The Great Resignation

The Great Resignation

More and more people are quitting their jobs, which could shake the world of work forever.

In the UK, the number of open jobs surpassed 1 million for the first time ever since August. 

Where there were once thousands of candidates to pick from for a single job position, more and more recruiters and employers are no longer finding they have the same amount of choice.

Instead, job seekers are taking the reins to negotiate details like salary, benefits, working conditions, and other details that otherwise may not have been afforded to them, even months ago.  

And there are several reasons why workers are walking away from jobs or seeking a change in profession: this is where ‘the great resignation’ comes in.

So how do you retain your employees in 2021 and beyond?

In this blog we’ll cover:

What is Meant by the Great Resignation?

The Great Resignation is the ongoing trend of employees voluntarily leaving their jobs, from Spring 2021 to the present.  

The Great Resignation is typically discussed in relation to the US workforce but the phenomenon is international. It’s thought to be the result of many different factors, notably workers’ dissatisfaction with current working conditions and personal reassessments of their career/lifestyle due to the changes and hardships of the pandemic.

For example: The Great Resignation has resulted in uncertainty at many companies, which have had to alter their methods for recruiting and maintaining employees.

What is Causing the Great Resignation?

But what exactly is driving so many employees to change careers, or quit the workforce altogether?

For some workers, the pandemic prompted a shift in priorities, encouraging them to become stay at home parents or start their own business. However, the vast majority of workers left because they were so unhappy in their roles.

So let’s take a look at what causes employees to be so unhappy that they feel the need to leave their job.


According to a recent report, 40% of employees said burnout was a top reason for leaving their job.

Burnout appeared to be a particular problem for those working in healthcare and hospitality. In fact, 52% of hospitality workers said that burnout was the key motivation for leaving their previous roles.

It can have a hugely negative impact on an employee’s quality of work, commitment and loyalty to the company. It can also cause a ripple effect throughout the company.

Poor Treatment

According to the BBC, poor treatment at work is another major reason behind the Great Resignation, with the pandemic highlighting already-toxic workplace cultures. 

The BBC cites a recent Stanford University study which shows that companies with a positive working culture tended to continue to treat employees kindly throughout the pandemic. 

While many companies with already-established poor working environments doubled down on decisions that didn’t support employees, such as layoffs. This drove many already-disgruntled employees to leave the company they were at altogether. 

Ultimately, poor management and poor treatment can cause lasting damage to your employees and organisation. If it's not recognised it can lead to a toxic working environment. This reputation can be hard to shake.

Desire to Work Remotely

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the importance of staying connected and the need to look after our wellbeing.

Before the pandemic, many workers had not experienced remote working. Then, at the peak of the pandemic, offices everywhere were forced to shut their doors and workers were told to work from home. 

While remote and hybrid working models were already beginning to gain popularity pre-pandemic, the pandemic certainly accelerated this new working trend, and many believe it’s a “trend” here to stay. 

With huge changes to the way in which we work, we studied the impact that working from home has had on people’s mental health. To do this we hosted a survey with insight from an esteemed psychologist to answer some of the key questions around remote working and how people feel about going back to work.

Our survey revealed that 76% of office workers do not wish to return to the office full-time and a third (33%) report that if they had to go back permanently they would look for other roles. Over 23% reported that if they had to go back to the office permanently, they would consider leaving or resigning.

If companies are still choosing to stay in the 9-5 office approach with no flexibility, employees will start to look elsewhere.

No Recognition

Recognition in the workplace is a vital contributor to employee engagement and happiness. Although traditional recognition practices seem simple, they become more complex as workplaces modernise. However, feeling appreciated is integral to the employee experience.

If employees never feel appreciated or recognised for their work and contributions, they’re less likely to be motivated and engaged. 

In fact, a recent survey found employee recognition was most important to 37% of employees. Teams scoring in the top 20% of engagement experience 59% fewer turnovers. 

Poor Company Culture

Having a great company culture is essential in today’s working world. Winning culture also improves employee engagement, leading to better retention and better productivity between employees. 

Your culture can either be your greatest strength or biggest weakness. 

More than a third of US employees say they would turn down the perfect opportunity if the culture wasn't right. 

