The ‘resignation equation’: 5 factors that drive employees to quit

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This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Helen Nugent, Senior Writer, Formative Content


  • A fifth of workers say they are extremely or very likely to quit their jobs in 2022, according to a new global PwC survey.
  • This trend is being driven by 5 key factors, which PwC calls the ‘resignation equation’.
  • These factors include people not finding a job fulfilling, not feeling they can be their true selves at work and not feeling that their team cares about them.
  • Companies need to ‘tailor their workforce strategy to the unique needs of their workers’ to attract and retain staff, PwC says.

The term “Great Resignation” emerged in May 2021, after it became clear that record numbers of people were leaving their jobs during the pandemic. More than a year later the phenomenon shows no sign of stopping, and consultancy PwC says it can be explained by the “resignation equation”.

The company’s latest Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey finds that one in five people around the world plan to resign this year. It spoke to more than 52,000 people across 44 countries for the survey, making it one of the largest of its kind, and uncovered what it thinks are the key reasons employees quit.

The resignation equation

Workers who describe themselves as “extremely or very likely to look for another job” have five things in common, and these factors add up to make the resignation equation, PwC says.

These employees are less likely than others to:

  • Find a job fulfilling
  • Feel they can be their true self at work
  • Feel fairly rewarded financially
  • Feel their team cares about them
  • Feel that their manager listens to them

When taking all workers into account – including those who say they are likely to leave and those who are not looking to do so – salary comes out as the main reason people might look to resign, but only just. About 71% said it was a big factor, closely followed by the 69% citing job fulfilment.

The ability to choose when and where to work ranked much lower, with no more than half of people saying it was a driver behind their desire to change roles.

Millions still want to quit their jobs

Many other studies back these findings up, including recent research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. It found that more than 6.5 million people in the UK are expected to leave their job in the next year, with the main reason being pay and benefits.

The next biggest reasons are wanting more job satisfaction and a better work-life balance.

Meanwhile, “knowledge workers” – those whose job involves handling or using knowledge and information, such as engineers, lawyers or journalists – are most bothered about stress and feeling unappreciated, according to research by Chicago-based financial firm Paro.

Respondents to this survey said they value work-life balance more than their salary. Just under 40% named work-life balance as the most important element of their job, while 28% ranked pay top.

Are employers listening to workers?

All of this means employers need to change to survive. Especially with predictions of a recession on the way, the pandemic by no means over and the cost-of-living crisis tightening its grip.

The PwC survey says that companies “must tailor their workforce strategy to the unique needs of their workers” to attract and retain staff.

It suggests:

  • Gathering data on employee sentiment
  • Creating the right environment for employees to address social and political issues
  • Committing to pay transparency
  • Focusing on inclusion
  • Investing in leadership development
  • Communicating their approach to keeping staff happy

Initiatives for forward-thinking companies looking to build a healthy, resilient and equitable future of work include the Good Work Alliance – a global, cross-industry project that is part of the World Economic Forum’s Centre for the New Economy and Society.

It looks to enhance job quality through five objectives, including promoting fair pay, providing flexibility and ensuring employee health and well-being.

If things don’t change, we can expect resignation records to keep getting broken.

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