The Great Resignation and the Tax Market

There is a Roald Dahl-esque phrase going around - ‘The Great Resignation’.  It was coined by a university professor in Texas*.  His phrase sums up a dramatic trend in the employment market globally which is that people at all levels of society are quitting their jobs. Microsoft’s ‘Work Trend Index’ Survey of 31,000 workers globally, showed 41% planned to resign from their roles before the end of 2021. Microsoft’s survey has been backed up by the US Office of Statistics which showed that 4 million workers resigned in April 2021 and similar numbers in June 2021. Then in August PricewaterhouseCoopers survey showed 65% of workers were looking for a new role.

What is causing this avalanche of resignations? The impact of Covid on people’s lives. Lockdowns and restrictions, home working and home schooling have had a once in a lifetime impact that only World Wars can come close to. Never before in our lifetimes have we had so much time at home enforced on us.  Time away from our offices and work colleagues.  This has broken the ties to our employers and employees.  It has ruptured the team ethic which dominates the accountancy and legal professions.  It has given us time to focus on ourselves and what we value.  How many people have for example focused on their cooking, their health and fitness, their hobbies such as crafts. How many have spent more time with their children? Or indeed spent less time with extended family because of restrictions.

I’ve seen people resigning from tax roles for a range of Covid related reasons.  Some want to move out of cities and into the countryside because Lockdowns have tarnished their city centre flats and made them appreciate greener spaces.  Others got dogs in lockdown and don’t want to have to return to the office full time.  Some enjoyed spending more time with their children and don’t want to return to a world of child minders and after school clubs.  Others want to relocate to be closer to their families.  Some have decided to leave tax altogether to focus on a skill set that they reinvigorated over lockdown or have used it as an opportunity to launch their own business.

I’m seeing a split between tax professionals at manager level and beyond who have happily swapped their commutes for home working with those trainees and junior staff who want a return to office working, Christmas parties and socialising.

My gut reaction is that the hybrid model of working is here to stay as it offers the best compromise to keep tax teams happy.  I also see a huge shift in the tax market which means that some roles will become 100% remote and this will open up the employment market on a National and even international level (though only as far as individuals having UK tax experience).

How we tie our teams together in the face of endless resignations is difficult.  I think telling them about new hires and also going back to some of the things that worked early on in the pandemic such as online quizzes and socials with treats being sent to homes.  Anything that can work to build team morale.  As we are currently out of lockdown – outside events such as treasure trails and walks could be a way of getting people together in a safe way.  Women in Tax in Manchester are for example running their first in person event for a year on 30th of September doing a guided walk round the City of Manchester  and London branch are holding a legal walk on 18th October.  See https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/women-in-tax-13431693275 for details.

Finally, the one upside of this resignation trend is that the tax market is extremely buoyant and salaries are on the increase. When the furlough money runs dry (and the deals market slows) we will see if the economy is impacted and whether this trend changes but currently tax recruitment is booming.

*Professor Anthony Klotz, Professor of Management at Texas A&M University, coined the phrase ‘The Great Resignation’ – also known as ‘The Great Quit

Georgiana Head is a tax trained tax recruiter, she is ATT qualified and a has worked in tax recruitment for over 20 years. For further information contact her at georgiana@ghrtax.com

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