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The Great Resignation

There was widespread reporting in the UK news last week that, for the first time, job vacancies outnumbered the unemployed. That’s right; there were more job openings (1.3 million, in fact) than people claiming unemployment.

At the same time, we know that wages are stagnating (or free-falling!) when compared with sky-rocketing inflation and cost of living.

These two things combined are leading to what is being dubbed ‘The Great Resignation”. If parts of the UK are already experiencing this, the rest of the country is likely to experience something similar as the financial picture continues along its current trajectory.

After the pandemic and its lockdowns, there is also a very real trend for British workers to want to spend more time at home. This may mean them seeking a job closer to home or one that allows more flexible working practices than their current position affords them.

London is currently leading the way in ‘The Great Resignation’, but Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Cardiff are also cited for having high rates of interest in advertised jobs. The largest commuter towns are, unsurprisingly, following the same trend.

Of course, some sectors are more severely affected than others, and the reasons behind resignations are varied and complex. But what is true across the board is that, for those who are not entirely happy in their roles, opportunities are more abundant and alternatives more appealing. Therefore, it is also true to say that employers need to be doing whatever they can to keep their people engaged, happy and loyal.

According to The Circular Board, a study by Qualtrics last year found the employee engagement rate in the UK to be at just 50%. And, to place that engagement rate firmly in the context of ‘The Great Resignation’, a report by Achievers showed that companies with highly engaged employees experience a 25% - 59% decrease in turnover (as well as 41% lower absenteeism). Of course, these linked concepts shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, but the numbers are quite an eye-opener!

When it comes to keeping a workforce engaged, one headliner keeps cropping up: Internal Communications.

“Communication is your ticket to success, if you pay attention and learn to do it effectively.”

- Theo Gold

To be engaged, and to feel that we belong somewhere, we need to know and understand the purpose, vision, and values of our employer. We need to know how our work is of value and how we are contributing to the success of the business. It gives us meaning, purpose and relevance. We need to know how the business is performing (even when the news isn’t great). That gives us trust and confidence in our leaders. We need to feel connected to the business and to our colleagues, regardless of our working location and shift patterns. We need to feel that our voices are heard and that our feedback is taken on board. (The Qualtrics study found that companies that effectively turn feedback into action have an employee engagement rate of 80% - twice that of those companies that don’t.) And we need to receive regular and meaningful feedback on, and recognition for, the work we do and the contributions we make. (The Achievers report found that employers with highly rated cultures of recognition are 2.5 times more likely to see robust engagement rates than those that don’t.)

“We are stronger when we listen, and smarter when we share.”

- Rania Al-Abdullah

A meaningful and robust internal comms plan should provide for all of this. And this really should have been updated if your working practices have changed at all since the pandemic. Checking the health of your internal comms now could do wonders for your longer-term engagement scores and retention rates. That could provide your organisation’s great escape from ‘The Great Resignation’.


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