The Effects of the Great Resignation on the AM Hiring Landscape

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The AM industry is no stranger to the term ‘The Great Resignation’, a term first coined by professor of Business Administration, Anthony Klotz, who predicted that mass resignations would follow the height of the pandemic. 2021 was a year of change as the industry experienced economic recovery, surpassing the projected market value of $11.4bn in 2020 by $1.4bn (source: HUBS 2021 Additive Manufacturing Trend Report).

Last year, in the 2021 Additive Manufacturing Salary Survey Report from Alexander Daniels Global, a reported 33% of professionals in 2020 were ‘Extremely Likely’ to change jobs in the next 12 months. As predicted, 37% in the US and 34% in EMEA did in fact change jobs in 2021 (source: 2022 AM Salary Survey Report).

Furthermore, the 2022 AM Salary Survey Report documented and published data on the 2021 AM industry turnover, revealing that the industry saw a record low rate of turnover at 6% in the EMEA region and a matching 7% in the US in 2020 compared with the 34% and 37% respectively in 2021. This signified a stagnation in the market in 2020, creating a ‘bottleneck’ effect with professionals waiting for the market to regain stability before making a career move.

This ‘bottleneck’ effect reached its peak as the economy recovered in 2021 – with a build up of change waiting to happen – we saw how many of our colleagues made career moves, and the industry was hit by a tidal wave of Mergers and Acquisitions (M&As).

Leading to the Great Resignation

What was it that led to the mass resignations that characterized the ‘Great Resignation’? This phenomenon can be categorized by the following trends:

  1. A Backlog of Resignations
    Firstly, and perhaps most obviously, was the uncertainty caused by the pandemic. Many changed their career plans, and those who were planning to quit held on to the employment they had in order to maintain a level of certainty through this crisis. Less people resigned from their jobs, which we saw through the record low percentage of industry turnover in 2020. In welcoming 2021, rebuilding the economy and pushing the industry forward, opportunities reopened for people to pursue the next steps in their career. That backlog of resignations from 2020 resulted in a flood of professionals re-entering the job market, which is reflected in the impressive 33% of AM professionals who changed job in 2021 – worldwide.
  2. Peak Levels of Burnout
    Stories of frontline workers facing long hours and difficult conditions during the pandemic, are not foreign to any of us. There were record-levels of burnout in parents, who were often juggling educating their children while working remotely, and there were reports of burnout in organizational leaders trying to manage their work, their teams and their own personal lives through the pandemic. Burnout is a predictor of turnover: The way to deal with burnout is to get away from its source. Working professionals needed a break, and many probably didn’t have the ability to take a month or more off to take care of their mental health.
  3. The Freedom of Working from Home
    Through the pandemic, we saw an experiment on a massive global scale take place. Millions of professionals have gone through a year or more of working from home (WFH). While there are pros and cons to WFH, many experienced the positive effects of the increased autonomy that this solution offered. As such, with more remote work opportunities opening up due to organizations also changing their approach to work, many professionals will have been in a better situation to start considering all the options available to them.
  4. Early Retirement & Bridge Employment
    Anthony Klotz found that many of the people who opted to resign in 2021 were approximately 5 years away from retirement. Having spent a year or more working from home, and now faced with the possibility of needing to return to office work and the standard 9 to 5, caused people to reflect on how they would like to spend the next years of their life. Some opted for early retirement, while others decided to enter into bridge employment as a change from the daily grind of life.

The Impacts on the Industry

Founder and CEO of Alexander Daniels Global, Nick Pearce, said,

“With over a third of the workforce changing jobs in 2021 and no growth in the number of AM professionals in Europe and only a 13% increase in the US [as reported in the 2022 AM Salary Survey Report], the pool of candidates from which to hire is smaller and demand is only growing! As a result, I predict that 2022 will prove a very difficult year to hire experienced AM professionals and that hiring will take longer.”

As 1/3 of the workforce changed jobs in 2021, competition for talent is expected to be fierce in 2022. Retention hiring strategies will become essential for companies and even greater emphasis may need to be placed on creating welcoming, inclusive work environments and company cultures. Furthermore, we may see salaries starting to increase as hiring managers compete for the best talent, and trends of the past will return where candidates hold more power in contract negotiations. In an industry that already suffers with a talent shortage, it will become evermore crucial for hiring managers to ‘up the ante’ with their approach to hiring, and collaboration with recruitment companies may even become essential.

Want more useful information?

Join Alexander Daniels Global for their upcoming webinar where the effects of the Great Resignation are discussed in more detail, with supporting data as published in the 2022 AM Salary Survey Report, and tips for what can be done to improve retention hiring strategies. Register to save your seat for the virtual event by March 23.

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