Article originally featured on Startups.co.uk and is available here.
New research suggests that August is the highest month for employee quittings, as the Great Resignation continues to hammer the UK workforce.
Employers should prepare for a surge in staff turnover rate this month, as new research reveals that August is the most popular time for employees to hand in their notice.
Recruitment agency Ambitions Personnel used government data from the previous two years to calculate the average percentage of yearly resignations each month. In total, their results represent the perspectives of over 75,000 UK workers.
Based on the findings, 11.61% of the year’s resignations take place in August. That means employees are almost twice as likely to quit their roles at the end of summer than in February (the month with the lowest number of resignations).
At this time of year, the business world slows down, as firms close up shop and workers take time off for the school holidays. Companies should take note of how this might impact employee engagement, and double down on efforts to make staff feel valued and happy in their roles.
Holiday mood could trigger resignation wave
There are lots of reasons why employees might be more likely to resign in August. Specific industries might have seasonal or temporary job opportunities that end during summer.
August is also associated with the beginning of a new academic year. Individuals accepted into higher education or professional courses may quit their jobs to focus on their studies full-time.
However, according to the Ambitions Personnel findings, October is the second most popular month behind August for employees to resign. In fact, August, September and Octoberaccount for over a third of all annual resignations.
Ambitions Personnel suggests people use the quieter period as a time of reflection, before offering their resignationafterusing their annual leave for summer vacations.
People may also be using their holiday entitlement to reassess their current situations, and begin ‘career cushioning’ – shopping around for a new opportunity or change to make before the end of the year.
Business owners might have expected to see January top the list. The beginning of the year sees many of us making New Year’s resolutions that might influence a change of career.
However, while the data does show a spike in resignations at the beginning of the year, this is still well behind August.
January is often a busy period for businesses. The Ambitions Personnel research perhaps indicates that employees return from the Christmas period to a mountainous post-holiday workload, making them too busy to think about searching for a new role.
This could also explain why February is statistically the month with the lowest number of employee quittings.
On average, just 6% of staff reportedly resign during this period, as the New Year blues sees workers swap out resignation letters for Valentine’s cards.
Uplift in quittings suggests Great Resignation will continue this quarter
The UK is currently in the midst of an employee engagement crisis. Research shows that 9 in 10 British workers report feeling unenthusiastic about their current job role.
The so-called ‘Great Resignation’ is a symptom of this crisis. Workers are switching career paths at record pace, on the hunt for a workplace with generous benefits and perks that can balance out their depleted bank balances.
Others are simply mentally quitting their jobs, engaging in new anti-work trends such as ‘quiet quitting’, and sharing tips about how to disguise their disconnect from managers on social media apps like TikTok.
Partly, this is down to financial troubles. The cost of living crisis has caused everyday costs such as energy bills, mortgage payments, and rent to surge. In answer, many firms have increased salaries, but the rises can’t compete with the rate of inflation, hitting payslips hard.
As a result, many employees are quiet quitting, and subtly throwing in the towel if they feel their personal beliefs do not align with the company’s corporate values. This is a practice that is all but guaranteed to lead to further resignations down the line.
How to stop staff from leaving this month
The good news for employers is that the problem of increased resignations is easy to diagnose. Treatment is more complex, but not impossible.
During periods of higher disengagement (like August), companies need to reflect on their recruitment and retention strategies to locate the opportunities for improvement.
It sounds expensive – but it doesn’t have to be. With a correct, people-centred approach, businesses can arrive at a solution that satisfies every party.
As a first step, employers should carry out an employee survey to check the temperature of the workforce. Don’t shy away from difficult conversations. Ask about staff morale, whether workers have plans to quit, and what would encourage them to stay if yes.
The results may surprise you. Research shows that employees care more about flexible working policies than pay, for example. This suggests that targeted support policies can be more effective than torpedoing your cash flow with a company-wide pay rise.
Companies can then use these insights to design a more economical benefits strategy with a long-term positive impact. It’s a far smarter solution than a short-term fix.
Commenting on the data, Mandy Watson, Director of Ambitions Personnel, said: “Being aware of the seasonal pattern of resignations, employers can use this knowledge to plan for potential staff turnover in the late summer and autumn months.
“However, by prioritising employee satisfaction and well-being, employers can create a positive work environment that retains top talent and drives business success all year round.”