A poll of Singaporeans has revealed insights into why they are resigning from their current jobs, and where they believe the workplace is heading towards in the next few years. In short, it’s about a realisation that there is more to life than just work, and that they hope - and expect - employers to recognise that too.
The mass of people quitting their jobs worldwide has been labelled as The Great Resignation, and it represents the economic trend of employees leaving their jobs in large numbers. In Singapore, a study conducted by Mercer found that 69% of the companies surveyed by them had seen an increase in turnover in the first half of 2021 compared to the same period last year.
The natural question is of course, why is it happening? We conducted our own survey, asking our members in EGN Singapore what they thought was the cause for The Great Resignation.
The Great Reset - rebalancing work and life
One respondent called it the “Great Reset”, saying “People have realised that there’s more to life than their jobs”. When participants were asked, “What do you think is the cause behind the Great Resignation?”, just under half (45%) attributed it to employees rethinking or relooking at how they looked at work (they could give more than one reason). Another respondent summarised succinctly, saying “People don’t want to run a rat race any more”.
Unsurprisingly another often-cited reason was because of burnout or mental fatigue (23%), and for some it wasn’t just because of Covid. “Workload in Singapore and mental wellbeing has long been an issue, but the pandemic put it in the spotlight,” wrote one respondent. Interestingly, more than half the respondents (59%) said the pandemic was a catalyst that brought existing issues to the forefront.
Being disconnected from friends and colleagues also took its toll: “When the social element of work is greatly reduced, then there’s only the work left to be considered, and people may have a clearer view of why they are doing that in the first place.”
Other reasons given by participants include dissatisfaction with the work environment, such as long hours and low salaries (21%), while others felt that there wasn’t enough leadership at work, or working from home disconnected them from the office (20%).
Nevertheless, there was a segment that looked at things more optimistically, and felt that the pandemic created new opportunities or new jobs (19%), with one employer saying, “it’s an opportunity to hire fresh, motivated contributors”!
The need for a shift in priorities
As we move out into something approaching normality, there is a strong sense of optimism that there will be lessons learned and improvements made. Overall 62% of respondents had an optimistic view of the future, while just over a third (37%) said things would effectively not change or would eventually stabilise. None predicted a negative future.
Executives felt that going forward, it’s important to connect with employees and improve personal engagements (41%), and to improve the work environment and increase job satisfaction (23%). “People are now recognising what they are really worth and what they expect from their employers,” was one comment made.
“It’s heartening to see that people are beginning to appreciate the value of a healthy working environment and that human-to-human interaction is a fragile and valuable thing that needs to be deliberately nurtured,” said Nick Jonsson , Co-founder & MD at EGN Singapore & Indonesia. “It’s a new working world, we should build the best version of it.”
Thankfully, most respondents also believe that this awareness will create positive change. Slightly more than a third (37%) felt that it will result in better working conditions at the office, while others believed that employees would have better work/life balance (17%), and that there would be better mental health (16%).
It’s yet to be seen exactly how substantial this change will be, but perhaps there is a silver lining to the disruption that the entire world had to face and contend with. “Awakening experiences like a pandemic can cause a collective awareness of the need for a shift in priorities,” said one respondent. “As a cancer survivor, I have gone through this as an individual and made life changes as a result; I think the entire world is going through this collectively now.“