Riding The Great Resignation Wave in Singapore: What to Know

After consecutive lockdowns, something unprecedented happened – The Great Resignation. Large hordes of employees are resigning from their jobs. Industries are facing sudden spikes in manpower shortage.

When routine lockdowns were the norm, people had adapted to the flexibility afforded by remote work. Now that the world is less distracted by the pandemic and wants to reopen, employees are expected to jump back on the 9-5 bandwagon and continue from where they left off.

What is The Great Resignation?

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The Great Resignation is an idea proposed by Professor Anthony Klotz of Texas A&M University in 2021. It predicts many will quit their jobs after the COVID pandemic is over and life resumes normality.

As countries cautiously reopen their economies, businesses now find themselves operating in a whole new environment. The post-COVID workplace era is different, notably with the “new normal” being a hybrid work trend.

Why is The Great Resignation Happening?

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Microsoft found that over 49% of Singaporeans are planning to leave their company in 2021 according to its first annual Work Trend Index. Qualtrics found 58% of Singaporean workers are planning to shift careers in 2022, citing these reasons:

1. Re-evaluation of priorities

People are reconsidering their personal and professional boundaries. There is a re-evaluation of their emotional, mental, and physical well-being. This includes how they relate to their co-workers and bosses; alongside the brands they work with.

2. Lack of a clear career advancement path

Most entry to mid-level professionals seek careers that allow them a higher degree of autonomy and freedom.

Most employees want the ability to influence change within their companies and a clear future. Once employees no longer see a clear career path with their current employer, they may begin looking for a company that can offer them one.

3. Salary and employee benefits

Not surprisingly, top candidates leave their employers due to wage stagnation or minimal pay increment during their tenure. Although their employer may offer an annual merit increase or inflation adjustment, these talents see the potential to land a heftier salary by jumping companies.

How does The Great Resignation affect you?

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Employees between the ages of 30 and 45 saw the largest increase in resignation by 20% in 2020 and 2021. Increased workloads and stagnated hirings have given employees more flexibility in finding new opportunities. For them, the opportunity cost is low and the employment market is vibrant. Then the pandemic accelerates this process.

For Employees: Before saying “I resign”, consider this:

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1. Make sure you know what you want to do and what you don’t.

List your negotiables and non-negotiables so you can pursue positions that align with your goals. Scratch off any that do not meet your needs.

2. Advertise your hard and soft skills

When you are transitioning into a new industry, it is crucial to identify your skill sets. Hard skills are teachable skill sets that are easily quantifiable. Soft skills relate to the way you relate to and interact with other people.

3. Optimize your LinkedIn profile and resume

It attracts recruiters and hiring managers. This means creating a resume that is applicant tracking system-friendly and using various industry-specific keywords.

4. Network extensively

There is no timeline to networking. Connect with people where you are, as you can, to let them know you are searching for a new position. Approach human resources consulting firms and agencies.

5. Learn how to negotiate

Speak up for what you want. Negotiate the terms of your employment. Compensation is a prime consideration when you are deciding whether to negotiate the terms of a job offer. In the short term, you could end up feeling resentful if you settle for a job that you don’t think fairly rewards your skills and experience.

For employers: What can you do to incentivize employees to return to work?

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1. Be flexible.

A recent study by Slack found that flexibility is a key reason employees are attracted to the hybrid work model. Finding balance is easier in a flexible work arrangement. When employees have more control of their work schedules, they can free up time to take care of the things that crop up in their personal lives—whether it’s running an errand, picking up kids from day-care, or being home for a delivery.

2. Review your compensation and benefits.

Employees aren’t always looking for a higher salary (though that never hurts!).

If you are losing top talent to competitors, reflect on the competitiveness of your company’s total compensation package. Examine the benefits and perks you are offering beyond the base salary.

Examples include signing and other bonuses, increased base pay, decoupling of pay and location, and tuition reimbursement.

These strategies directly respond to market rates for labour and offer a quick return on investment for a role that must be filled immediately. They also provide a clear and tangible employer branding message.

3. Analyse your corporate culture

Employees want to feel like they are a part of an organisation that genuinely cares about them, the community they are in and the world at large. Think about the culture you have created to foster a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment with a greater purpose.

Where do we go from here (after The Great Resignation)?

People pursuing their passions and demanding better working conditions is a positive for employees and employers alike. Perhaps such demands are long overdue, as the norm of office work has been stagnant for quite some time.

As an employee, do not hesitate to voice out the struggles you are facing. There is nothing like a good conversation with your employer to iron out better alternatives.

If you are an employer, please know that people want to work, but they want to do so under different conditions. To quote Andy Warhol, “They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”