The Big Quit: Employers warned of mass walkout of workers

Jobs advertisements slumped 5.5 per cent in December in a sign that business may have become wary of hiring as the Omicron variant took hold in Australia, according to ANZ.

Jan 05, 2022, updated Jan 05, 2022
Job satisfaction and burnout have been blamed for the wave of resignations

Job satisfaction and burnout have been blamed for the wave of resignations

But that is only part of the problem that is emerging in the Australian workforce.

The ANZ said its research showed that 5.3 per cent of the workforce in November intended to quit their job in 2022, the highest level recorded since the global financial crisis.

If that occurred as many as 580,000 people would change their jobs this year in a workforce of more than 11 million people.

The so-called great resignation or “the big quit” as it was dubbed in America, has already started in other countries and in the US more than 4 million quit their jobs in November in a trend that had started in April 2021.

Studies of the US experience also revealed that resignations were more prevalent in mid-career roles and in the healthcare and IT sectors.

The World Economic Forum said these trends highlighted the importance of understanding why people left and what could be done to prevent The Great Resignation.

ANZ senior economist Catherine Birch said the high level of people indicating they intended to switch jobs may have been a catch up from people who delayed quitting during the pandemic.

“But with so much competition for labour and workers feeling secure in their jobs, we should see more people moving to better jobs and asking for larger pay rises in 2022, contributing to stronger wages growth,” Birch said.

“We expect the job switching to pick up in 2022.”

The slump in job ads followed a revised 17.2 per cent increase in the previous two months as the lockdowns in Victoria and NSW were lifted and that led to a “remarkable” 366,100 new jobs in November.

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Birch said the slump in job ads may have been caused in part by the dramatic uptake in jobs in November.

“But it’s also possible that businesses have become more hesitant to hire due to the spread of Omicron and the consequent uncertainty around consumer behaviour and worker availability,” she said.

That would tally with other ANZ data showing a post-Boxing Day slowdown in spending across Australia.

Even with the December slump in job ads, the number was still 4.2 per cent above the pre-Delta lockdown peak in June 2021 and 36.8 per cent above the pre-Covid level.




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