How the UK and EU are addressing the Great Resignation: increased pay

Waves of employee resignation have hit the United Kingdom and European Union just as hard as U.S., and employers are responding by making offers job seekers simply can’t refuse.

Image: iStockphoto/Pixsooz

As U.S. resignation rates continue to climb, reaching all-time highs by last report, employers in the U.K., Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and Ireland have taken a novel approach to slowing quit rates: Increasing pay and offering better benefits.

This news comes from U.K.-based integrated workforce management software company PRO Unlimited, which said it collected “billions of data points related to professional and technology roles” for its report.

The Great Resignation has led to millions of workers leaving their jobs, many due to a loss of remote work, a realization that they don’t want to work for less than they think they’re worth or simply because they’re burned out.

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PRO Unlimited said employment rates and job vacancies are reaching pre-pandemic levels in many European countries, which it said puts employers in an even tighter position. Here in the U.S., debates continue over whether we should be improving pay or increasing benefits. In Europe, however, the complex landscape caused by the great resignation “is pushing many leading companies to adjust their approach to talent acquisition and retention to maintain a competitive advantage,” the report said.

Now, where have we heard that before?

Why the UK and EU are changing hiring strategies

“Looking to 2022, there will be no slowdown in the recent trends of mobility, flexibility and increased globalization,” the report said. In other words, expect people to keep quitting if they’re not happy in their positions.

Employers surveyed for this report seem to understand that, especially considering how much longer it’s taking respondents to fill high-skilled positions: In the IT realm particularly, the average time it takes to fill a position rose from 14.9 days in 2020 to 21.5 days in 2021.

In addition, the report said that the demand for tech workers is growing across Europe and has already reached a point where businesses in countries like Belgium are having a hard time finding IT developers, data engineers, systems engineers and other skilled jobs. Employers in the Netherlands are having a hard time finding developers, while Germany and the U.K. are both hurting for security professionals, among others.

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Instead of dithering about whether to increase pay or add benefits in order to fill those critical roles, respondents said they’ve been ramping up compensation, and for some jobs that means a massive boost in salary. IT talent has seen an average 12% pay increase across all five nations covered in the report, data engineers have seen a 20% boost (31% in the Netherlands alone), and across the board in Ireland tech salaries have risen by 11% on average over the past two years.

It’s not just pay that’s increasing in the U.K. and Europe, either, with each country taking a different approach based on what it’s seen job seekers looking for:

  • Belgian employers have started offering private health insurance,
  • Dutch firms have added education stipends and reduced work hours to job postings,
  • Irish companies have began offering a four-day work week,
  • Germany and the U.K. have started offering more paid leave,
  • The UK has made sports and fitness equipment part of work perks,
  • And German employers have made free food, team events, and improved parking part of their packages.

Dustin Burgess, SVP of NorthStar HCM at PRO Unlimited, said employers need to start responding to the changing hiring landscape by getting a granular, up-close and detailed look at what competitors are doing to woo prospects and what prospects in their areas say they want.

“Deep visibility into talent availability, competitive pay rates, worker preferences and more will help firms fill positions faster with the right talent and stay agile,” Burgess said.


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