The big resignation, a global phenomenon?

The Great Resignation reflects a profound change in employee expectations. How are French companies meeting the challenge?
Is France also experiencing an episode of great resignation?
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The United States is being hit by a tidal wave of resignations, the growing magnitude of which is undoubtedly linked to the Covid pandemic. Called "The Great Resignation", this phenomenon reflects a shift in the labor market that companies must manage through effective and relevant HR transformation strategies. Like the health crisis, is this phenomenon spreading to the rest of the world? How can we assess it and what actions should we take? Answers in this article!

The situation abroad

The US has seen an unprecedented number of resignations since the beginning of the pandemic, with a clear acceleration in 2021. This phenomenon of "The Great Resignation", which has gone viral on social networks, began in July 2021 and continues to grow, causing increasing concern among economists. According to a study published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 4.5 million Americans left their jobs in November 2021, more than twice as many as before the pandemic (about 2 million per month in 2018).

The reasons given for resignation are varied and differ according to socio-professional category.

The pandemic was the trigger for many employees who, affected by the bleak health situation, decided to review their priorities. Taking care of their families, enjoying more flexibility, increasing their income or benefits, and advancing professionally are some of the reasons why many Americans have decided to leave their jobs.

Finally, some employees have also decided to postpone their resignations until the year after Covid's arrival, impacting the 2021 numbers accordingly.

Employment trends in France

The phenomenon of "The Great Resignation", which first appeared in the United States, is beginning to alarm organizations in Europe, particularly in the UK and France.

To date, there are no figures to quantify the number of resignations since the beginning of the health crisis as precisely as in the United States. However, Dares notes an increase in resignations from open-ended positions since mid-2021 (+19.4% between July 2019 and July 2021 according to the November 3, 2021 Dares publication) and an increase in contractual terminations. This increase particularly affects positions that were previously on short-time work.

What are the signals to follow to anticipate this transformation?

While not reaching levels equivalent to those across the Atlantic, it is clear that there are indications that this phenomenon could also affect France. To address this situation, HR managers and executives can rely on various internal and external indicators to better anticipate this HR transformation.

In addition to the acceleration of resignations and contractual terminations, a labor shortage is also being observed in several sectors.

The hotel industry, construction, restaurants, services, paramedical services, cleaning and leisure activities are all sectors affected by recruitment difficulties. Strikes have also been reported in large retail chains. Finally, this wave of departures also concerns management positions.

In order to carry out this change management process, it is therefore in the interest of companies to take stock of the current working conditions within their organizations at the individual level: job satisfaction, stress management, work/life balance, telecommuting arrangements, etc.

How can companies prepare for these departures?

Depending on the results observed, several actions can be taken to limit or avoid these departures, at the individual and organizational levels.

Employee retention must continue to be an integral part of a company's HR strategy. Talent retention is achieved through :

  • Efficient management of skills : mobility, training, VAE, ...
  • Valuing employees through levers other than compensation
  • A modern work organization: flexibility, autonomy, accountability, ...

At the same time, establishing a succession plan allows executives and managers to be less vulnerable to changes in the labor market. Thanks to the knowledge of the current skills available and future developments, they can set up this HR device allowing to match resources and needs.

But above all, human resources managers must accompany their employees towards this transformation and these new conceptions of work through specialized training in change management strategies.