Is there a resignation epidemic? | UK Recruitment News

Employee retention comes under the microscope – but recruiters could stand to capitalise.

First we had the lockdowns and furloughs. Then we had the ‘pingdemic’ of absentee workers. Could Britain’s beleaguered jobs market now be contending with a resignation epidemic, too? Reports find that more Brits have either quit their jobs – or are contemplating resigning – than ever before. And commentators have suggested that it was the months of introspection and personal reflection during lockdowns which have helped Brits to re-evaluate their careers.

One source states that almost one in twenty (4.7%) of the UK workforce has resigned in the wake of COVID.

The reason? First-hand experience of a better way of working appears to be the answer. The overwhelming majority (65%) of those who quit cited an improvement to work-life balance as their reason for leaving.

Almost two-thirds (60%) of resignees listed freedom to choose where to work as their primary motivator in their decision. Almost the same number (59%) also listed when to work as a contributing factor. It seems that workplace flexibility is here to stay> And businesses that are unwilling to match this demand are likely to feel the brunt of the redundancies.

Strategies for Employee retention

Employee retention is costly. It may mean greater investment in training or facilities. Perhaps it means KPI adjustments or salary reviews. However, poor retention is far more costly – as the expense of hiring continues to rise.

But what are the key push factors for workers – and how can businesses adapt to become better places of work?

• Better Onboarding

Employee retention begins on – or before – day one. Every employer needs a sound onboarding programme to set the best impression for new team members. Think about the key requirements heading into a new role. Are your duties clearly defined? Is the company hierarchy and chain of accountability clear or incomprehensible? Do new hires have a road map of their career progress set out ahead of them? Indistinct planning in these key areas can leave new talent feeling like outsiders and they may be looking for the exit door from their first moment.

• Reward hard work

Hard work and achievement should always pay. Set goals that motivate your team and acknowledge successes when they come. Disparate factors fall under this heading. Communicate well. Set fair pay and incentives. Provide feedback and mentorship. Each of these factors could have had a separate heading in their own right. But, at the end of the day, the reason why each is so vital is because they afford your staff the motivation to continue.


There’s no getting away from the fact that many, many people found working from home a revelation. The lack of a daily commute. The freedom to fit professional duties around personal obligations. The peace and quiet and the reduced costs of working. There are many reasons why some prefer working from home over an office-based day. Firms which can afford their workers this option may hold on to their existing teams after our ‘return to normality’.

• Don’t punish success

Nothing will lose staff loyalty like penalising hard work. By this, we mean moving performance benchmarks, preventing staff from benefiting from successes, or mishandling bonuses. Imagine a salesroom environment. Consistently moving the KPI benchmark to track that month’s top seller is punishing success. Setting a “new high score” shouldn’t raise the bar on what is considered normal performance.

If a key developer finishes their duties ahead of schedule, consider awarding their full estimated cost, thereby affording them time to improve their skills or practice without feeling that they need to “work slower to earn more”.

Recruiters poised to capitalise

Of course, this means there are ample opportunities for recruiters to capitalise. A spate of resignations could hand agencies both an increase in job orders and quality candidates. This is the ideal scenario.

There are currently 527,847 open vacancies on the eBoss Jobfeed system. That is a marked reduction of the more than one million vacancies being advertised just a few months ago. But it remains a huge opportunity for recruiters eager to make money and willing to expand into new areas.

As those resignees return to the job market, they bring with them a wealth of skills and talent. This could, as a consequence, provide incredibly fertile opportunities for agencies in the coming weeks and months.