By Silke Rathbone, Principal Partner, LabourExcel


Much like the Great Depression, the Great Resignation has been a hard pill to swallow, mostly for employers.

What is this GREAT RESIGNATION all about?

In essence, given the last 18-20 months everyone has had to endure, you would think that the last thing on an employed person’s mind would be to resign. However, with companies struggling to make ends meet and hold on to their staff, employees feel somewhat nervous about their job security. So, why would they resign then?

With their job security under risk came, for many, longer working hours with no boundaries (even lower incomes paid), feeling overworked and often spiralling into a world of despair and depression. And, with that came many employees downing tools or jumping ship in search of better working environments.

Employees have started to question their job conditions and decide that there is more to life than money or job security. Many of these that fit into the Great Resignation have had other skills to fall back on, some going to pursue life-long dreams, changing careers altogether, and some looking to spend more time with family.

Words such as “toxic”, “reaching breaking point”, and “burnout” have been rife over the last few months, but never more so in the previous quarter, and this is not just a global trend.  South Africa is also starting to see the turn of tides on this front.

What does this mean for employers?

It means, now more than ever, employers need to start a campaign in retention, and not only because it costs more to replace employees than to retain them because the mind shift that has started could have further-reaching implications.

Ask yourself what employees have been doing and thinking about whilst they were in lockdown, many still working? They were thinking, the majority at least, that they can actually work from home and still get paid, that they can do their job just as well and not have to travel in traffic, spend money outside of their home, and in the end, save money. They think they can be in charge of their destiny and environment.

Many have even considered starting up their businesses, often competing with their current employers. Employers need to consider introducing the hybrid model of employment and working.

“The hybrid model offers benefits for employees, employers and the environment alike. Workers are free to base themselves at home or a flex-space closer to home so that they can lock in the work-life balance benefits they found during periods of lockdown. The reduction in commuting cuts companies’ carbon footprints and supports environmental goals while empowering people to choose where they work maintains – and can even improve – productivity”, says Joanne Bushell, MD of IWG, South Africa

Considering a permanent ‘hybrid’ way of working will mean making some significant changes, but in the end, these big changes can have more positive results long-term. If you have not addressed or even considered that employees’ mindsets are changing with how they view work, you will surely be on the back step going forward.  Sure, this COVID-19 pandemic will pass – a few months – a few years maybe – but it will pass. So, for now, future-proof your business by putting plans in place to retain your staff and consider the hybrid way.


 LabourExcel specialises in offering a variety of Labour Law and HR Solutions.  Silke Rathbone, one of the Principal Partners, has crafted and honed her skillset and assists corporates and individuals along the Labour journey to ensure they understand what is required of them at all levels.


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