Talent Turbulence / They're calling it the Great Resignation

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Photo by Johnny Cohen / Unsplash

In the Radar Report for H2 2021, we specifically identified a topic, 'Talent Turbulence', that surveys the effects of political change, societal change and the pandemic on the world of employment. The theme describes the challenges to attracting, managing and retaining good people in the knowledge sector for the next six months.

Since publishing the Radar Report there's been some significant and eye-opening data and workplace studies published that have amplified several of the findings specifically in that topic. They give credence to anecdotal stories of the dynamics of the job market and whispered experiences of being an employer now, over eighteen months into the coronavirus pandemic.

In early June, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics published its headline analysis of the American workplace for April 2021. It included the astonshing report that 4 million US employees quit their job in April, the largest monthly total on record. That came on a rising tide through the first quarter of the year — 3.3 million in January; 3.4 million in February; 3.5 in March. In May the rate dropped, but June turned upwards again to 3.9 million resignations.

There are similar reports from elsewhere. Widely-cited research from Microsoft based on a survey of 30,000 workers around the globe suggests 41% of employees are considering leaving their current job, either quitting or changing careers. Prudential's Pulse of the American Worker survey suggests that a quarter of American employees intend to look for a new job as the end of the pandemic nears.

Dynamics like these led Anthony Klotz, an associate professor of management at Texas A&M University, to call this 'the Great Resignation'.

What is it? What's going on? And what might it mean? To understand what it is and how it might affect agency life, and most importantly what might need to be done about it, we need to look a little deeper.

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