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The Great Resignation – myth or fact

The phrase, “The Great Resignation”, is making waves in the United States with many employees leaving their roles due to COVID-19. We spoke to three recruitment specialists from New Zealand and Australia about their thoughts on this phenomenon and its approach to our shores.

Who are they and where are they from? Here’s a quick rundown:

Eugene Ng is the proud director of H2R Consulting. Established in 2004, the Kiwi owned company provides executive recruitment, professional contracting and temp services to public, private and not for profit organisations.

Roxanne Calder from EST10 is the brains behind the boutique recruitment agency offering personal, concierge-style and unique recruitment service for businesses.

Clare McCartin is the talented managing partner, search and advisory at Davidson, which offers a broad range of specialists in business advisory, search and recruitment, and technology consulting

Together they give their insights on the current trend and tips on how to ride the potential rush with confidence.

Will The Great Resignation phenomenon currently playing out in the US hit Australia and New Zealand or has the exodus already begun?

“New Zealand is already experiencing this trend,” Eugene said. “Many young people who had delayed their overseas adventure, gearing up to depart New Zealand within the next six to 12 months. “In Auckland and Wellington, we’ve seen several organisations under pressure to deliver results in a COVID world. Many employees are seeking a renewed set of purpose and energy while those who are fully vaccinated, may seek new opportunities offshore,” he said.

His views were echoed by Roxanne. “The Great Resignation has been well underway in Australia well before COVID,” she said. While she doesn’t think the trend will hit Australia, the country could see some “reshuffling” in this space. “With the increased demand for people, low supply and increasing salaries, it could play a large part for people changing jobs. In our most recent survey, we found loyalty towards business and job security are still very important for people,” she said.

On the contrary, the focus should not be on The Great Resignation but instead the Hiring Tsunami that’s about to hit Australian shores Clare explained. “It’s well documented that companies will reportedly see an increase in turnover, particularly as we move into the earlier part of 2022 and see a greater incidence of ‘new year, new job’ mentality. But running parallel to this are the intensified hiring targets on the horizon,” she said.

What are the underlying trends impacting resignation rates and how can recruiters and the staffing industry attract new jobseekers looking for a change during this time?

Flexibility, development, leadership, a new challenge and wellbeing are all reasons why candidates are looking to move Eugene highlighted. “Recruiters should look at this as an opportunity to share market intelligence with clients, offering them a window into candidates’ minds of how they are feeling and what they are looking for in their next role. Also, they need to understand their candidates’ motivations for moving, what is important to them and be able to give insight into the organisations they are recruiting for,” he said.

“Recruiters need to engage more,” Roxanne suggested. “We need to encourage recruiters to talk and network.” She believes engagement, a feeling of contribution, learning and growth – both personal and professional, are what people are desiring from their jobs and employers. “A recent survey we conducted showed work culture was no longer in the top three most important aspects of people’s workplaces. By encouraging recruiters to interact more, it ensures they are representing jobs that fit the above value proposition. Educating clients of the change in workforce expectations and how to meet these needs are equally important, as this will signify better job opportunities to match job seeker needs,” she said.

When hiring in a tight labour market, Clare recommends identifying key impact players. "Simultaneously, you can keep the top impact players, already in the team, engaged. I would even throw a third challenge into the mix – aim to get the current top impact players in your team to bring their peers, who are most likely impact players, into your organisation as a peer referral. Liz Wiseman, author of Impact Players by The Growth Faculty says ‘impact players have a multiplying effect equivalent to three to 30 people in your office’. Yes you read that correctly. An impact player is the one in your team who will have the value of three to 30 people in your office,” she said.

Is the Great Resignation the Great Opportunity for recruiters? How does being in a candidate’s market, rather than an employer’s market, change things for recruiters?

The situation is a catch 22, according to Eugene. “Today’s market is a great opportunity for recruiters who are strong at delivering for both their clients and candidates, however a risk for recruiters could be taking on too much work and being unable to deliver a high standard consistently. In some cases, it may be jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire,” he said.

“Talented recruiters are abstract thinkers and great recruiters have always uncovered talent,” Roxanne expressed. “In handling today’s market of reduced and hard to find talent, the skill needs to be in peeling back the layers to discover the potential in people. Resume matching to job descriptions or square peg to square hole is long gone. The intelligence and talent in the role of a recruiter today, is to see what others are not capable of seeing - potential.

Clare agreed. “The Great Resignation is a great opportunity for recruiters. Over the past 18 months organisations and leaders across the globe have been reflecting on their organisation’s growth strategies, transformation and strategic plans to ensure their businesses are not only resilient to further disruptions, but also are leading the charge in their sector. A recent Gartner survey found that 60 per cent of CEOs expect their firm’s revenue to be back to 2019 levels by the end of 2021, and another 30 per cent expect resurgence by 2022. Only 10 per cent think they will need longer to recover. More than half of respondents are backing up that optimism by naming growth as a top three business priority. This level of confidence places the spotlight well and truly on recruiters,” she said.

What are the top three things that recruiters and the staffing industry can do to ensure they come out on top during the Great Resignation?


  • Ensure your clients are focused on their people, development, wellbeing, flexibility and have a strong Employee Value Proposition.  A good recruiter will highlight this as a selling point as part of the recruitment process.

  • Demonstrate your value through your knowledge of the market. Ask difficult questions of your clients, demonstrate your credibility as a specialist in the area you recruit and how you plan to assist them with the challenges they are facing to recruit and retain talent.

  • Educate your clients and get them to think differently when hiring – focus on spotting potential capability and learning agility not just tenure or time in role. Widen the talent pool by asking, ‘can this role be done remotely or in the regions, rather than in the CBD?’


  • Be continually in touch with candidates, speaking and listening to understand their needs.

  • Fully understand the job brief from all angles, the unwritten job briefs as well and the cultural and personal deal-breakers to ensure accurate and good matching. And then keep close to all your placements, both the client and candidates.

  • Have strong client and candidate relationships- built on trust and credibility. Be transparent, manage expectations and educate clients and candidates of the market.


  • Implement more tailored reward and recognition plans which meet individual needs and programs. Throw out any ‘one approach fits all’ mentalities.

  • Define growth opportunities through clear career paths with key milestones.

  • Use individual programs which look at employees as humans rather than workers.

We are starting to see glimpses of The Great Resignation across Australia and New Zealand and if the current movements are anything to go by, the recruitment industry is set for big changes in the New Year. But if planned well according to Eugene Ng,Roxanne Calder and Clare McCartin, there is tremendous opportunity for recruiters, employees and clients to excel in the area of retaining healthy, happy staff well into the future.

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