Changing Labour Markets - Resignation, Re-evaluation and Recruitment

Posted in : HR Updates on 26 July 2022
Hugh McPoland
Clarendon Executive
Issues covered: The Great Resignation; Recruitment; Labour Markets

While at school, I was constantly reminded of the importance of the three Rs, reading, writing and arithmetic (strange that only one of the great three began with the letter R). Nowadays, many businesses discuss at least one of the new three Business 3Rs, Resignation, Re-evaluation and Recruitment. If government statistics are to be believed, we have more people at work than before, but we also have more vacancies in organisations.

The great resignation came because of the Global Health Emergency. As we were restricted to our homes and the associated requirement to harness the benefits of technology, many were able to find new ways of managing workloads while leaving behind some of the drudgeries of commuting, getting to work and trying to get home with sufficient time to enjoy other aspects of our lives.

Once the joys of the lives we had left behind were rediscovered, many started to wonder about their lives, and this re-evaluation led many to leave their current employers and find more fulfilling ways to earn a living. This should have logically meant that they would have gone straight into the labour market to fill some of the vacancies that others had left or that companies had re-created as the economy started to grow post-pandemic. But no, there has been a much more fundamental change in attitude to work with many, particularly in the service and office-based sectors, deciding to become free independent service providers and not employees, giving them the flexibility to say no to working with companies or undertaking work that they would prefer not to do.

The reasons for that are well documented in that people regained control of their lives and wanted to align their work with their personal value base rather than some of the corporate values they have observed in their working lives. They can now balance their competing priorities by exercising their control rather than the corporate decision-makers, many of whom reverted quickly to the way things used to be rather than the new world we all discussed in the video meetings during lockdowns. Elon Musk’s recent pronunciations on a workplace are a good example. Many economists have also noted that the power balance between capital and labour has fundamentally shifted in the last two years.

So how can employers respond to this power shift in the labour market? In many ways, the answer is, as it has always been, in four main areas of good HR.

  • Purpose
  • Remuneration
  • Empowerment
  • Culture and Communication


Organisations which can connect their business purposes of serving customers, creating wealth and return for shareholders to the self-actualisation need of the employees in achieving a minimum good life while ensuring a positive contribution to society should be able to weather the storm of the current shift in dynamics in the labour market. The more we can create commonalities in the perspectives of purpose, the higher the employee experience will be, and the more likely people will come and stay.


Those who are grounded in Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs will recognise that good remuneration and flexible employee packages will be important in differentiating themselves from their competitors.

The results of the Oracle report sets out that compensation and benefits are key to improving work experience. Cafeteria Benefits as a concept appear to have disappeared from our discourse now but perhaps as we move to compete with an energised workforce which knows what it wants then we need as organisations to be more flexible and imaginative in how we structure the available compensation and benefits packages.

While younger staff may not have a particular interest in gold plated pension schemes and focus on other benefits which add value to their lives in the here and now, many organisations are already providing financial advice services to their workforce and perhaps part of the pre-induction process is to make independent financial services accessible to ensure employees optimise their choices in agreeing their compensation package.


Recent studies by Oracle show that HR and workforces see the impact of empowerment on employee experience on workforce engagement differently,

However, both agree that empowerment was the most lowly rated indicator of a good employee experience, suggesting this is indeed an issue to be addressed"

Culture and Communications

Throughout my working life, excellent workplace communications has been the Holy Grail. HR professionals strive to ensure managers communicate while employees believe that not all is being told. Good communications will enable the connection to organisational purpose and employee self-actualisation to grow and strengthen. Most importantly, however, is that communication must be a two-way process. There is a need for organisations and HR specialists to listen and quickly respond openly and transparently to the issues raised by staff, be it through surveys, focus groups or designated communications fora.

So, while the economy is in a turbulent time and the labour market is likely to be demanding, a clear focus on what we know to be good HR practices will help us survive.  

This article is correct at 26/07/2022

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Hugh McPoland
Clarendon Executive

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