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  • Writer's pictureHENRY REED

Is the ‘Great Resignation’ enough to explain the phenomena in Australia?

...or should we be having a different conversation right now?


While there has been no shortage of discussion in the media about the ‘great resignation’ phenomena across the world, there has been little statistical evidence to suggest this is the case for the current shift in the labour market in Australia.


There are three predominant areas that have been discussed in terms of data and statistics in this space:

1. The proportion of people changing jobs

2. The unemployment rate

3. The number of current job vacancies.


When we look at this data in concert for Australia, what is apparent is that the number of people changing jobs has declined since 2012. However, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, since 2020, there has been a relatively small but distinct increase in people changing jobs (yet still less than there were in 2012, and less than in previous decades). For the same period in Australia, the unemployment rate is at an all-time low of 3.4% and the number of job vacancies is at an all-time high with a significant increase since 2020 (which means an extra 351,000 jobs on the market in 2022 compared to 2020). By simply describing this as an effect akin to the ‘great resignation’ diminishes the opportunity for organisations to look at ways to optimise their talent processes during these unprecedented labour market conditions.


Interesting! But what does this mean for workers?

This means that more than ever, workers in Australia have a choice of where they work. It is unlikely people are leaving one job for the same or similar benefits, rather they are leaving for what they think are better opportunities. People may be making more nuanced decisions about the comparative offerings in the market, which may be informed by new perceptions formed since the pandemic. While relative to other countries, the number of changes (or job mobility) is still relatively low, there is no doubt that more people have moved jobs since 2020. Rather than a ‘great resignation’, perhaps a more likely explanation of this shift is simply the opportunity to move to work that is more suited to the individual.


So, what does this mean for businesses and leaders?

In many cases, employers are having to compete not only to acquire people in their business but at the same time, they are needing to compete to retain existing workers like never before. And to do this, some of the strategies and tactics that have worked before are no longer as effective as they once were. It is simply not enough for employers to rely on posting a job advertisement and expect a line-up of first-class talent knocking at the door. Likewise, it is not enough for employers to simply expect workers to stay based on the premise of an individual’s commitment to the organisation. The times have now changed, and it is incumbent on organisations that wish to flourish in the new era to keep up with the times and think about how to do things differently than they have before.


Why is this important to know?

For those organisations that are willing and prepared to change with the times, there could be great rewards, such as reduced lower avoidable turnover, reducing hiring costs, higher capacity, and higher productivity, to name a few. One of the unique elements of organisational life is the culture and climate within a particular organisation, which can be a real drawcard for both existing and prospective employees. It is important to note that organisational culture exists whether intended or not. During this shift in the labour market, for organisations to remain competitive, they should consider how their organisational culture is perceived both internally and externally. Organisations that are intentional about designing a culture that represents the collective identity and values of their employees are more likely to have a better opportunity to retain employees and attract high-quality candidates from the market.


As employees seek opportunities to change roles, they will often be looking for signals that demonstrate elements of an organisation’s culture and evaluating how this resonates with their personal views and ideals. Therefore, it becomes important for organisations to continue to focus on culture as a way of both retaining and attracting talent during this period of change in the labour market.


So, while there may not be a ‘great resignation’ as such in Australia, there is certainly evidence to suggest that things are changing and people are moving jobs more than they have been in recent history. In this time of unprecedented labour market conditions, organisational culture may be one of the keys to being an employer of choice as employees search for opportunities to upgrade their roles.


At HENRY REED, we understand that the connection between employee experience and organisational performance outcomes is culture. We work with clients to understand, enhance, and embed a culture that creates a competitive advantage and best positions an organisation to retain and attract quality employees to achieve individual and organisational success.


Contact us on 1300 266 995 to arrange a complimentary Culture Discovery Session to learn how our culture and leadership services turn the potential of leaders and employees into organisational performance.


Recommended Reading:

"Australia isn’t experiencing the great resignation yet, but there has been an uptick" Read the full article written by Martin Edwards and published in The Conversation.



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