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Australia’s ‘Great Resignation’ will arrive soon: ELMO report

The Great Resignation is on its way to Australia, according to ELMO’s quarterly Employee Sentiment Index. 

The findings could serve as a wake-up call for employers already dealing with a skills shortage and rising wages and if employers aren’t careful, it could get even worse. 

Workers were asked about their plans for 2022 in the survey. It found that nearly two-thirds of Australian workers (43 per cent) intend to actively seek a new job in 2022, while a third (31 per cent) plan to quit their current job as soon as they secure a new role. Nearly a fifth (19 per cent) intend to quit without another job lined up.

Moreover, the research revealed that 69 per cent of workers are concerned about being in the workplace as new variants of COVID- 19 spread throughout the community. 

ELMO Software CEO and founder Danny Lessem said that employers need to manage changing employee concerns as COVID-19 and perceived economic insecurity impact workers’ wellbeing. 

“It seems Australian workers are willing to embrace the notion of a ‘Great Resignation’. More than two in five workers say they plan to search for a new job, and a third say they are likely to quit their jobs as soon as they have a new one to go to,” Danny said.

“Managing the spread of the Omicron variant in the workplace will need to be high on employers’ agenda as 69 per cent of workers are concerned about being at work while new variants are spreading,” he continued.

“However, employers might have greater means to introduce tougher COVID-19 measures with support for mandatory vaccinations in the workplace climbing to 76 per cent. After a year of longitudinal data gathering and analysis, the Employee Sentiment Index has offered a rare glimpse into the attitudes and concerns of Australian workers. 

“This ongoing study has made clear that when workers perceive their situation to be unstable or insecure, their overall wellbeing suffers. Workers who think their job isn’t secure are far more likely to feel burnt-out than their peers,” he added.  

Despite workers’ plans to begin looking elsewhere, workers have ranked increased wages, more flexibility, more annual leave, promotion and the ability to work remotely more often as incentives that may encourage them to accept a counter-offer. 

No, it’s not about the money

Workers may be looking for a new job for reasons other than a desire for better pay. Indeed, more than half (53 per cent) of those looking for a new job believe they are fairly compensated, while 51percent think they’re recognised for their contributions. 

Employees want a workplace COVID-19 vaccine mandate

The ELMO Employee Sentiment Index found that the spread of the Omicron variant is causing considerable concern and maybe behind the 76 per cent of workers who support employers mandating employees be vaccinated against COVID-19, up from 70 per cent in the July to September quarter. 

More workers are also reporting they are uncomfortable working alongside unvaccinated colleagues, with 67 per cent voicing their concerns, up from 58 per cent in the previous quarter. 

Blame burnout

As the year came to a close in 2021, Australian workers felt more burnt-out than at any other point in the year. Burnout reached 45 per cent in the fourth quarter, up from 41 per cent in the third quarter. 

Increased feelings of being overburdened with workloads coincide with increased burnout. In the fourth quarter, one-third of workers (32 per cent) reported feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work they had to do. This was the equal highest level for 2021, mirroring the Q2 result.

Workers have also been taking more mental health days in the last quarter. In the fourth quarter, nearly one-fifth (17 per cent) of workers reported taking a mental health day. This is the highest figure since 2021, as the proportion of workers taking mental health leave has risen quarter on quarter.

Not afraid to take a leap of faith

Australian workers are reconsidering their career options once more. A quarter of Australian workers considered a career change in the fourth quarter. This was a 2 per cent increase over the previous quarter and represented the midpoint between Q1 and Q2 results. 

The number of Australian workers actively looking for a new job in their company has increased slightly since the third quarter. The percentage of Australian workers starting a new job has remained stable at 9 per cent, making Q3 and Q4 the highest quarters for new employment. 

Can employers prevent it?

The key here is for businesses and managers to understand their employees truly. According to the report, employers must rely on data to understand their workforce and identify trends that may predict flight risk to manage the resignation crisis.

Employee Sentiment Index data from the previous year revealed behavioural characteristics of employees who report ‘actively looking for a new job in another company.’

According to the report, aside from salary, employers can use various other strategies to have their talent turn down an offer from another company. 

Greater flexibility, not just remote working, is the second most influential factor that workers say would cause them to reject a job offer from another company. This is followed by more annual leave, promotion and remote working.

About the study

The ELMO Employee Sentiment Index is a quarterly study that examines Australians’ attitudes, actions, and concerns in the workplace. Respondents are asked to reflect on the previous quarter and anticipate the months ahead in the research questions. 

Each quarter, the report is completed to provide a rolling index of Australian workers’ attitudes and behaviours over time.

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Yajush Gupta

Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

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