At the end of 2021, it was tipped that 2022 would be the year of ‘the great resignation’. At that stage, Australia had just experienced its lowest employee turnover since the Australian Bureau of Statistics started tracking labour mobility in 1972. Simultaneously, Seek announced they had the highest number of job ads posted in their 23+ year history. Within this post-pandemic recovery and growth recipe came the expectation that there would be an avalanche of people looking for a job change in 2022, seeking remuneration and reward. BUT, did the great resignation really happen – was it fact, or was it fiction?
The great resignation – USA vs Australia
The term ‘the great resignation’ was coined in the USA after years of sub-standard employee conditions and the recessionary fallout of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. So yes, the great resignation did occur in the USA.
But we are not America, and what happened there is not directly related to our labour market and work culture. Yes, Australians are after a better balance between work and other commitments, but from what we’ve seen, that hasn’t resulted in the great resignation. For one, our job participation rate is high unlike that of the USA (and many other countries), so those who can work are getting jobs and are willing to stay there, and salaries are much the same on like-for-like roles regardless of employer.
Australia and change
Overall, Australian companies tend to adapt well to change. Since the height of the pandemic, many businesses have reassessed employee demand for work-life balance. They know they have a part to play in the flexibility around family and career or risk losing their employees.
Since the height of the pandemic, new doors have opened for employees’ negotiation of salaries and other benefits in a candidate-short market with new employers. Though, many understand that the market isn’t always buoyant, and that building mutual respect and understanding with their current employer can also result in opportunities to progress their careers.
The great resignation – fact or fiction?
So, what we saw in 2022 was that many people had been looking at negotiating better work options, promotions and articulating their value to their employers instead of resigning and moving on to another company. There was a lot of media hype around the narrative of the great resignation, but in our opinion, it ended up being mostly rhetoric.
So, as much as the great resignation did not occur in 2022 as predicted, it will be interesting to see what 2023/24 holds considering our inflation rate is sitting at over 7%, the unemployment figure is tipped to rise, our international borders are open again to migrants who could alleviate the candidate shortages of the past couple of years.
We advise that no matter what happens in the job market, it’s all relative – there will always be ups and downs. What matters is to be job ready. As we’ve mentioned in the past, The Urban Developer reports that skill shortages will be “the challenge of the decade” for Australia’s construction industry.
For candidates, now is a great time to progress in your career. It’s time to stick your hand up and let your employer know you are ready to take on more responsibility. You are prepared to receive more training in tasks that are not in your current role and be trained in some of your manager’s duties, by taking some of their workload and preparing yourself to step up.
You will always be at an advantage if you are job-ready and keen to learn more. It’s best to put the onus on yourself to be ready to hit the ground running. You’ll then be better positioned to maximise your learning of other roles when that training or mentoring presents itself. By being job-ready, you are taking control – it’s a great way to stand out from the crowd and progress your career goals quicker, regardless of what is predicted for the job market.
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