Recommended Reading 📖: Company Culture: The Ultimate Guide

Is The Great Resignation Real?

The answer is yes!

The “Great Resignation” is seen as a workers revolution. Millions of workers chose to vote with their feet and walked out of their jobs that didn't treat them well - many without already having another position lined up. 

How do you Retain Employees in 2021?

As we’ve already discussed, employee turnover and staff retention is a major problem in 2021. 

In order to retain and engage your employees, you must really care about them. No strategy will overcome a lack of empathy or appreciation for your employees.

We’ve put together a list of 7 strategies that are designed to improve employee retention in the workplace:

Create Development Opportunities

An employee who receives the necessary training and development opportunities is able to perform their job better. 

The investment in training that a company makes shows employees that they are valued, creating a supportive working environment. 

In fact, 94% of employees surveyed by LinkedIn for its annual Workplace Learning Report said they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their professional development.

Improve your Onboarding Process

Organisations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82%

Extend a warm welcome to build off the excitement of your recruitment process and offer, and provide a smooth transition from candidate to a new hire. You should also get the paperwork out of the way so your employee’s first day can be filled with celebration, introductions, and early learning. 

A perfect way to engage your new employees is through a company intranet such as Oak. You can set up a new starter hub and ensure all documentation and information such as company policies and uniform information is stored here for ease of access.

Improve your Internal Communication Strategy

It’s clear that effective internal communications is an essential part of any organisation. So, a great internal communication strategy should be a critical aspect of your everyday operations.

Most organisations have carefully constructed strategies for communicating with clients, stakeholders, new hires and employees. When companies apply the same level of care to your employee communication plan, you’ll see a definite uplift in employee engagement and retention.

However, internal communication plans can be daunting for some organisations. Shockingly, 60% of companies don't have a long-term strategy for their internal communications. 

Are you struggling with where to start? Download our internal communications plan template. Simple and easy to follow, our template will get your planning off to the best possible start.

Create a Great Company Culture

Hiring based on shared values and cultural beliefs leads to winning results.

Arguably culture fit is the most important aspect of retaining great employees above anything else. 

But employee retention starts with first being able to clearly articulate what the organisational culture is. What are the aligned values, beliefs, behaviors and experiences that make up the organisation's environment?

66% of job seekers consider a company's culture and values the most important factor when considering career opportunities. If you’re looking to recruit top talent, your company culture should be at the top of your priority.

Give Your Employees a Voice

Listening to your employees is essential to achieving high employee retention. 

“Recognising the importance of employee voice is vital if you want to facilitate prolonged and sustainable company growth. Encouraging an open, honest and transparent environment within your business is a prerequisite to creating a more positive and productive workplace. Champion your team and they will champion you.” Will Murray, CEO of Oak Engage

Currently, a staggering 86% of employees feel that colleagues in their organisation are not heard fairly or equally.

Encouraging open and honest feedback from your employees is key to establishing a happy and productive workforce. 

Not sure where to start?

Read our post on how to encourage employee voice in the workplace📖 : Employee Voice in the Workplace [Ultimate Guide]

Create Flexible Working Environments

Our Linkedin poll results showed that 65% of employees would consider leaving their position if they didn't offer remote working. 

Flexible working can help employees achieve a good work-life balance. The time saved on commuting can be spent with friends, family or doing something they enjoy. Worries of having to rearrange appointments are eased with a more flexible calendar.

Connect with Your Team

A large part of employee engagement is taking time to connect with your people.

Business communication is integral to modern day businesses thanks to changing workforce demographics and the evolution of remote workspaces. There are several types of workplace communication and they serve a wide range of purposes. Clearer lines of workplace communication improve productivity, retains top talent and promotes employee wellbeing.

Cloud based intranet software is essential to connect the modern workforce. The employee experience itself has changed dramatically in recent years and connecting a hybrid working team is essential. 

A company intranet ensures employees have easy access to all the resources, meaning no matter when or where employees are working, all they need is a device and a signal to connect with their team.

While the Great Resignation may seem like a terrifying prospect, businesses would do well to consider it as an opportunity instead. 

Focus on what you can do to turn your company into a place that develops employees and has an excellent company culture.


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