40% of project managers will move jobs in 2022 – are you ready for the Great Resignation?

Like most industries, Australia’s project profession has been rocked by COVID-19. In the early stages of the pandemic, people clung to the security of their current jobs while life as they knew it tipped upside down.

But as lockdowns and border closures made time stand still, people reflected on their lives.

The conclusion? Life’s too short to stay at a stressful, unfulfilling job. People want more from their careers. Job vacancies are high, and so is employee confidence.

Worldwide, 40% of employees are looking to change jobs within 6 months

Employers need to act fast to avoid the disruption of large-scale turnover and turn the trend into an opportunity to build a cohesive, committed team.

Whether you’re a project manager considering joining The Great Resignation or an employer hoping to hold on to your delivery teams, this will be an important read for you. Find out our Great Resignation predictions for project management in 2022 and what you can do to prepare.

What is The Great Resignation?

The Great Resignation is a phenomenon that emerged in the US in 2021 that saw record numbers of people quitting their jobs and human resource departments scrambling to find out why.

Around 4 million Americans quit their jobs every month in 2021, which is the highest rate of resignation since 2000.

Several studies undertaken by heavyweight analysts like McKinsey and PwC consistently suggest that 40% of the workforce wants to change jobs in the next six months. Resignation rates are highest in people aged between 30 and 45.

How is it playing out in Australia?

According to the ABS, over 600,000 or 40% of employees expect to be with a new employer in 2022.

So far, it hasn’t really reached our shores. But with COVID-19 restrictions (finally) easing and a low resignation rate in 2021, the Great Resignation is predicted to hit here around March 2022.

Why are project managers resigning?

The pandemic has prompted project managers to reflect on their professional goals, personal priorities and what they want to get out of their careers. Project professionals generally resign in search of:

  1. A more supportive workplace culture

  2. More meaningful and fulfilling work

  3. Better work-life balance

Because project managers generally have highly transferable skills, moving industries is a viable option. They want to work in organisations that value their wellbeing and professional growth, not just their performance.

According to results from the AIM 2021 Leadership Survey, one of the main reasons people resign from their positions is a lack of career development opportunities.

Flexible work options are also high on the list. The pandemic prompted a massive shift to remote working. If employees have any say in the matter, the hybrid work model will be here to stay:

  • 90% of employees think hybrid work has improved their mental health

  • 83% say their physical health has improved

  • 70% of people want flexible work options to continue

  • 65% want more in-person time with their teams

  • 58% would look for a new job if they can’t continue remote working

Tips for project managers who want to join the Great Resignation

So, are you part of the 40% of project managers ready to join the revolution? With job vacancies at a 13-year high, it’s a great time to look at your options. Here are some tips to help your decision making:

  1. Check your financials: ensure you’ve got enough in the bank to keep you afloat during your transition

  2. Be clear on your objectives: exactly what are you hoping to achieve in your move?

  3. Thoroughly assess new opportunities: make sure the culture, benefits and project mix are worth leaving your current job for

  4. Build your skills: consider doing a course like the BSB50820 Diploma of Project Management to upskill and improve your career prospects

  5. Talk to your current employer: you might find your employer is willing to invest in your professional development or make other changes that make it worth your while to stay. The cost of replacing an employee is on average 122% of that employee’s salary, so there’s a large financial incentive for them to retain you

Tips for employers who want to retain talent

With high vacancy rates and ongoing border closures, Australian businesses are struggling to find experienced and qualified project managers. The trends are concerning:

  • 53% of employers say they are experiencing more voluntary turnover than ever

  • 64% expect it to get worse in the next six months

  • 36% of people who resigned in the last six months didn’t have a job lined up – such is the level of confidence in the job market

  • 40% of people plan to leave their jobs, but 48% of business leaders aren’t planning to redesign their employee value proposition

Companies who take the time to understand what their employees want and go about meeting their needs will be best placed to attract and retain the best talent.

  1. Assess the problem: take the time to understand the scale of the issue in your workplace. Are people planning on leaving? Do you have open positions?

  2. Identify the root causes: get to the bottom of why people are leaving your organisation

  3. Learn what employees want: is it a better career path? More money? Flexible working? A reinvigorated culture?

  4. Look to your employees to help shape the solution: develop personalised retention programs in collaboration with your employees

  5. Don’t try to buy your way out of the situation: employees are looking for more than a pay rise. For example, research showed that 54% of employees valued hybrid work more than a 5% pay rise.

  6. Be innovative and reimagine the way your organisation works: it’s a great chance to implement new ways of working that could lead to significant improvements in retention and productivity. 64% of employees feel their organisation should do more to improve project management skills and capability, so capture the opportunity to invest in your people, and keep them.

Get ready for the Great Resignation

For employees and employers, one of the best ways to prepare for The Great Resignation is to invest in building new skills. Career opportunities will emerge for employees, and for employers, offering professional development pathways will help you become a workplace of choice.

Elemental Projects has a nationally recognised BSB50820 Diploma of Project Management starting March 1, 2022. Register before January 14, 2022, to receive $500 early bird discount for individuals, or $1,000 per person for groups of three or more people.

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