The United States is caught up in an en masse departure fiasco. In April 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded the largest spike to date in the total number of people who quit their jobs, with just under 4 million US workers saying sayonara to their respective employers. In May, that number decreased slightly (3.6 million), but still remained much higher than its 2020 counterpart (2.2 million).
In all likelihood, 2021 will record the largest number of resignations the United States has ever seen.
Some sectors stand out, such as retail trade and accommodation and food services — but the departures are happening across the board. Industries such as arts and entertainment, construction, manufacturing and education have all nearly doubled in their quit levels compared to last year. In all likelihood, 2021 will record the largest number of resignations the United States has ever seen.
’41% plans to quit’
In 2020, Microsoft surveyed more than 30,000 workers worldwide, in an attempt to find out what the consensus was among them. It painted a picture of a largely disjointed, unmotivated workforce — and one wherein 41% considered either quitting or changing professions altogether. Meanwhile, five percent more (46%) is said to ‘make a major pivot or career transition’.
Will Europe suffer similar fate?
The Europe-US relationship has always been a tricky one. In many ways, one will always be a couple of years behind the other one. Whether in the adoption of new science, tech — or discussions about work. The discussions of who is running behind who will likely continue to exist for as long as we all live. But as the US goes through its own tsunami of quits, the question does beckon: will Europe follow in its footsteps, and suffer a similar fate?
“When you compare the labour markets — the UK is the one European country that is most similar to the US.”
Bas van de Haterd, renowned tech, recruitment and labour market expert based in the Netherlands, reckons the UK may be the one country where the great resignation will be felt most. “When you compare the labour markets — the UK is the one European country that is most similar to the US. Even though it has much better social services”, he says.
Wim Davidse, another renowned European expert about all things flex, HR and work, thinks Europe will see some commotion, but nothing as large-scale as in the United States. “The past few months, recruiters have complained en masse about the lack of candidates for vacancies”, he says. “But what always happens toward the end of a recession — people aren’t quite ready to make the leap. But as the light slowly turns green, more job changes are going to take place.”
“In the US, they’re now finally getting used to something resembling a social safety net.”
Meanwhile, Van de Haterd sees two major reasons for why Europe might not follow in the US’ footsteps. “A permanent contract still has some value in Europe, while in the US, indefinite contracts are generally worthless — so the leap isn’t quite as big”, he says. “And in the US, they’re now finally getting used to something resembling a social safety net. A safety net we’ve had for a long time in Europe.”
“A Great Resignation would seem very un-European to me.”
Personio recently conducted a study among Dutch workers which had ‘US-like results’, wherein it found that 46% of those surveyed planned to quit in the next six months to a year — five percent higher than the global percentage. “We all know, though, that expressed intentions aren’t quite the same as the actual act of quitting”, Davidse adds. “I do expect to see a larger increase of people quitting than what we’re used to, mainly due to a COVID and Zoom-related tiredness, managers that have been found out — but a Great Resignation would seem very un-European to me.”