Quitting time: why the urge to move jobs has crossed the Atlantic

This WORKTECH Academy briefing explores UK research which shows that ‘The Great Resignation’ is no longer just a US phenomenon – and looks at a circular economy for lighting

‘The Great Resignation’ was a phenomenon in America first. In summer 2021, a US Labour Department report revealed that a record of four million Americans had quit their jobs in April alone, sparking a national debate on why so many employees should choose to leave their jobs at a time of  considerable economic uncertainty.

Now, the job-quitting trend has officially crossed the Atlantic. According to a survey of 6,000 employees by the recruitment firm Randstad UK, 69 per cent of people in Britain feel confident about moving to a new role in the next few months, and 24 per cent – one in four workers – are planning a change within three to six months. Randstad UK said it would normally expect up to 11 per cent of workers to move jobs every year.

‘The Great Resignation’ is costly for employers. Research carried out by Oxford Economics found that it takes recently hired professional workers 28 weeks to reach optimum productivity – which has an attached cost of £25,200 per employee.

‘It takes recently hired professional workers 28 weeks to reach optimum productivity…’

There are, however, proven ways to retain staff. One way is to improve pay, which has been stagnant for decades; another is to improve conditions, which could give the workplace design sector a welcome boost.

Victoria Short, CEO at Randstad UK, told The Guardian that some of those looking for new jobs were workers who had stayed in roles they were unhappy with during the pandemic. She added: ‘Another factor is burnout. Some teams have been running too hot for too long.’

What is clear is that Covid-19 has made people step back and reassess what they want from work and life – and they’re not cowed by the prospect of being unemployed. The Randstad UK survey found that only 16 per cent of workers are worried about getting a new job – those currently employed in construction, tech and logistics are all confident they will find new opportunities.

For private sector employers, however, mass resignations will come at a cost.

 Circular economy of light

In a week when the COP 26 conference on climate change in Glasgow has been garnering all the headlines, the role of new office design in moving to net carbon is on everyone’s radar.

So it is a timely move for the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) and the Society of Light and Lighting (SLL) in the UK to be launching a new report on circular economy principles for the lighting industry. This technical memorandum seeks to identify the extent of current knowledge and provide a framework for assessment and action.

Office towers lit up all night in central business districts have long been a target for environmental activists, as have light fittings discarded during repeated interior refits. You can read the lighting paper here.

Join us in America

WORKTECH’s long-running face-to-face conference and exhibition series in the US kicks back into action this autumn, exploring the future of work and the workplace. We start on Friday 3 December at 1 Liberty Plaza for WORKTECH New York, where heads of workplace, corporate real estate, technology and more will discuss sessions such as The Intelligent and Experiential Workplace with speakers from JLL, Deutsche Bank and Accenture. There will also be a keynote session from technology columnist from The New York Times, Kevin Roose, on ‘9 Rules for Humans in the Age of Automation’. Book your in-person ticket here

Following on from New York, the series moves to San Francisco on Tuesday 7 December and then Los Angeles on Thursday 9 December 2021. To book a ticket for these events, visit the website and to attend virtually, purchase your ticket as normal, but add the code WT21-hybrid to redeem a 20 per cent discount on your booking. For more information, please email: [email protected]

This WORKTECH Wednesday Briefings, we reach out to our 10,000-plus Academy members, WORKTECH attendees, speakers, partners and sponsors while WORKTECH’s professional conference series continues through our virtual and hybrid platforms. This edition is posted 3 November 2021.
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