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The Great Resignation & Quiet Quitting [Practical Advice For HR & Payroll]

Industry Trends

16 February, 2023

The Great Resignation & Quiet Quitting [Practical Advice For HR & Payroll]

Karolina Kulach

Karolina Kulach

Senior Content Marketing Expert (HR & Payroll)

The Great Resignation has 53% of HR pros burned out.

The loud layoffs we hear about don’t represent the overall job market. Attracting and retaining the right talent is still challenging for many HR departments and businesses.

In this article you’ll learn about:

  • What employees and companies really need in the era of the Great Resignation and quiet quitting (and also in the “Great Layoffs” time)
  • The impact of the Great Resignation on HR, payroll and profitability
  • Significant statistics and plenty of practical solutions
  • HR and payroll technology that can help you free up time and improve employee engagement and retention

Job seekers don’t want to be in a last-in-first-out situation if the company takes a dive, and most employees want to be sure they work for stable organizations.

That said, employee engagement and retention matter more than ever. Engaged and motivated employees are essential in the current economic recession (due to limited hiring opportunities).

Download this printable employee engagement calendar 2023 to plan HR activities and increase employee happiness throughout the coming year!

HR Calendar 2023: FREE Download

The Great Resignation: what employees really need

The term “Great Resignation” describes the historical quit rate happening on the job market after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Covid-19 has reshaped many employees’ priorities. Many have realized that life is too short to get stuck in unsatisfying jobs.

Even though the recent “Great Layoffs” are getting a lot of attention, they don’t represent the overall job market. We may be living during the economic downturn and high inflation, but many employees continue to leave their jobs or “quit quietly”.

What is essential for employees in the era of the Great Resignation?

  • Compensation
  • Flexibility, including flexible work hours and remote work
  • Work-life balance
  • Mental health and well-being benefits
  • Meaningfulness in work
  • Career advancement
  • Positive culture

Compensation is still at the top. However, employees are searching not only for a paycheck, but also for joy, happiness, respect, flexibility, and healthy employee experiences.

Employee retention in the Great Resignation: why are you looking for new opportunities?
Employee retention in the Great Resignation: survey

Consider the following stats and facts:

  • 7 out of 10 workers are open to new opportunities, whether they’re passively open or actively looking (The Great Discontent: 2021 Worker Survey” by Workable).
  • Disengagement among employees costs US businesses around $500 billion annually (Gallup estimates).
  • Almost 7 in every 10 British employees say they feel confident of moving to a new job in the next couple of months. Only 16% of workers feel worried about trying to get a new job (Randstad UK).
  • A “non-traditional value proposition” is crucial to keep and attract a new generation of workers. Flexibility, mental well-being, and a strong, meaningful company culture are part of this (McKinsey).
  • Improving your retention rates is important, especially in an era when it’s a headache to retain top talent and workers.
  • Not all businesses can rely on compensation as a driver of retention (or can’t do it indefinitely).

Quiet quitting requires building an engaging company culture

On top of the term “Great Resignation”, it’s worth mentioning quiet quitting. The term “quiet quitting” refers to employees who show up at work to do the bare minimum. According to some people:

Quiet quitting is a trendy new name for worker dissatisfaction and lack of engagement.

Watch the video below about why employee engagement matters.

The reality is that employers must act quickly so they don’t put their companies at risk.

Although getting paid on time is the most important factor, pay isn’t the only reason employees (quiet) quit. The lack of work-life balance and a poor company culture are also contributing factors.

Workplaces where workers merely sit at their desks and click their life away are a thing of the past.

Employees value different forms of compensation and intangibles. In fact, an engaging culture can make them more likely to stay in their jobs. As a result, you’ll experience less disruption from recruiting new hires and filling knowledge gaps.

Download HR Calendar 2023 to build an engaging culture and celebrate important days with your employees. Plan well, get really creative, and have fun along the way!

HR Calendar 2023: download now

The impact of the Great Resignation on HR

On the one hand, the Great Resignation is challenging for HR departments. On the other hand, many HR leaders are excited about the impact they can make in their organizations.

