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Big quit: does the great resignation affect France?

In 2021, 48 million Americans requested the termination of their employment contract. The magnitude of this movement is such that it has been given a name: The Big Quit, the Great Resignation. How is this Great Resignation explained? Is France affected by the phenomenon? Is it worrying or on the contrary rather positive?

Why do we speak of the Great Resignation?

In 2020, London psychologist and academic Anthony Klotz coined the term Great Resignation, anticipating a massive flight of workers into the post-covid job market. And Anthony was right, since in 2021, the United States experienced historic waves of resignations with more than 48 million employee departures, knowing that 40% had no job at the end. Industry, trade, services, civil service, the wage revolution is taking place in all sectors of activity.

According to Anthony Klotz, there are 4 explanations for this phenomenon:

  • Those who wanted to quit before the start of the pandemic were waiting for the lockdown to pass to do so.
  • Employees have taken a step back from their job and their state of professional exhaustion. “The generalized burnout” has, according to him, pushed them to leave their jobs.
  • The covid crisis has given you time to ask yourself questions, review your relationship to work and the meaning you want to give it and consider a career change more in line with your aspirations.
  • Remote work has given employees a taste for freedom and autonomy.

How does the big quit affect France?

France is affected by the great resignation

At the beginning of 2022, there were 520,000 resignations at the national level per quarter (cdd and cdi), according to Dares. 470,000 were on permanent contracts. The rate is high but not unprecedented when we compare these figures to the peak of resignation after the 2008 crisis. French companies are also facing requests for conventional termination of the employment contract, with a record figure of 454,000 terminations in 2021.

Resignations or agreed terminations

When we talk about the Great Resignation in France, employees have opted for two ways of breaking employment contracts.

The conventional break

Since 2008, labor law has allowed conventional termination, a mode of termination of contract that can be at the initiative of the employer or the employee. When chosen, it requires the employer or employee to complete a termination agreement on the Ministry of Labor website: TéléRC. On the other hand, the signing of an agreement must be made by both parties. The administrative authority then has an instruction period of 15 working days from receipt of your request to approve it or not. The employee who benefits from an agreement of this type then receives:

  • specific compensation. The amount of the specific termination indemnity is calculated according to the employee's salary and seniority.
  • unemployment benefits (within 7 working days once you have registered as a jobseeker with the PĂŽle Emploi).
  • a Compensatory Indemnity for Paid Leave (ICCP) if they have not been taken before the end of the contract.

Resignation

For the resignation it is a little different, it is at the initiative of the employee, who can make the request orally or via a letter of resignation. Departure is subject to a notice period that depends on seniority in the company and the terms of the employment contract. Upon termination, the employer then gives the employee one of the copies of the receipt for settlement of any account. The employee does not normally receive compensation from the company, but can receive state aid under certain conditions:

  • employees who have worked continuously for 5 years can benefit from Return to Employment Allowances (ARE) following a resignation with a
  • view to creating or taking over a business.

PĂŽle Emploi also gives the right to unemployment benefits after 4 months, in the event of resignation considered legitimate by the unemployment insurance scheme.

Big Quit, what next?

Admittedly, the increasing labor needs in certain sectors may seem worrying. But is it really positive to achieve full employment when the majority of human capital does not feel good at work? Waves of resignations are a phenomenon linked to the context of the labor market.

A conducive environment for job search

Labor supply and demand are currently playing a role in this Great Resignation. The number of unemployed people in France being down and the employment rate up, employees weigh more in the balance of power at present. Moreover, the very fact that the Biq Quit did not generate an increase in the number of unemployed is rather positive and indicates that many have retrained. In 2021 in France, 49% of the active population had considered, initiated or carried out a retraining.

Employees, in search of better working conditions


The reasons for departures are also rooted in a very different context from that of 2008. Employees are looking for well-being, flexibility and a balance between professional and personal life. Hiring a qualified workforce is difficult in certain sectors after the covid, such as the hotel and catering industry, construction or home help. In question: hours, precariousness, managerial conditions, remuneration. The departures thus show the refusal of the employees to continue to suffer at work.


And in search of meaning

In a worrying climatic context, employees are also in search of meaning. In the media, we have heard a lot about the resignations of young graduates, ready to do without interesting salaries to make a professional retraining and find meaning or have a positive impact on society. For the collective "you are not alone", which helps employees of large companies to leave their jobs, desertion is even a political act. It is a way to “build the aftermath”, a world more united and more committed to ecological transition.

Like all crises, this Great Resignation can be the trigger for societal changes. More listening to the needs of employees on the part of employers, professional integration oriented towards others and towards structures that meet the major challenges of our time: ecological and social.

If you yourself are tempted by the big quit and you are looking to give more meaning to your work, we advise you to: