The Great Resignation: What happens next?

As companies struggle with what workplaces should look like going forward, findings from a new LHH and The Adecco Group study reveal global workers’ attitudes about remote versus in-person work, how their companies have handled the pandemic, their career plans moving forward, the state of mental health in the workplace and the truth about the Great Resignation.

Findings from the Resetting Normal: Defining the New Era of Work study show that a large number of workers globally (53%) want a hybrid working model where more than half of their work time is remote. Productivity has not suffered with remote work, with 82% saying they feel as productive or more productive than before. Wellbeing has taken a hit, however, with more than half of young leaders (54%) reporting they have suffered burnout and three in 10 stating their mental and physical health has declined in the last 12 months. Workers want to reduce their hours and be measured based on results. Despite 50% of workers in the UK logging more than 40 hours a week over the past year, only two thirds of those polled believed that such hours are necessary to get the job done. Meanwhile, 73% of workers globally are calling to be measured by outcomes rather than hours.

“Wellbeing in the workplace has become a tipping point in employee satisfaction,” said John Morgan, President, LHH. “Workers are not opposed to hard work or coming back to the office, but they want to do so on their own terms – with more flexibility and recognition both for their work contributions and their mental and physical health.”

Two themes that emerged from the study are that the Great Resignation is currently a Great Re-Evaluation for salaried employees and a growing disconnect between leadership and their employees.

The Great Resignation

The study found that nearly two in five employees are already changing or considering new careers and 41% are considering moving to jobs with more flexible working options. A quarter of the workforce is considering moving to another country or region.

The market is ripe: two-thirds of workers are confident that companies will start significant hiring again, and less than half are satisfied with career prospects at their current company.

“The key word is ‘considering’,” said Morgan. “What we’re seeing is actually not yet a Great Resignation when it comes to non-hourly workers, but rather a Great Re-Evaluation in which salaried employees are seeing more possibilities available to them, which puts everything on the table. Companies need to recognise the warning signs that great talent could soon be walking out the door and address demands for increased work-life balance and career advancement opportunities.”

The Leadership Disconnect

Study findings point to a large disconnect between employees and their managers and senior leadership. While 80% of leaders say they are satisfied with senior leadership, only 43% of non-managers are satisfied. Satisfaction with leadership is particularly low in the areas of company culture and career advancement opportunities. Among the findings:

  • Less than half are satisfied with career prospects at their company and only 37% of non-managers say their company is effectively investing in developing their skills
  • Only 48% of workers say their managers meet or exceed expectations for encouraging a good working culture
  • Just 50% of workers say their managers meet or exceed expectations for helping support their work-life balance
  • 67% of non-managers say leaders don’t meet their expectations for checking on their mental wellbeing

Looking at the UK specifically, 63% of UK respondents said that they are motivated at work, and half said they had generally been happier at work since the pandemic started (52%). However, that does not mean the picture is entirely rosy in the UK, which ranked worse against the global average in several troubling trends. For example, only half of respondents (51%) here were satisfied with the performance of senior leaders (below global average) and only 42% were satisfied with their career prospects.

To complicate matters, the UK is the only country polled which reported higher levels of anxiety about going back into the office (52%) than excitement at seeing colleagues (48%). To compound this, over half of UK managers have not found it easy to manage the workforce on issues of burnout (58%) and mental wellbeing (60%).

And, more concerning, 35% of UK respondents said their mental health got worse during the pandemic, which was above the global average, and 37% admitted to suffering from burnout. Only 13% believe their employers will provide coaching to help them deal with mental stress and burnout, the third lowest score of all countries surveyed.

“Employees need leaders to step up to the plate right now, and leaders also need support,” said Morgan. “Companies should invest in coaching for their leaders so they can  better identify and address issues that could otherwise become the reason employees leave.”