Great Resignation becomes Great Regret as workers long for their pre-Covid jobs

Commuters walk along a platform, during a rail workers strike, at London Waterloo railway station in London, UK, on Thursday, March 16, 2023. Services into the capital will be restricted as workers across 18 companies represented by the RMT union walk out over pay dispute. Photographer: Chris J. Ratcliffe/Bloomberg - Chris J. Ratcliffe/BloombergMost office workers who quit their jobs during the pandemic now regret the decision, with almost three quarters pining for their pre-Covid roles.

A survey of 3,000 white collar workers who moved jobs during the pandemic found that 71pc wanted to return to their pre-pandemic employer.

The finding suggests that the so-called Great Resignation is now leading to a Great Regret, according to recruiter Robert Walters, which conducted the research.

Thousands of workers began quitting their jobs in early 2021 amid dissatisfaction over pay and working conditions during Covid lockdowns.

This trend, dubbed the Great Resignation, continued into 2022 as a tight labour market pushed up wages.

The survey of office workers who moved jobs during this period found that 45pc did so for better pay. A further 35pc quit for a better workplace culture or more purpose and fulfilment in their role.

Many are now regretting this move as working life returns to normal and the cost-of-living crisis puts a strain on household budgets.

A third of office workers said the cost-of-living crisis had changed how they feel about their current job.

Just under a quarter said they were tired of hybrid working, suggesting that many people are longing for a return to the office.

Robert Walters found workers are increasingly frustrated at slow responses from colleagues and lack of face time with managers when working remotely. Meanwhile, initial savings made from skipping the commute are now being wiped out by high energy bills.

Almost half of professionals admitted that their current employer was no longer meeting their needs.

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister) Jeremy Hunt walks in Downing Street in London, Britain, November 17, 2022. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo - TOBY MELVILLEToby Fowlston, chief executive of Robert Walters, said: “Across 2021 we saw record pay rises offered to professionals, with promises of an uber flexible and hybrid culture.

“Come 2023, and these pay rises now pale in comparison to the rising cost of living and inflation – with those new starters who were offered inflated salaries being much less likely to have received a pay increase this year.

“It appears that workers are realising that the grass may not have been greener after all.”

More than four in five workers admitted to keeping in touch with their former managers, with almost a third stating that this was for the primary purpose of keeping the door open for future job opportunities

Dissatisfaction in the workplace sparked a new trend dubbed “quiet quitting” last year. The phrase captured the idea of putting in the minimum effort required at work.

However, rounds of deep lay-offs in the tech sector and warnings of looming recessions appear to have ended this trend.

A recent survey by LinkedIn found workers were “career committing” by taking on new projects and networking more.

Robert Walters’ survey only looked at workers who switched jobs during the pandemic, rather than those who dropped out of the labour market altogether.

A wave of early retirement has been partly blamed for leaving Britain’s workforce smaller than its pre-pandemic size and holding back growth.

Unveiling his Budget last month, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt pledged to get more people back to work in an effort to rekindle the economy.
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