Great resignation: Will employees soon be running away from you?

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They are the bugbears that make HR professionals cringe. This year, we’re hearing terms such as “big quit” and “great resignation” more and more often. Studies now show that the phenomenon originated in the USA.

The “Great Resignation” or “Big Quit” is the term used to describe the largest wave of voluntary resignations to date in the USA and beyond, the causes of which are still being investigated. It is still unclear to what extent this trend will also spill over into Germany. What cannot be explained away in this country, however, is the record high that the shortage of skilled workers reached in 2022. More than 850,000 positions have been unfilled in Germany for 2022 as of August.

Companies therefore need to be more concerned than ever about talent and take active measures to retain employees. We will go into more detail on what these could be below.

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German willingness to change jobs has increased

A recent Forsa study conducted by XING E-Recruiting in 2022 found that one in four people had quit their job even if a new employment contract had not yet been signed. 37 percent of the study participants said they were open to changing jobs or had even already taken active steps. Compared to the previous year, this represents an increase of twelve percent.

The largest proportion of workers willing to change jobs is between the ages of 30 and 39. In mid-career, almost one in two (48 percent) is ready to accept a new job offer.

A further factor makes it even more difficult to recruit employees. The application process is taking longer and longer in German companies. While it took an average of 57 days in 2010, it was 86 days in 2015 and 124 days in 2022. Pioneers are already using data-driven recruiting to reduce time-to-hire.

Corona and employee retention

How big an impact has the Covid-19 pandemic had on weakened employee retention? According to 25 percent of German respondents and as many as 40 percent of Swiss respondents, the pandemic has indeed influenced their decision to change jobs.

Graphic on the subject of employee retention following the coronavirus. Employees value health more than work.

Graphic from Microsoft Work Trend Index 2022 data. (Link to the study in the sources)

The Covid-19 pandemic has disintegrated the status quo of the modern workplace and has been associated with uncertainty, hiring freezes, and high psychological and professional stress for many employees. The fact that the wave of layoffs was conspicuously strong in the tech and health care sectors, which were under particular pressure to perform during this period, is particularly suggestive of high workload as a cause.

Other factors could also have played a role, such as short-time work or job loss: affected individuals had time during the pandemic to reorient their work and life goals. With society’s increased focus on health, more and more people have re-evaluated whether their job is detrimental to their well-being due to stress, for example, or whether their current job is compatible with their new work-life balance. Regardless of the cause, however, one thing is clear: especially now that employers are asking their employees to come back to the office, corporate culture and sense of belonging are once again being put to the test.

The search for the cause leads to the companies

Is the office still worth the commute? What may sound defiant at first sometimes stems from very natural concerns. The daily trip to and from the office takes time and poses additional health risks on public transportation.

Many are not willing to return to the old status quo, because the home office has led to more self-determination and freedom when organizing work, despite increased work performance. If companies take these factors away from their employees by forcing them to return too quickly, the risk of a career change increases.

The XINGing E-Recruiting Study of 2022 showed that flexible working and self-determination are no longer just desirable, but are now taken for granted. According to XING respondents, these job attributes are particularly important:

  • 59 percent: Good leadership
  • 57 percent: Flexible working hours
  • 54 percent: Higher salary
  • 52 percent: Personal fulfillment
  • 52 percent: The opportunity to work remotely

Companies should derive their measures from this as quickly as possible.

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What measures help with employee retention?

For better or worse, companies and HR departments have to move with the times. New concepts and solutions for employee retention are needed if they want to improve their employee retention. Data-driven HR and recruiting strategies are key to doing this.


Cultural fit is becoming an increasingly critical factor in determining whether an applicant will join the company or whether employees will stay in the long term. To determine this, companies need to examine their own corporate culture and values. This may also mean putting previous thinking on the subject to the test.

Employee retention

On the other hand, there is no reason to wait until employees become so dissatisfied that they leave the company or allow themselves to be poached. The existing workforce should receive as much attention as employee recruitment. Surveys and mood barometers can help capture the current situation and formulate measures.

Co-creation is the key word here. Companies should involve their workforce in the change and let them participate in shaping the new work culture. In this way, they create a higher level of identification and do not risk an expensive shot in the dark.

The desire for a change should also be taken seriously. Targeted training programs can offer employees new career prospects and express their importance to the company. In the best case, bosses can even fill hard-to-fill positions internally. This job crafting in turn leads to an increased sense of self-determination and is therefore becoming an increasingly important means of employee retention.

Management training

Last but not least, coaching should also be offered to management. The changed conditions of the working world have led to increased pressure and uncertainty here as well. Managers and team leads have had a special burden in maneuvering their teams through uncertain times. Now they face the next immense challenge of creating a new standard for flexible work that keeps business goals in mind, despite a volatile labor market.

This means that many expectations need to be reconciled. Leadership coaching also helps to sensitize the management level to these issues and to provide new impetus. This empowerment of managers is necessary in order to adjust to the changed expectations and to implement them in real terms in the individual teams.


The effects of the past two years can no longer be wiped away. Nevertheless, now is the right time for change, because employees are not out the door yet.

Even if the Great Resignation has not yet reached its full extent in Germany, employers and HR managers should already initiate important measures for employee retention. One important point: continuing education in the form of upskilling and reskilling.

StackFuel training helps decision-makers and companies prepare themselves and their employees for critical job positions. Digital skills make one’s job easier and specifically qualify professionals for technical and data-driven job roles. Whether learning or career paths, we offer the right HR development solution for companies.

Pioneers such as Deutsche Bahn and Daimler are already successfully qualifying their employees through us. Would you like to find out what their learning journeys look like and what successes they have already celebrated? Talk to us personally and we will develop the right business solution for you.

Get a free, no-obligation consultation on how StackFuel can strengthen your employee retention with certified online training. Find a free appointment here.


XING (2022): “Study by XING E-Recruiting: In German-speaking countries, one in four resigns without having a new job” [24.08.2022]

XING (2022): “Willingness to change jobs: An opportunity for professionals – and recruiting” [24.08.2022]

Kununu (2022): “The Great Resignation – have you quit or are you still thinking about it?” [24.08.2022]

Human Resources Manager (2022): “The Great Resignation: self-determination is in demand” [24.08.2022]

Microsoft (2022): ”Work Trend Index 2022: Great Expectations: Making Hybrid Work Work” [24.08.2022]

Brave New Leaders (2022): “Creating a workplace worth the commute” [24.08.2022]

Statista (2022): “Stock of reported job vacancies¹ in Germany on an annual average from 2011 to 2022” [19.09.2022]

Leo Marose
Leo Marose
Leo Marose has been CEO and Co-Founder of StackFuel GmbH since Mai 2017, which offers online education and career paths in big data, data science, data analytics and artificial Intelligence. His goal is the digital revolution of the EdTech sector and making data skills accessible to everyone. Leo Marose is also committed to closing the gender data gap and bringing more diversity to the data industry. To achieve this, he created the Women in Data scholarship with StackFuel in June 2021 and launched the first online conference on building data literacy for everyone, the Data Literacy Day, in December 2021. StackFuel has already received several awards for its innovative learning platform and is considered the market leader in the field of German-language training in data literacy.

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