The Great Resignation is alive and well here in Australia, with one in five quitting jobs in the past 12 months and another quarter considering changing jobs, according to new research from NAB.
It’s hardly surprising, given lockdowns and other COVID-19 related challenges of the past year.
These COVID challenges have had varying levels of impact on staff, often depending on their industry. In some cases, they’ve raised anxieties about the health risks associated with showing up to work each day. In other cases, they’ve seen employees having to take additional responsibilities that they were never trained for or ever would have expected taking on, such as issuing COVID safety plans, policing mask-wearing and responding to COVID outbreaks and alerts.
In some industries, staff simply haven’t been able to take a holiday or get any kind of reprieve from heavy workloads.
NAB found that 29% of employees left their job due to the impact it was having on their mental health, possibly indicating where staff have been experiencing burnout, anxiety and poor work-life balance.
However, reasons for quitting extended into other areas too.
The top reason – accounting for 30% of those leaving – was cited as a lack of personal fulfillment, purpose or meaning. That was followed by 29% who put it down to a lack of career growth.
NAB’s analysis – based on a survey of 2000 Australians – has found that these high resignation rates are not translating into more money in the hands of employees. But, as banking executive Julie Rynski told The Age, it is pushing companies to rethink the benefits they have on offer. She also said pay is not the biggest contributor to changing jobs.
And, as this research indicated, pay is not actually the biggest contributor behind employees leaving a job.
As such, this latest data indicates – yet again – the urgent need for employers to rethink how they can further support staff, even if they don’t have huge budgets for pay rises. We’ve seen innovative approaches over the past 12 months, particularly as employers move to offer everything from pandemic leave, mental health days, to additional training and development opportunities and more.
Beyond employers, the research also sends yet another message to policymakers on the risks to society and the economy if the great resignation continues, particularly across industries that are the backbone of everything else, like early childhood education, nursing and aged care.
Some employers are successfully addressing their benefits and workplace cultures in an effort to attain staff. They are getting creative on leave entitlements, and they’re working hard to address poor management, staff exhaustion and the need to promote inclusion and real flexibility.
Clearly, there are further opportunities to address some of the key reasons staff are walking, especially when considering work-life balance, poor mental health, and a lack of career development.
The cheapest and most straightforward approach, at least when an employer is involved? Ask staff individually what they actually want or need to feel supported at work, and get flexible in considering what can be one to address such needs.