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Australia Millions of people are quitting their jobs. But will Australia miss out on ‘The Great Resignation’?

14:20  25 october  2021
14:20  25 october  2021 Source:   crikey.com.au

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Think you deserve better than your current job? You’re not alone. A record number of American workers — 4.3 million in August — are leaving their jobs in what has been dubbed “The Great Resignation“.

  Millions of people are quitting their jobs. But will Australia miss out on ‘The Great Resignation’? © Provided by Crikey

Australian employers are nervous that the trend could spread across the Pacific, as it has to other developed nations. There is growing evidence that an increasing number of workers are fed up and looking for new opportunities. Microsoft, PwC and HR experts estimate two in five Aussies feel this way, while other researchers suggest it could up to three in five.

But maybe don’t flip your boss the bird and storm out just yet. While Aussies might feel similarly dissatisfied, there is a reason to believe they might not rip their aprons off at the same rates as their overseas counterparts: our government isn’t on their side.

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The pandemic has made working life harder for many, reinforced the preciousness of social activities and leisure, and reminded us that life is short. This has prompted many people to reassess their current employment deal and look around for better pay and conditions like ongoing remote work, more paid leave, and flexibility of hours to catch up on lost holidays and family gatherings.

It’s getting hot in here

Job dissatisfaction alone doesn’t result in mass walkouts. Plenty of miserable people stay in dead-end jobs for a long time. To finally quit, workers also need to be confident there are better alternatives out there.

  Millions of people are quitting their jobs. But will Australia miss out on ‘The Great Resignation’? © Provided by Crikey

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Most people’s ideal alternative is a better-paying job. But over the last three decades, many Seek searches have not been plentiful. That’s because of a little-discussed but deliberate government policy to keep it that way.

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Since the 1970s, officials have worried that a “hot” economy with too many job opportunities would force employers to pay their workers more to secure their loyalty, and that this upward pressure could kick off an inflationary spiral. To dampen workers’ expectations, governments kept a tight rein on unions, public sector jobs and welfare benefits, and many central banks kept interest rates higher than strictly necessary to prevent too many businesses from expanding and hiring.

But this approach emerged discredited from the global financial crisis, and now the Biden administration has sounded its death knell. The US Federal Reserve, under Trump’s surprisingly good chair nominee Jerome Powell, has resisted calls to hike interest rates to cut job opportunities, even as inflation rises. And the Democratic majority in Congress, meanwhile, has been writing trillion-dollar cheques to create jobs in social services, infrastructure, green energy and more.

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The result: there are now more vacancies than unemployed workers in America, which allows applicants to be choosy. New York Times journalist Ezra Klein has called it the “take this job and shove it” economy. When employers began whingeing that they couldn’t attract or retain workers with their usual payrates, President Biden bluntly responded: “pay them more”.

Morrison doesn’t want ‘jobs and growth’

There are signs Australia could be heading in a similar direction. Those who have accumulated “COVID savings” will soon start splashing the cash, which will increase the number of jobs and their pay rates — just ask the pub owners who offered over $40 base rates for recent “Freedom Day” shifts in Sydney and Melbourne.

The Reserve Bank has also pledged to keep interest rates low to try to lift employment and wages. And Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has indicated he’d like to take unemployment lower than he previously thought possible.

A big factor in employment decisions is the dole — if it’s too low to live on comfortably, jobseekers must jump at the next available position instead of holding out for a better one. Yet Canberra has quickly slammed the door on liveable welfare payments as vaccination rates rise, even though many venues still face capacity limits.

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The Morrison government also opposed the Fair Work Commission’s recent minimum wage rise, unlike many US states and Boris Johnson’s Conservatives in the UK. Australia’s recovery spending has also been far less ambitious than our major allies, as the PM seeks another “business-led recovery”. Finally, the Coalition is keen to help their mates in industries like agriculture by resuming the flow of temporary migrant workers, even introducing new visa categories to help the sector avoid raising wages to attract local workers.

Much of our present jobs growth is being eaten up by overqualified applicants. And once the post-lockdown splurge runs out of puff, the lack of government support will likely dampen workers’ confidence to take career risks.

Labor has promisingly suggested a full employment white paper if it wins the next election, though why further investigation is needed while other nations make concrete changes remains unclear.

In the meantime, one can only hope the Coalition’s intransigence isn’t strong enough to stop “The Great Resignation” from arriving on our shores. Otherwise Australians could be stuck at their same old desks with their same old pay for many years to come.

The post Millions of people are quitting their jobs. But will Australia miss out on ‘The Great Resignation’? appeared first on Crikey.

Millionaire explains why 'Great Resignation' won't happen in Australia .
Fred Schebesta, the co-founder of financial comparison group Finder, has explained why 'The Great Resignation' that is sweeping the US won't be replicated in Australia.Fred Schebesta, the co-founder of financial comparison group Finder, said there was a fundamental reason why Australian workers would not be copying the US.

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This is interesting!