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  • Matt

What is the Great Resignation?

The Great Resignation is a movement started in the United States of America following the COVID-19 pandemic, in which resignation rates rose to an all-time high as people disagreed with the American governments inaction towards COVID-19 safety precautions, and were quitting their jobs as a result.

So, what was the reasoning behind people quitting their jobs? Aside from the lack of appropriate safety precautions, many people had become accustomed to working from the comfort of their own homes, and as the various lockdowns were eased, people were unhappy about being forced back into the office, or wherever they were working before. One of the most affected industries was labour, and with the conditions not being met for people to feel safe at work, people decided to quit and start looking elsewhere.

The Great Resignation in the UK

According to a study by SD Worx, 1 in 20 (4.7%) workers in the UK left their jobs for COVID-19 related reasons, and another study by recruitment agency Randstad UK showed that 69% of people were looking to move to a new role in the next few months. It would appear that companies who offer flexible working in terms of office vs work from home are less affected by resignations, with 28% of workers in a survey of 1000 UK workers by HRD admitting that flexible working policies are encouraging them to stay in their current jobs - so should all companies be looking to offer flexible working?

Working from Home vs Going to the Office

In January 2022, 36% of working adults reported having worked from home at least once in the last week due to reasons surrounding COVID-19. Half of those home workers said that they had reduced spending due to the lack of commuting, however working from home does lead to an increase in bills - 86% said that their spending had increased. But is the cost of commuting vs working from home the main reason why people value the ability to work flexibly now? It turns out that the main reason people want to continue working from home, or at least having the flexibility to choose, is that it improves overall employee satisfaction - it creates a better work-life balance, increases productivity and ultimately saves employers money. Incredibly, 36% of employees would choose this flexibility over a pay rise.

Why do some businesses disagree with working from home?

Despite all these statistics that seemingly prove that most workers would rather work from home, there are many businesses who are going back to full-time office working anyway post-lockdown. Why is this the case? Well, there are a few reasons - firstly, the real estate costs to rent an office space that isn't being used by many employees are a huge expense for the company, and there are companies that don't want to commit to a full working from home system. Also it's possible that management for a particular business simply don't like not being able to monitor their staff and feel like they are in control, when everyone is under one roof it's relatively simple to measure productivity as well the 'power' that they have over their employees.

In summary, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a huge change in how businesses operate on a day to day basis. We now live in a society where people have, and want to continue to have, a work-life balance that is good for their well-being - and businesses may have to adapt if they want to maintain their staff and continue to grow going forward.

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