The Great Australian Resignation
The rising cost of living, low pay and lack of benefits, poor work-life balance, and a general unhappiness with how employers treated them during COVID are all reasons why Australians – and workers around the world – are quitting their jobs. Dubbed ‘The Great Resignation’, it’s yet another concern for parents who are worried about the educational and societal impact of the pandemic on younger generations.
Let’s dive into the reasons behind the Great Aussie Resignation and explore how you can take advantage of the opportunities it presents.
What is the ‘Great Resignation’?
It might be the United States that is capturing most of the headlines – with large-scale worker protests and mass walk-offs happening all over the country – but that doesn’t mean Australia isn’t witnessing its own version of the Great Resignation.
One out of five Australians quit their jobs in 2021, and one in four are currently considering leaving their workplace. It makes sense when you realise how overworked and exhausted Aussie employees feel. According to a recent global survey, Australian workers are the most burnt out in the world, with 53% suffering from working too hard. That’s higher than China (41%), the USA (38%), the UK (37%) and the global average (38%). Moreover, approximately 50% of Aussie employees have had to take leave for their mental health.
What’s causing Aussies to quit in droves?
Everything from reflections on the pandemic to wanting more work-life balance is contributing to a surge in resignations across Australia. People are reflecting on what they want out of life, how to protect the life they’ve built, and how work can contribute to their happiness levels.
“The pandemic has caused people to rethink the meaning of work and how work fits into their lives,” says Amie Duignan, Founder and Recruitment Specialist at AD Connects. “They have used isolation and lockdowns to ask themselves some big questions, and it’s put a lot into perspective for a lot of people. They have sat and thought, 'What is essential to my life?’, ‘What is important to me?’, ‘Is this worth it?’ and the big one, ‘Am I happy?’ Their focus has shifted towards the importance of mental health and wellbeing.”
Duignan says the Great Aussie Resignation is becoming a movement because of this shift.
“People aren't just changing offices to balance working from home with family life,” she says. “They are changing how they think and what they define work to be. They are asking themselves questions around their old working lives and being curious: why do we work? What is work to me? Who am I working for? What is important to me? Their thoughts and feelings about the role of working and how working fits into their daily lives is definitely changing.”
How to take advantage of new opportunities
While the media tends to put a negative spin on the Great Aussie Resignation, Duignan says there are positives to come out of the disruption.
“The market right now is wild,” she says. “A lot more jobs are popping up, which is great considering that in 2020 there were huge layoffs. It is comforting to know that there is movement again, and if people were feeling dissatisfied they now have the confidence to know that they can move jobs and not be worried they will be made redundant.”
Duignan believes that fear of redundancy was one of the biggest reasons why so many people chose to stay working over the past two years, even if it wasn’t a healthy work environment.
“Now that the Great Resignation has started, everyone has lived through a pandemic and they are telling themselves, ‘The market is back up and running, so I will be safe.’ In 2020, no one felt safe. The thought of moving careers during a pandemic was terrifying, whereas now they have more stability and they feel safe, so people are going to start making career moves.”
Following your dreams
If you have been one of the many unfortunate Australians who lost their job during the pandemic, you might be worried about the best way to re-enter the market or rebuild your super to get your retirement fund back on track. Now, according to Duignan, is the ideal time to chase your ambitions and use this as an opportunity to pursue an endeavour that truly makes you happy.
“My advice would be to just go with your gut and embrace this new way of life. If you are a business owner, don't be scared of this ‘Great Resignation’. Instead, use it to your advantage and adapt some of your policies. Listen to your employees, understand them and find out what they want and need. Use this time to embrace the changes and grow, rather than falling back into old habits.”
For employees, Duignan says it’s important to be prepared before taking the leap with a job change.
“If you want to make a move, do your research and write a list of what is most important to you,” she says. “Be super curious as to what you have liked and haven't liked during your whole working career. Be specific and really get to know what ‘meaningful work’ means to you, as well as what your values are in the workforce.”
Rather than seeing the unemployment rate surge in the wake of the Great Aussie Resignation, we are actually seeing positive shifts in the employment landscape, according to the latest figures. What that means is that rather than people simply quitting and no longer working, they are seeking out more empowering careers that match their dream lifestyle.
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24 Mar 2022