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The ‘Great Resignation’, from an entirely remote company’s perspective

A record number of people are leaving their jobs. It’s a phenomenon being called ‘The Great Resignation’, where more workers are planning to leave their jobs than ever before.

Some are pointing to the slow move to flexible or remote working as the main culprit. While on the other hand, some businesses have ignored this entirely and adopted the tactic of moving everyone right back into the office and returning to business as usual. (As a remote business, we don’t comply with this!)

Nevertheless, businesses are currently experiencing an exodus of talent. And on top of that, they’re having just as much trouble filling those empty seats.

Last updated

18 Aug 2022

Reading time

7 min


People want more from their employers

And it seems to be more than just employees not wanting to work in an office all week. During the pandemic, some companies made cuts to pay, reduced their workforce and placed a lot of that extra responsibility and workload on those left behind.

Now the dust is starting to settle, and the economy is growing again, these same people may now be taking a look back at their employers and rethinking how they were treated. As we’re about to find out, there are several reasons why someone might want to leave, not all of them related to where they’re working.

Here at Hotjar, it’s been a different story. Working remotely since we were set up in 2014, the discovery has been that our people (or, Hotjarians as we call them) have showed us they value an employer and team that cares about them and treats them with respect.

Our Director of People, Emma Atkins, has watched the pandemic unfold with an eye on how it affects people at work. In the spirit of one of our values – to build trust with transparency – we sat down with her to ask if she could share some ideas on how companies must adapt to keep their team engaged as the world around them changes.

"We don’t want to be compared with industry averages, we’re always competing with our past selves."

Has Hotjar experienced a ‘great resignation’?

Emma: Resignations at Hotjar this year are not higher than they were in previous years. So we’ve not seen a big impact there. However, our concerns are that a higher proportion of people who are leaving have been here for over 3 years which is a change we’re investigating..

Across the tech industry, employee turnover is around 18.3% globally. At Hotjar, it’s currently 14%, so we’re below the average. Which is of course positive, but that’s the thing with Hotjar, we don’t want to be compared with industry averages, we’re always competing with our past selves.

We understand people leave companies for all sorts of reasons, and it’s not something we can fully control. What we do is look at where a resignation may indicate we have work to do, for example to improve communication within a department or make compensation more competitive, to name a few.

Have you had to adjust your approach to talent?

Emma: Ha, who hasn’t?! ‘The great resignation’ has a knock on effect I’m calling ‘The great war for talent’. It’s always been a challenge to find the right people at the right time, and this has only gotten worse. It’s very tight in the labor market right now. That’s what I’m concerned about, filling the positions we have open today, making sure we welcome the right people.

"The 'Great Resignation' has a knock on effect I’m calling 'The great war for talent'."

Why is talent harder to find now?

Emma: A lot of companies made people redundant at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and some companies stopped hiring altogether. Some saw very positive results as a result of the shift in buying behaviors resulting from lockdowns and social distancing, then hired a lot of people and offered roles to those who may have been let go in the first months of the crisis. Conversations with other people leaders and talent acquisition specialists are telling me there are more vacancies out there than people to fill them, the demand for talent has increased. It’s a very competitive market right now!

As an interesting note, Hotjar didn’t let anyone go during the pandemic or as a result of it, they hunkered down, opened up their finances to the company and promised to keep everyone in the team for as long as possible.

It also seems tech is the exception, not the rule. On the whole, tech jobs (in the UK, at least) were not as impacted as others during the pandemic. And have steadily been on the rise regardless of outside factors. Average tech salaries are up to 50% higher than the average vacancy in general, while salaries from other parts of society have been sliding down.

Is it resignation or a ‘renaissance’?

Wunderman Thompson highlights the impact of the ‘Black Death’ on Europe in the 1300s helped to create the conditions for the Renaissance. We’re seeing some similar traits as we navigate the storms of coronavirus as we reevaluate work, what it means to work and how people want to work.

Put simply, can you think of another time in modern history or even within our lifetime, where the attitude towards jobs and work has become so obviously different to what it was?

According to a recent survey, 41% of people say they’re considering leaving their job because their company has not ‘cared’ about their concerns during the pandemic.** Do you have an inkling about what that might mean?

Emma: If you were not treated with respect as an employee over the last few years and you’re looking at your world now, seeing that the economy is a little more stable, I’d imagine you’d probably be starting to look at your options and figuring out if there’s another company that would treat you with more dignity.

At Hotjar, there was a lot of leading by example, being vulnerable, being open during that first lockdown. We were seeing parents experiment with balancing their work and childcare. Some said to the rest of us: “this will be a first, where we figure out how to work while caring for two or three children.” There was honesty from both Hotjar and the parents themselves: “God, this was going to be rough.”

"There was honesty from both Hotjar and the parents themselves: 'God, this was going to be rough.'”

Some say it goes beyond companies just adopting ‘remote work’ and in particular becoming more ‘people centric’, could you shed some light on that?

Emma: I wholly agree! Hotjar consistently shows amazing examples of people centric leadership. I don’t know of another company that has always made all their financial data available to their whole team as Hotjar does. So during this crisis, anyone who worked at Hotjar could see the numbers and trust that we were going to be OK giving that transparency. 

In August our Exec team discussed struggling with workload, anxiety about travel after staying home, and suddenly having a social life again. We talked about how we could support our team in this new phase of the pandemic – fatigue. Our CEO Mohannad said “We will never be a company which pays a human cost for success”. I’ll be honest, I shed a tear. I was so grateful to hear our newly appointed CEO talk with such conviction about how Hotjar will ALWAYS put it’s people first. 

What we’re seeing is people who want to travel, learn, give back, celebrate, grow! Employers that design for this are getting loyalty back from their team that the traditional People (HR) Leaders of bygone days could have only dreamed of!

There is a Dutch word ‘Zingeving’, which means ‘things that give meaning’. I think we all need to make room for more of that in our lives, both inside and outside of work. Hotjar’s approach is to give space to our team to build the life they want to live, in harmony with their work, not squash it into the hours around work!

"Our CEO Mohannad said 'We will never be a company which pays a human cost for success'. I’ll be honest, I shed a tear."

Do you think these attitudes filter down to customers, and the sorts of brands and groups of people they want to interact with in the future?

Emma: For sure! In the past decade I’ve seen a huge shift in the level of consciousness across various consumer markets. For example, Certified B Corporations and carbon negative credentials are a big influence on certain subgroups of consumers right now. It stretches to choices for investments, and even pension funds. I’m so pleased to see employers think not just about their charitable giving and their carbon footprint, but also the way they treat the people in their own teams.

Recently, we were chatting about changing banks. I was asking for opinions in the group about a bank I was considering switching to, but another member of the Hotjar team mentioned they’d heard they didn’t treat their employees well, and that made me think twice. I did more research, chose an alternative, and how they treat their team ultimately cost that bank a new customer. I’ve started looking up the brands I buy from on Glassdoor, too. You can check testimonials about how people working in a certain company feel about the company itself. That’s something I didn’t do ten years ago!

"I’m so pleased to see employers think not just about their charitable giving and their carbon footprint, but also the way they treat the people in their own teams."

The customer is always right

What has become clear through the changing landscape of work in the 2020s, is customers are taking note when brands show empathy and walk the talk of putting their people first. By understanding our own people and teams, we’re closer to understanding our customers and users too. We’re all human after all.

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