Consider the following stats from AllVoices:

  • 48% of HR leaders have recently seen over 30% of their staff quit.
  • Most employees are leaving because they’ve found a better offer or due to personal responsibilities, changing career paths, or reevaluating their life and their priorities.
  • 65% of HR leaders have seen more employee requests lately (financial requests, requests for better benefits, health insurance, or requests for flexible work arrangements).
  • It costs between $61,000 and $80,000 to replace an employee.
  • 53% of HR leaders are burned out.

It costs between $61,000 and $80,000 to replace an employee.


At the same time, HR leaders are excited about:

  • Improving collaboration, communication, and building relationships across teams so employees can thrive in a more engaged and happier workplace.
  • Implementing new technology so HR can do their jobs more efficiently and effectively using the right tools.
  • Using analytics for data-driven decision-making.
  • Putting more emphasis on hiring the right talent: getting the right people into the right roles.

To do that, HR can’t waste time on manual, repetitive work and processes that tools can do. Finding the right HR & payroll provider can help automate unnecessary work.

HR & payroll vs. profitability

Imagine if salespeople spent much of their time processing orders and managing documents instead of pursuing sales. It wouldn’t take long to see the impact of this on the company’s bottom line.

Now consider HR & payroll departments and imagine:

  • Hundreds of files, hard copies, and spreadsheets saved in multiple places
  • Constant changes: employee rotation, changing pay rates, new contracts, amendments, and terminations
  • Complicated calculations, such as calculating overtime pay and bonuses
  • Missing employee data
  • Never-ending manual work that wastes too much time and resources

Welcome to the world of HR & payroll in many organizations.

Entering, verifying, and managing employee and payroll data manually is tedious and time-consuming. Unfortunately, the impact of this excessive manual work may be more difficult to spot compared to hard numbers in sales departments. However:

Wasted time in HR has a long-term impact on your company’s profitability, especially at a time when retaining and engaging employees can be extremely hard.

Engagement is a good indicator of how motivated your employees are to stay at your organization. Engagement is also related to employee productivity and the company’s profitability.

Therefore, your HR should focus on your employees. HR should focus on building a happier workplace where “employee turnover” and “quiet quitting” sound like foreign words.

To reduce manual work and paperwork in HR, consider creating a payroll master file for automation. It will free up time for strategic HR activities and boosting employee engagement.

Mitigating the Great Resignation: practical solutions for HR departments

Replacing every employee who leaves is expensive. Quiet quitting also comes at a cost.

Thus, it’s worth improving employee retention and employee engagement. Mitigate the Great Resignation and quiet quitting with these practical recommendations.

#1. Make employee engagement part of your long-term HR strategy

Engage your employees throughout the whole year. Build a great company culture that focuses on mental health. Regularly recognize, appreciate, and celebrate your staff.

Little actions done regularly can have a disproportionate impact on employee experience. Every month counts and offers opportunities to show your employees that you care.

The HR Calendar 2023 we’ve mentioned includes a variety of events for every month so you can choose the ones that fit your organization best and that your employees will simply love.

#2. Treat your staff holistically

Make sure your employees are satisfied with what and how they get paid, but also show that you value them as people. Recognize their personal interests, passions, goals, dreams, and struggles.

Organize events to celebrate your staff whether in a physical or virtual setting. It’s one of the elements within HR that you can control and that can have an enormous impact on employee retention.

#3. Give employees the right work-life balance

Nowadays many employees are deserting jobs they don’t enjoy, where they don’t feel respected, or where the work doesn’t fit in with their personal lives. They’ve also stopped tolerating emotional and physical exhaustion and want to feel positive about their time at work.

Therefore, make sure your employees are satisfied with their careers and workplaces by providing the flexibility they need to balance their work and personal lives.

#4. Communicate your broader company mission

Make sure your employees feel connected to the company’s mission, values, and goals.

Ensure they have a good understanding of their individual contribution to the success of the whole organization.

