Has the “Great Resignation” reached Europe as well?

Delia Pușcă

10 minutes read

The Great Resignation in Europe

June 2021 – 4 million resignations in the United States. A month later, another 4 million resignations. August, September, October, nothing new, no change. The trend is still on the rise, after the first post-COVID-19 relaxations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In Romania, another study, the same scenario, not so optimistic at all. One in three employees plan to change the jobs in 2022. A survey made by Genesis Property highlights some of the reasons that seem to be related to the office and the way companies work. And this is just one of the indications of the so-called Great Resignation phenomenon. Truly should the figures that have been around the world lately be so worrying or relevant enough? Can global conclusions already be drawn? Can forecasts be made in the labor market? One thing is certain – the pandemic has changed work systems, redefined employee expectations, and radically changed the employer-employee dynamic.

Burnout syndrome has been talked about many times, as a result of the pandemic and the more visible stressors in the last two years. The biggest exhaustion was in the health system, medial staff who gave up due to fatigue and working conditions. So it could be another component of the global wave of resignations, right? Due to the missing of even more data and specific groups of people, the phenomenon of the Great Resignation can gain even more value, beyond the health crises, or the ambitions of Millennials and Z generations.

The same survey mentioned above, conducted by Genesis Property, strengthens the high expectations of human resources. Just over half of Romania’s employees are betting on a radical transformation of the company’s offices this year, and most of them want to see both an improvement in terms of sanitary systems (61.5%) and specially created interior spaces to stimulate the well-being (47.5%) and safe collaboration of the teams (37.8%).

In a constantly changing economy, it may not be clear whether the pandemic is the cause of the wave of resignations or not. A recent BBC article takes us to a comparative approach, a historical parallel between the Great Recession of 2009 – once the economy has consolidated over the next decade, resignation rates have also risen.

I briefly analyzed the document issued by the European Commission “Great Lockdown versus Great Recession“. And I found both regularities, similarities, and many differences. For example, the shock associated with the recession has been due to the stress of the economy as a whole, especially in high-income countries, while the effects of the Lockdowns have been carried out outside the global economic system. However, both crises have led to similar impacts on economies around the world, with significant contractions in growth and employment.

The findings of the study show that the common elements of the two crises are highlighted by sharp declines in economic activity, combined with equally strong increases in unemployment. In the Great Recession of 2009, there were significant differences in Gross Domestic Product, largely limited to high and middle-income countries, while many low-income countries saw only slight declines in revenue growth. Paradoxically, this contrasts with the effects of the current crisis. According to a 2020 IMF World Economic Outlook report, the effects of the COVID-19 crisis have hit the GDPs of high-income countries.

USA vs. Europe

“In the European Union, labor market institutions, along with trade union and employer negotiations, as well as demonstrations and strikes, can be used to express dissatisfaction. At the same time, EU entities are strong and reduce their chances of seeing something similar to the Great Dismissal here in the EU”, said Elvira Gonzalez, an expert on the labor market and employment policy at the European Center of Expertise.

The unemployment rate among European countries

In Germany, the largest economic power in Europe, the unemployment rate was, in autumn, at its lowest since the beginning of the pandemic – 5.5%.

In France, the unemployment rate remained almost stable in the third quarter of the year (+0.1 points compared to the previous quarter), reaching 8.1% of the active population in France, according to figures published in November by the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies.

The Member States with the lowest unemployment rates are the Czech Republic (2.6%), the Netherlands (3.1%), and Malta (3.2%). On the other hand, Spain (14.6%) and Greece (13.3%) have the highest unemployment rates in the EU.

With an unemployment rate of 5% in September, down from a rate of 5.2% in August, Romania is among the Member States with the lowest unemployment rate in the EU.

Eurostat estimates that 14.32 million people were unemployed in the EU in October, of which 12.07 million were in eurozone countries.

“Those who resign voluntarily do so for a variety of reasons, and their resignations tell a whole different story”, said Martha Maznevski, a professor of organizational behavior at Ivey Business School at Western University in Ontario, Canada. Some choose between “good” and “better”, others, choose between survival and toxic environments. Salaries are no longer the only motivation of employees. Nowadays, the need to capitalize on their potential, to have their achievements recognized and appreciated, and to be part of a healthy culture has become a must. The list could go with the need for esteem, the need for recognition, and respect for the status of an employee in an organization where responsibility and autonomy at work are part of internal values and principles.

In order to avoid resignation, the success of a strategy to improve employee motivation depends, in particular, on the clarity with which the problems are diagnosed.

And you? What category are you in? Have you thought about changing something in your professional life in 2022?

Subscribe to our newsletter

By subscribing to the newsletter you agree with the privacy policy.

Written by Delia Pușcă


Journalist by profession for over 10 years, but converted to public relations and human resources. I appreciate good manners and the art of communication in all its forms. I consider that elegance in behavior is the most precious prerogative, a principle according to which I guide my entire activity.

Be the first one to comment

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *