The notion that millions of workers are quitting in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis may have yielded the "Great Resignation" trend in the US. But can the same be said of Australia?
The short answer is no. There's a lot more to consider when breaking down details of Australia's quit rates, two experts said.
In a recent essay in The Conversation, Mark Wooden and Peter Gahan of The University of Melbourne clarified three aspects about the trend:
1) The numbers don't point to the phenomenon happening in Australia.
2) Turnover can be healthy for Australia's talent economy.
3) The resignation rate in the country is, in fact, declining.
Nearly 1.1 million Australians have quit their jobs in the 12 months to February 2021 – a trend that might not be too shocking to employers considering how more than a million workers quit yearly prior to the pandemic, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics suggest.
"Leaving and changing jobs is a sign of a healthy, well-functioning labour market," Wooden and Gahan said.
"If Australia has had a problem, it is with fewer and fewer quitting, something Treasury officials have identified as a contributor to low growth in both wages and productivity."
In the same period to February 2021, the rate of job switching among Australians hit a record low of 7.6%, falling from a peak of 19.5% in 1988-89. However, "a rise in quit rates would be far from undesirable," they said.
"If job opportunities improve as the economy opens and competition for workers increases, quit rates should increase as more workers seek to move to jobs providing better wages and opportunities. But we repeat: there would be nothing unusual or undesirable about this."
A bigger hurdle that employers must contend with, they said, is getting workers back into the workplace after a period of lockdown.
"The issue here is not so much a Great Resignation, but how to deal with a Great Resistance to the idea of returning to the office, and the daily commute," Wooden and Gahan said.