Two Years Into COVID: The Great Resignation Isn’t Over, as Many Employees Are Still Considering Leaving

Workhuman’s latest research report explores employees’ feelings about the state of human connection at work, and how that contributes to their future employment plans

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. & DUBLIN–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#covid19–Two years ago, a global pandemic turned nearly every universal truth about work on its head, with many in-office industries shifting overnight to a work-from-home (WFH) model. In fact, according to Workhuman’s research report, Two Years into COVID: The State of Human Connection at Work, most industries, including those with traditionally on-site jobs, have adjusted work environments to include more remote work, either hybrid or fully WFH. But not everyone feels confident about the adjustment. Compared to on-site workers, fully remote workers were less likely to say they feel confident (20% vs. 27%) and more likely to feel uneasy about change (38% vs. 27%).

Workhuman’s research, based on findings from a survey of 2,268 full-time workers across the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Ireland, found that both hybrid and on-site workers do feel a stronger sense of connection to colleagues and to their company culture – thanks to at least some face-to-face interaction – than fully remote workers. This sense of connection (or lack thereof) likely feeds into how appreciated people feel. Overall, 60% of people say they feel somewhat or very appreciated for the work they do, which is surprising considering half (49%) of all workers said they had too much work to do over the past year.

This overworked, burned-out feeling has contributed to the Great Resignation, and it will continue. More than one-third (36%) of workers said they plan to look for a new job in the next 12 months, with millennials (aged 25-40) more likely than any other generation to look for a new job this year (47%). This isn’t just for those who have been at an organization for a long time. While COVID-era hires are still in their honeymoon phase, it’s tenuous, with 50% still saying they plan to look for a new job in the next 12 months. The report also found that employees hired during the pandemic experience higher levels of burnout, feel they are even more overworked, and are less psychologically safe than their more tenured colleagues.

“Organizations are scrambling to figure out how to mitigate the detrimental side effects that it and its employees are experiencing – burn out, disengagement, turnover, etc. – from nearly two years of consistent upheaval,” said Chris French, Executive Vice President at Workhuman. “The one easy fix that has a big impact – expressing appreciation – is no where near where it needs to be. It’s a proven fact that recognition has a positive effect on retention, engagement, productivity and so many more factors that can help a business improve its culture and its bottom line. Organizations need to lean into their ‘thank you’ muscles, or they’ll continue to say goodbye to their employees.”

When people do leave their organization, the negative ripple effect is undeniable. People who see turnover around them are more than twice as likely to be looking for a new job themselves (48% vs. 24%). Yet Workhuman’s research found that “a new job” doesn’t necessarily mean a completely new company. In fact, nearly two thirds of workers (62%) said they would return to a former employer – something known as boomerang employees – and this number only goes up for those who started a new job during COVID (69%).

Additional noteworthy data points from Workhuman’s research report include:

DEI is a major factor: When asked how important diversity, equity and inclusion were to an employee’s decision to stay at their company, 72% said it’s somewhat or very important. That number is even higher for Gen Z workers (86%) and Black, African, or Caribbean workers (87%).

Working parents are feeling the burden: Working parents, especially women and parents in Ireland, feel much more stressed than their non-parent colleagues. This might explain why parents are slightly more likely (+3 percentage points) to be looking for a new job this year, with 25% of those job seekers citing the primary reason is for better flexibility and work-life balance.

What is a sick day? More than half of hybrid workers (52%) and nearly half of remote workers (44%) said they feel obligated to work while sick when they’re working remotely.

The full research report, Two Years into COVID: The State of Human Connection at Work, can be found here. To learn more about how Workhuman’s human workplace solutions can improve retention, create greater belonging, and deepen engagement, please visit www.workhuman.com.

About Workhuman

Workhuman® is pioneering the human workplace through award-winning Social Recognition® and Continuous Performance Development solutions. Workhuman inspires more than six million humans across 180 countries to perform the best work of their lives. For the past 22 years, human resources and business leaders alike have used Workhuman Cloud® to gain the proactive insights necessary to transform and lead a more connected, human-centered workplace that accelerates engagement and productivity. To learn more about Workhuman’s mission to make work more human for every person on the planet and how you can ensure great work is celebrated and amplified in your workplace, visit www.workhuman.com.

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Jenna West

Global External Communications

Jenna.West@Workhuman.com