#5. Consider posting salaries publicly and sharing pay ranges for all positions

Transparent payroll can help reduce turnover and spur motivation. Employees will be more excited about receiving training and learning new skills, which can also increase productivity.

#6. Remember about the basics

… like getting your payday right. Like never before, employees value work-life balance, flexible schedules, advancement potential, and the ability to work remotely. However, compensation is still the most crucial factor for employees.

#7. Send regular surveys to your employees

Use employee surveys to determine their level of motivation, engagement and satisfaction with their employer.

#8. Implement modern HR & payroll technology

Start using modern HR & payroll technology, if you haven’t already. Organize your work more efficiently and effectively, and reduce manual, repetitive tasks. As a result, you’ll free up significant amounts of time for engaging and taking care of your employees.

HR statistics: breakdown of HR automations (chart)
HR statistics: Global HR software market 2020-2028 (chart)

The Great Resignation vs. flexibility in the workplace

Flexibility is a top factor that could prevent employees from leaving an employer. Thus, many employers cite flexible workplaces as their top retention strategy. They’ve started experimenting with different solutions to address labor shortages.

For instance, to make jobs more appealing, some retailers offered to pay store workers daily rather than weekly. To provide flexible pay like that, a flexible payroll solution is a must.

Many employees want their salaries on demand. Paying your employees once per month is outdated and can negatively impact employee retention.

Piotr Smolen, Co-Founder at Symmetrical

Flexibility is also required when you expand globally and hire remote employees. For this, you need a flexible system to ensure you:

  • Accommodate employees from different locations
  • Stay on top of the latest employment regulations, taxes, and policy changes in different countries
  • Stay compliant at all times so you avoid fines and penalties

The Great Resignation vs. payroll processing

In the Great Resignation era, many people are experimenting with alternative forms of employment. Many are exploring opportunities in the growing gig economy sector (a.k.a. digital platform work).

Digital platform work growth

As a result, nowadays we’re increasingly dealing with payroll transfers that are more complicated than regular monthly transfers. This has implications for HR and payroll, especially in fast-growing startups.

For instance, consider the complexity of calculating:

  • Pay for freelancers, hourly employees, or frontline workers earning different amounts at different times
  • Bonuses, overtime pay, commissions, deductions, and vacations
  • Flexible pay when employees want access to their earnings whenever they need it

As a result:

  • Payroll admins have more to keep track of when calculating pay.
  • It’s much easier to make payroll errors than ever before.

In complex payroll cases, many things can go wrong. Unfortunately, it often takes only 2 payroll errors for an employee to start looking for another job.

49% of US workers will start looking for a new job after experiencing only 2 problems with their paycheck.

The Workforce Institute, Kronos Incorporated

Thus, miscalculating pay is a real issue: it doesn’t matter whether it’s about employees on permanent contracts or freelancers, contractors, and so on.

Miscalculating pay can result in:

  • Employee dissatisfaction and lost trust in the workplace
  • Low employee engagement and retention
  • High costs
  • Poor reputation: being perceived as a financially unstable employer with poor (payroll) management
  • Difficulties in attracting new talent

Still, companies paying their employees late and/or incorrectly is common.

How to minimize payroll expenses and mistakes? Download our FREE guide to find out!

Payroll Mistakes: FREE Guide

How to avoid payroll mistakes in the Great Resignation: 7 practical solutions

Here are some recommendations to help you avoid payroll mistakes.

  1. Streamline your payroll process: make sure your system works smoothly, and is flexible.
  2. Take care of your payroll documentation: ensure your payroll admins have all the necessary information and data to handle the payroll process properly.
  3. Solve payroll problems and errors promptly to avoid penalties. If necessary, report them to relevant entities.
  4. Do your best to prevent payroll errors: stay on top of payroll-related processes and deadlines using reliable payroll services and/or systems.
  5. Solve payroll problems before running payroll: run a few key reports (e.g. deductions summary) before processing payroll so you catch and prevent mistakes.
  6. Create a payroll checklist (for yourself and your administrators) to keep track of all the process steps.
  7. Use automation and AI for better data collection and decision-making: analyze key data and identify HR trends as well as pain points. Address issues proactively, and remember there’s a strong link between payroll and HR (data).

