Off the back of rolling lockdowns, many Australians have had time to contemplate exactly what they want from their working lives. As border closures added extra strain, by putting a temporary pause on skilled workers entering the country, talk of a Great Resignation began to dominate headlines.

But what is the driving force behind employees’ apparent discontent – and what are they truly looking for?

There are a number of factors at play, beginning with the pressure the pandemic has put on both businesses and employees over the past two years. Almost everyone was forced into constant problem-solving mode, and often, the solutions required ongoing compromise and flexibility. 

State- and territory-imposed vaccination rules put further pressure on the labour market, with forced business closures and ever-changing WFH rules adding an extra layer of uncertainty. 

It’s perhaps unsurprising then that a recent survey by The Adecco Group, which canvassed almost 15,000 office workers globally (including 1,000 located down under), found that Australians are the most burnt out office employees in the world – ahead of the US and the UK, Italy, China and Canada. 

More than half Australian survey respondents confirmed they’d suffered from burnout in the last 12 months, and around 52% said they’ve taken time off due to mental health concerns. 

Is burnout largely to blame? 

But it’s not just exhaustion that is prompting employees to look afield for opportunities. 

Another study by the Pew Research Center from March 2022 found there were three key reasons why people quit their jobs in 2021:

  • Low pay
  • A lack of advancement opportunities
  • Feeling disrespected at work.

ABS stats from last year confirm that upwards of 600,000 Australians plan to change their jobs by the end of 2022. If you want to avoid your employees being caught up in this exodus trend, one of your key considerations should be genuinely engaging with your team. 

One of the main reasons why Australians resign from a position is a perceived lack of career development or growth opportunities. Business owners or leaders keen to avoid being impacted by the Great Resignation trend should focus on building employee engagement through initiatives like annual remuneration reviews, tailored career development plans, and embracing processes and practices that invite feedback. Loyalty comes with genuine engagement, so encouraging open communication and ensuring your staff feel valued for their contribution is a great way to encourage them to stick around.

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