There’s no one simple answer. It is rarely one event or factor that drives a resignation. More commonly it is an accumulation of things – including a sense that perhaps you’ve stayed in one place too long. At Chiumento’s latest webinar on understanding why people leave organisations, I was asked “how have the reasons for resignations changed since COVID?”

My sense is they’ve changed in a number of ways. I summarised some of those as follows:-

  • In a time of economic uncertainty, like COVID, people tend to re-focus their career strategy towards keeping the job they have – rather than looking elsewhere. So attrition rates go down. The problem is the desire for change doesn’t go away. It is simply suppressed. When the perceived threat goes away it typically unleashes a backlog of pent-up demand. We’re seeing that come through in terms of people saying “it was time to move on”.
  • For many, COVID unlocked Pandora’s box of home and/or hybrid working. A lot of us like it. Some employers are trying to get everyone back in the office and many employees don’t want that – at least not full-time. They’ve got used to the extra work-life benefits of being at home – not least cutting out the commute. So we are seeing people increasingly talk about moving jobs to get more flexibility. Of course, the inverse is true too. People who have really missed the office but have been told that’s yesterday’s world.
  • Many gained financially from not having to travel to work during COVID. Combine suddenly having to find the cash for that season ticket (or fuel) again and the soaring cost of living and you have a perfect storm of financial squeeze. I sense people are thinking much harder about the cost and convenience of travel to work. Rail strikes in recent weeks add another dimension.
  • Money is now in sharp focus. We are all feeling the post-COVID squeeze on our incomes due to inflation. For some of us that means cutting back on some “nice to haves” – for others it becomes the stress of simply making ends meet pay day to pay day. People will be leaving jobs because they literally can’t afford to stay. In a job market where some research suggests people are typically getting at least 8-12% pay rises for moving it’s easy to see the temptation to get a quick fix.
  • Many organisations are emerging in a different place. The culture and working practices may have changed. Some organisations will have handled the whole employee experience of COVID better than others. As a result, some people will have fallen out of love with their employer. Once that emotional attachment has gone it is so much easier to say goodbye.

These are just some of the trends we are seeing. We’ll explain more in future webinars as we keep our clients and contacts updated on an ever-changing landscape.

One thing we can be sure of is that retention is going to be a big issue for some time to come. A potential client asked me recently “how can we hire better?” In typical fashion I reversed the question: “how can you reduce the number of people you have to hire?” Reducing demand is just as important as increasing supply in a tough job market.

Do you know why your staff are leaving? We’ve been working with a number of clients looking to improve and/or outsource their exit interview process. We are happy to share what we’ve learned and offer some ideas. Just drop a note to or give us a call on +44 20 7224 3307.