Do your best to spot payroll errors before they happen. Using human eyes alone for this may be too risky.

Read the full article to learn precisely how to avoid payroll mistakes.

Payroll technology in the Great Resignation

Complex payroll cases require flexible systems and technology capable of handling multiple variables, as well as systems that address modern complexities and can process the fast-changing payroll data. That said:

It’s worth investing in payroll technology to get your payday right. You’ll increase employee satisfaction, which is essential in the Great Resignation.

Do you employ freelancers and other gig workers? Remember that it’s a deal breaker for many gig workers if they don’t get paid almost immediately. The effectiveness of payroll processes has an enormous impact on that.

Symmetrical’s payroll solution can benefit the gig sector and significantly reduce waiting time for pay. As financial liquidity is important for all employees, this significantly improves employee satisfaction.

It’s also important that you manage employee records effectively, especially if you have high employee rotation. Inputting and updating payroll data manually is tedious and can also result in errors, costly penalties and other repercussions.

HR & payroll technology vs. employee retention

The significance of technology in HR and payroll is growing. For example, nowadays employees expect self-service capabilities: they want to have access to essential documents like payslips and own their personal information.

HR statistics: automated HR process growth (chart)
HR statistics: automation growth (chart)

Therefore, make sure you offer employees a positive onboarding and workplace experience. If you have poor processes, this may lead to a negative workplace environment, problems with employee retention, and a bad employer reputation.

As a result, for better talent attraction and retention as well as keeping business costs down, you need a modern and reliable HR and payroll system.

Furthermore, automation and AI can help you improve core processes and interact with employees. It can help you with specific (usually repetitive) tasks so you have more time for those that require the human touch. This is essential in the time of the Great Resignation.

Thus, consider automated payroll. It can help attract and retain talent by:

  • Getting the basics right, like paying your staff accurately, on time, and with full payslip information
  • Automating data entry so you can focus on boosting employee engagement
  • Giving employees both more flexibility and control over when and how they get paid with tools like self-service payroll or salaries-on-demand

Technology can’t replace the human touch and human interactions. However, it can help make work more human by freeing up time for what matters.

Payroll mistakes guide: download now

HR and payroll vs. the Great Resignation: conclusion

Today employee engagement and retention is the top challenge for many HR departments. One solution is more innovation and automation. Payroll is one area that can be a game changer.

Effective payroll processes will help you make time for the things that count. By automating repetitive tasks, you can be there for your employees when they need you. Thus, automation can improve employee satisfaction and retention.

Symmetrical offers easy, automated payroll services with the support of a dedicated team of payroll experts to help you:

  • Put an end to payroll and HR chaos by automating tedious tasks such as manual data entries or calculations
  • Hire and pay people in a cheaper, easier, and more automated way
  • Connect all your HR-related systems and integrate them into one automated process

The right payroll solution, i.e. automation combined with expert support, makes things easier. Ready to take your payroll (and business) to the next level?


HR and the Great Resignation
How to Tackle U.S. Employees’ Stagnating Engagement
8 Must-Have Benefits of Automated Payroll
How Global Payroll Can Meet the Challenges of the Great Resignation
The Great Discontent: 2021 Worker Survey (US)
8 Definite Benefits Of An Automated Payroll System
6 Ways Global Payroll Can Meet the Challenges of the Great Resignation
What to Expect Post the Great Resignation in 2023
Automated Payroll: Benefits
HR automation in 2023
69% of UK workers ready to move job
Is salary important to workers?
The Risks of Poor Payroll for Businesses
Top 5 Ways Payroll Automation Will Benefit Your Business
7 Ways Payroll Automation Is Beneficial for HR
How to Prevent Common Payroll Processing Mistakes
The Great Resignation has 53% of HR pros burned out