Swiss workers are quitting, but why?
resignations

Swiss workers are quitting, but why?

This is something that has recently developed. Since the end of the pandemic, there is a growing number of Swiss workers quitting voluntarily.

18 November 2021

Switzerland is a fantastic place to live.

Its cities, housing, schooling and food are all top quality. It's so safe that even your kids can walk on their own to kindergarten. There are snow-capped mountains, clear lakes, punctual trains, and great chocolate. But the biggest attraction I believe lies with the Swiss view of work.

The salaries and perks that go with them are incredibly generous. Swiss companies take good care of their workers. However, what’s really striking are the strong values the Swiss have when it comes to working overall.

It’s not difficult to grasp.  In such a beautiful country, the idea is that you should always work to live, rather than live to work.

So why are some Swiss workers quitting?

This is something that has recently developed. Since the end of the pandemic, there is a growing number of Swiss workers quitting voluntarily.

The reasons are complex, but they do centre on what Swiss workers hold dear when it comes to work – their quality of life. Most of these reasons link back to the pandemic and the changes this event brought into our lives. It forced many of us to re-evaluate our options.

Let’s run through some of these developments.

Flexible working has been a powerful driver

Numerous polls have revealed that workers neither want to work in the office one hundred percent, nor at home full-time. The vast majority just want the flexibility to choose or have a balance mix of the two.

Here’s what I’ve noticed as a recruiter. Firstly, the topic of flexible working nearly always comes up when I’m speaking to candidates. Some candidates are searching for new roles because their current employer insisted that they return to the office one hundred percent. In some instances, the candidate has already quit their job to avoid returning to the office.

Talented workers have the savings to quit

During the pandemic, well-paid and talented workers managed to save significantly. They saved on travelling to work, eating out and socialising during the lockdown. They also had time to re-evaluate their careers.

For many candidates, a salary is no longer the first consideration. They have managed to save enough, which opens up options which they are now free to pursue. It's not just about flexible working. Some of these workers are looking for a lifestyle change or to completely switch careers.

The pandemic allowed them to really consider whether they were happy with what they were doing. In some instances, workers found out that they were a lot more stressed, under pressure or unhappy in their jobs than they had realised.

The world has gone through a great reset. Life has changed. A significant global economic recovery is now underway. There are now new opportunities that are worth pursuing. This is the time to seize the moment. They have the savings built up from the lockdown to finance a change in career and the chance to take advantage of the new opportunities now offered in a post-pandemic world.

Key workers and those working in the service sector are also quitting

Another development that is worth noting is that lower paid workers are also quitting voluntarily. This is a trend that began even before the pandemic. According to the Swiss Labor Force Survey, which is yet to release 2020 numbers for this particular metric, 19.2% of workers left their jobs between 2018 and 2019.

This was particularly pronounced among young workers and those working in the hotel and catering industry. Some of the reasons given were unsatisfactory working conditions and a reluctance to stay in jobs with little future security.

Many of these workers who are quitting may either feel burnt out or feel emboldened by the current labour market conditions. They don't necessarily want to return to backbreaking or boring work, even if the wages are decent.

The hardship experienced by these workers during the pandemic might also be a contributing factor. The conditions are also good for workers to exert pressure on their employers as they are now in a strong negotiating position. The best way to do this right now is to threaten to quit, or actually quit. If there is a shortage of workers like them, they can easily find a new role quickly.

Quality matters

This is not a debate about whether or not workers should return to the office after the pandemic. It is clear that flexible working is here to stay and is an important part of an attractive employment package.

I would also argue that what we are seeing goes beyond this. Workers want more. They don't just want more money, but a better quality of life. This is especially true in Switzerland, where having a good quality of life is extremely important.

If that means quitting to achieve it, then that's what Swiss workers will do.

Luca Semeraro

Head of Badenoch & Clark
Zurich, Switzerland

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