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‘Perfect storm’ responsible for Great Resignation

A majority (61%) of UK and Irish workers are seen to be ‘flight risks’, as a combination of endemic burnout, a rapidly expanding talent pool and lack of provision for flexible working cause workers to look elsewhere.

Research by HR technology firm Ceridian has similarly shown that nearly all (80%) of UKI workers are feeling some form of burnout after two years of the pandemic.

The top three catalysts for burnout were reported as being increased workloads (49%), mental health challenges (34%) and pressure to meet deadlines (32%).

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Steve Knox, VP of global talent acquisition at Ceridian, told HR magazine that the movements in the talent pool have ramped up the pressure on employees.

“The pandemic resulted in a couple of things never before seen in the workforce right now,” he said.

Firstly, the huge number of unfilled vacancies has put real strain on existing workforces.

Secondly, thanks to advances in remote working, the pool of talent available to companies has opened up in a way it never had before.

“That’s why you’re seeing such a movement in roles and opportunities – everyone’s fishing from that same pool, more jobs are open and available now to anyone, more than they ever have been, and you’re not limited to a specific geography.”

This, he added, when combined with employees’ willingness to spend more hours a day online when working from home, meant that the blurring of office and home will only continue – and thus so will burnout. 

“This always-turned-on workforce is always going to be in existence, where people are going to be working in many different time zones, at many different times of day," he said. 

“It’s been a bit of a perfect storm with all of these factors coming together, which has caused this pressure and burnout factor."

Long hours was the most commonly reported factor (at 40% of respondents) that might lead someone to quit their job, even if it was well paid. 

Knox added: “I think that people just inherently feel that pressure. The excuse is ‘I’m home, I have nowhere else to go, why shouldn’t I log onto the computer and check my email?’ I think we’re putting that pressure on each other, to always be on.

“The opportunity now for employers is to really be more transparent in their messages, showing some of that care and attention to employees around really being ‘We don’t want you to burn out, we do want you to take time away, you do need that mental wellness'.

He continued: “Managers really need to start modelling that behaviour themselves, because if they’re always on, always available, not taking vacation, that sends a very clear message to their staff."

Retention and attrition is not just an HR problem, he argued, but one for which the whole company bears responsibility.

He said: “HR can certainly help, and facilitate the conversation, and bring all these ideas, but that really does reside with each of the hiring managers and people leaders to fix. 

“Culture and attrition is a collective problem that we all need to work on together.”