and reward their most productive team members experienced the highest levels of attrition.

Another area where many businesses fell down was their response to the pandemic. Those that didn’t adequately look after their employees’ health and wellbeing also felt the brunt of resignations.

Work Flexibility

If the pandemic taught the world one thing, it’s that hybrid working can and does work. While some employees found it hard to juggle remote work and home lives, a great many others thrived – fully enjoying the benefits it brought to their lifestyle. This is reflected in the EY 2021 Work Reimagined Employee Survey. Of 16,000 employees surveyed across 16 countries, 54% said they’d consider leaving their job if they didn’t have some type of work flexibility.

Businesses that don’t offer such conditions in the future – be it a work-from-home option, flexible start and finish times, or simply an openness to allow employees to attend important family events during the day – will likely find themselves with high levels of employee attrition.

How to Avoid Your Version of The Great Resignation

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons behind ‘The Great Resignation’. But your company needn’t experience your own. For most resignation reasons given above, there are solutions to ensure your top talent remains engaged and happy at your firm.

As specialists in Automotive Engineering recruitment, it’s our job to intimately understand what drives employees in this field and we’re well placed to offer advice to help you retain your best (plus entice a few more onboard!). Please get in touch to find out more.