As explored in our last paper, the adverse economic, financial and other effects of the pandemic created uncertainty in the minds of employees and business leaders. The last year or so has been tough for many.

intent to resign

Businesses have experienced layoffs, closures and risk-minimisation behaviours like hiring freezes.

Employees (even those unhappy with their current job) perhaps felt enough security as an established part of their work team to outweigh the risks associated with seeking a new role, particularly given reduced numbers of job opportunities.

Now, as economies kick-start, borders reopen, social restrictions lift, business sentiment improves and medical risks reduce, the demand for key talent is reported to be greater than supply in many countries. We now face an employees’ market, and a period of low wage growth in many countries is due for reassessment.

Lockdowns and working from home gave many employees the opportunity to reflect and realise what they wanted from work. They now want work that suits their life and if they’re not happy, they are willing to resign.

Many recent surveys of employee intentions confirm the reality and scope of the looming ‘Intent to Resign’ challenge facing businesses worldwide:

  • A Workman iQ survey1 found that 38% of workers (UK: 46%, Ireland: 42%, USA: 36%, Canada: 36%) are planning “to look for a job in the next 12 months”, a result 80% higher than the December 2019 survey,
  • In the USA, a Prudential survey2 identified that 42% of US “remote workers say that if their current company doesn’t continue to offer remote-work options long term, they will look for a company that does”,
  • In Canada, a Bank of Canada survey3 reported a 19.2% chance of respondents leaving their “job voluntarily during the next 12 months”, a 74% increase since the previous year,
  • In Australia, a survey by PwC4 identified that 38% of workers “are looking at leaving their current employer in the next 12 months”,
  • In NZ, the AUT Wellbeing@Work survey5 found that the number of participants with “high turnover thoughts” increased by 34% in the 12 months to April 2021, with “low skilled workers” …. “the most likely to leave.”
  • A global survey by Microsoft6 concluded that “41% of the global workforce” (including 54% of Gen Z respondents) is “likely to consider leaving their current employer.”

The good news is that this incoming global ‘Intent to Resign’ risk can be influenced and reduced by forward-thinking leaders who are willing to:

  • Find out what their employees really think about work, including what employees want and need, and
  • Be innovative, flexible and generous in response to employee desires.

The first step in this process is understanding how and why employees have rethought their relationship with work. This will be explored in our next paper.


Partner | Employment & Labour Team Leader
Senior Partner
Global Head of Employment and Labor
Head of Employment - Europe, Middle East and Asia
Partner, Canadian National Chair, Employment and Labour

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