The ‘Great Resignation’ in 2021 saw workers voluntarily quit their jobs at historic rates and, according to new research from specialist independent consultancy Barnett Waddingham, very few UK businesses escaped unscathed.

Just 15 percent of senior decision makers at UK businesses said that the great resignation had not affected them.

Of the 85 percent affected, almost a third (32%) said they’d seen negative impacts on employee wellbeing as a result.

Also, 31 percent had seen team burnout, and 20% percent said it had led to unreasonable employee workloads.

The phenomenon has also impacted the ability of employers to recruit and retain staff.

A large 32 percent said they’d struggled to attract new talent as a direct result of the Great Resignation, and 31 percent had trouble retaining their staff.


Hybrid working

As well as delving into the impact on businesses, Barnett Waddingham sought to understand the reasons behind the phenomenon. In its survey of employees last year, the results indicated that one in every three workers (32%) were willing to resign from their job should their employer not agree to their choice of hybrid working arrangement. Now, in its survey of senior decision makers, it appears that has borne out.

A massive 59 percent of businesses attribute employee dissatisfaction with the organisation’s flexible or hybrid working policy as one of the main reasons for resignations over the last year; just 23 percent said it was not. Making up the 59 percent ‘yes’s, 28 percent had confirmed that fact via exit interviews, whilst 31% relied on anecdotes.

So how widespread has the shift to hybrid working been as a result? According to the research, very. 84 percent of businesses have embraced a hybrid working model. Not all of these are Covid-induced though.

Also, 21 percent have always had a hybrid working model, and 22 percent had introduced one before the pandemic. More than a quarter of businesses (27%) introduced one post-Covid, and 13 percent are currently trialling one.

Some companies have not shifted to a hybrid working model, for a variety of reasons.

Also, 3 percent of all firms said they’d trialled it, but it hadn’t worked for them, and 6 percent said it was not applicable for anyone in their organisation. A further 5 percent said they were considering it for the future.

David Collington, Principal at Barnett Waddingham, comments: “In the wake of the biggest shake up of workplace norms since the industrial revolution, organisations are scrabbling to keep up with the speed of change. Control has shifted from the employer to the employee, and with that businesses have had to step up their game at every stage of the lifecycle, from attraction and recruitment through to retention. Beer fridges and ping pong are not enough; the most effective businesses are making real structural changes to try to win the race for talent.

“In the eyes of many employees, hybrid working has moved from a luxury to a bare minimum. For C-suites and HR departments, effort now needs to be focused on making hybrid working work for all; balancing team cohesion and training with flexibility and freedom. Crucially, if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. Businesses need to be tracking employee sentiment and beliefs before they can deliver effective change.”






Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.