No big resignation in Belgium... but a lot of small ones - Trends-Tendances sur PC

No big resignation in Belgium… but a lot of small ones – Trends-Tendances sur PC

The Great Resignation is a phenomenon that is shaking the American labor market. Over the past two years, many employees have voluntarily left their firm. With us, none of that. On the surface anyway.

In 2021, about 47 million Americans quit their jobs, more than a quarter of the country’s wage employment. This phenomenon that labor market specialists call “the great resignation” continues this year, with still roughly 4 million resignations per month.

In 2021, about 47 million Americans quit their jobs, more than a quarter of the country’s wage employment. This phenomenon that labor market specialists call “the great resignation” continues this year, with still roughly 4 million resignations per month. Of course, the American labor market has traditionally been very mobile. But as McKinsey consultants point out, among American employees, the rate of voluntary departures is still 25% higher than before the pandemic. And this desire to go elsewhere to see if the grass is greener is not about to die out. Two main motivations behind these departures: the feeling that the company that employs them does not offer the best prospects for advancement and career, and the remuneration. This general tendency to want to quit one’s job seems purely American. In our country, we are rather witnessing a drop in resignations. As the Securex social secretariat pointed out, the voluntary departure rate remains stable compared to last year, at 3.3%. And if we combine voluntary and involuntary departures, the staff turnover rate is even down, to 5.1% in the first half, against 5.4% in the first half of last year. No big resignation then. But when you dig a little deeper, you can see many small ones, affecting either specific sectors or certain age groups. Unsurprisingly, sectors where schedules are sometimes difficult (horeca, healthcare, events, etc.) are the most affected. “We have indeed had a lot of feedback from employers – in the catering industry in particular – observing that part of their staff has left to go work elsewhere, notes Olivier Mauen, spokesperson for the SNI (Neutral Union for the Self-Employed). Some went to mass distribution, or to bpost for example, where, with more or less equal pay, they have less complicated working conditions.” Luc Marchal, vice-president of the Horeca Wallonia Federation, confirms the desire for movement among workers in his sector. “Many, for a yes or a no, will quickly look elsewhere, he notes. And this especially among the youngest who have not yet sat down for several years of ‘house’. covid. Workers have taken on certain habits: free evenings, quiet weekends. And some have struggled to get back into the job.” This last phenomenon is not specific to the hotel and catering industry. It is also observed in the transport sector. Patrick Westelinck, Director General of the Belgian Federation of Bus and Coach Operators, points out that there will be a shortage of 150 drivers to carry out school pick-ups at the start of the school year. “A lack that can be explained by the fact that young people are no longer so attracted to this work (the average age in the sector is 52, and it increases by one year every 24 months), analyzes- But also because when the collections had to be interrupted with the covid, some took the opportunity to change jobs or take their early retirement. Another sign of these many “small resignations”: the phenomenon affects more and more SMEs. Thierry Evens, spokesperson for the Union des Classes Moyennes, observes that over the first seven months of the year, 7.3% of employers affiliated to the social secretariat are concerned. We should therefore exceed 10% this year, and thus beat the 2019 record. This is a different picture from that offered by the Securex figures which show a decline… For Thierry Evens, “the difference by the fact that we are over-represented in very small companies and in particular in sectors such as the catering and construction sectors where it is easy to change employers due to the enormous shortage of labour. which also comes into play is this basic tendency to pay more attention to one’s quality of work and quality of life, a tendency which has been accentuated with the covid. We can see that this is reflected not only in the rate voluntary rotation, but also in the transition to self-employed status. In 20 years, the number of self-employed as their main occupation has increased from 586,000 to 787,000” (see graph). Another category of employees also seems to be on the move: they are young people, traditionally much more mobile than their elders. The HR services company Acerta, whose database includes 30,000 employers, observes that 11% of all employment contracts for young people under 25 have already been terminated during the first seven months of this year. Figures which join those of Securex which notes that among young people under 25 on permanent and fixed-term contracts, 10.4% have already terminated their contract or resigned by mutual agreement with their employer in the first half of this year. Conversely, where Securex and Acerta diverge is when we talk about trends. For Acerta, voluntary rotations (resignations and terminations by mutual agreement) explode in 2022: “There is indeed a big difference between this year and the previous ones, notes Kathelijne Verboomen, who heads the center for legal studies and services at Acerta. “Acerta. It was after the covid that this wave of departures appeared. And in our figures, we only take into account permanent contracts, that is to say contracts that still offer a certain perspective” . The head of Acerta puts forward several elements to explain this need for air: “Young people are perhaps a more critical generation, there is a war for talents and the labor market has been quite unpredictable for three years. In addition, this year, there have been added international tensions, a sharp rise in the cost of living (with the prices of energy and food products). Young people do not lag behind: if they have a better opportunity, they change”. Securex does not observe this explosion but, on the contrary, a stagnation or even a decrease: the percentage of voluntary rotation of those under 25 was 17.6% in 2019, 19.7% in 2020 and 15.3% in 2021. “In times of crisis, young people are more conservative, they have taken out mortgage loans, want to start a family and therefore attach themselves rather to their CDI”, explains Steven De Vliegher who recalls that it is difficult to compare the figures of semester with those of a full year because voluntary departures experience a seasonal effect. These statistical differences between the two HR companies can be explained both because Securex takes into account permanent and fixed-term contracts (Acerta only retains fixed-term contracts) and because the samples on the basis of which the statistics are drawn up may differ. Securex selects, from the 290,000 people under contract it takes care of, a little less than 54,000 in order to have an image that best reflects the entire Belgian labor market in terms of gender, region, sectors. And companies with more than 1,000 employees are excluded from the scope. Rather than a great resignation, specific to the United States, shouldn’t we rather speak, in developed countries, of “great renegotiation”, wonders the consultant McKinsey. Because the danger of losing qualified workers is well perceived here by business leaders, and more especially those of SMEs. More than 60% of the latter believe that it will be particularly difficult to retain their staff in the second half of this year, underlines a survey carried out among 500 managers of SMEs questioned by Acerta and the Flemish employers’ organizations ETION and VKW Limburg. To keep their workers, SME bosses put forward measures to improve their well-being, attractive salary packages, and they also work to improve inclusion and diversity. “Convenient mobility solutions, such as bicycle allowances, company cars and fuel cards, also remain popular,” they say at Acerta. “We are also seeing an increase in profit sharing, alternative remuneration methods … in sensitive sectors such as technology or business services where you have to be imaginative to keep people,” adds Thierry Evens. In the catering industry, employers are working to change the way they operate, observes Luc Marchal. “Companies in the sector are difficult to compare with each other. Some are in tourist regions, others not, some attract a business clientele, others do not. It is therefore difficult to generalize. But many employers take the ahead and offer their workers, for example, three free evenings a week, to work every other weekend, etc. Workers now want a comfortable life, continues the vice-president of Horeca Wallonia. “The sector must readapt, he notes. And it is for this reason that you see more cafes, restaurants or brasseries now closed two days a week or only opening four evenings. same salary, with increased comfort, he is more likely to stay in the company.”


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