Calling it quits on ‘live to work’ mindset

PETALING JAYA: An unanticipated impact of Covid-19 is the global trend of workers voluntarily resigning from their jobs, highlighting shifting sentiments as more people look towards long-term goals.

The trend, referred to as The Great Resignation or The Big Quit, is most apparent in the United States where 4.4 million Americans quit their jobs in September amid the pandemic.

These resignations highlight how workers are no longer tolerating the “live to work” mindset, as Covid-19 increased workers’ stress and burnout.

Employees now are looking for jobs that provide flexibility, clearer career progression, purpose and a better work-life balance that allows for protection of mental health.

It is unclear for now if Malaysians will also follow suit.

While some indicate that the country’s very own Big Quit is gaining traction locally, others say that Malaysia’s different economic, social and cultural settings would mean that it is unlikely for widespread resignations to happen anytime soon.

A 2021 Global Work-Life Balance Index by United States-based security specialist Kisi ranked Kuala Lumpur as the eighth most overworked city out of the 50 surveyed.

Although work from home (WFH) has been a welcome change to many, there are also downsides to it.

One of the unwanted impacts of WFH is that it blurs the boundaries between personal and work life, leading to a heightened risk of burnout among Malaysians, said PwC’s Hopes and Fears Survey 2021.

Another finding – the 2021 Employee Movement and Retention report released by Employment Hero – stated that Malaysia’s Covid-19 economic recovery had triggered a national employee movement, with 61% of Malaysian talent planning to find a new job next year.

The study, which polled 1,004 Malaysian employees, found that 72% of workers would consider working abroad, thus possibly exacerbating the issue of brain drain.

Other research, however, painted a different picture.

The 2020 Salary Survey by the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) found that the overall turnover rate for the period of July 2019 to June 2020 was lower compared to the previous period of July 2018 to June 2019.

The trend of lower turnover rates is expected to continue for the June 2020 to June 2021 period, said MEF president Datuk Dr Syed Hussain Syed Husman.

He attributed the lower turnover rate mainly to the economic uncertainty posed by Covid-19 and high unemployment.

Retention strategies described in the survey include offering competitive salaries, benefits packages, training opportunities, better employee engagement, flexible work arrangements, growth and promotion opportunities.

The MTUC also does not foresee a large resignation movement taking place in Malaysia.

“There are differences in culture, climate and also social protection in Europe,” said MTUC president Datuk Abdul Halim Mansorr.

While there are many unemployed persons in Malaysia, he said that this was not caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Instead, he was of the view that it was due to a lack of suitable work, low salaries and employers’ preference for hiring foreign workers.

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