The Great Resignation or The Great Vacation… Fact or Fiction?

If you guessed Fact, you are right! People are changing the way they think about work.

Gone are the days where we would finish school with the crushing pressure of choosing the career that would see us through to retirement. Things are different now, and people may have had three or four different types of careers by the time they reach the time to start winding down.

The hairdressing and beauty industries are experiencing the greatest shortage that we’ve ever seen, with people still considering whether they can see themselves as a therapist, barber or hairdresser for the foreseeable future. 

With the much anticipated ‘great resignation’ that is expected to continue throughout 2022, what can business owners do to prepare themselves for what’s to come?

We asked Gry Tomte, owner and director of HÜD Skin & Body, a multi-award-winning clinic in Melbourne with a huge focus on team engagement and purpose-driven leadership, about how the great resignation has impacted her.

“We had two therapists leave last year,” Gry tells. “One left for another clinic and the other left to start a career in recruitment. Seven lockdowns in two years gave people time to reflect on whether they’re fully aligned with their purpose – or the purpose of the business they’re working in.”

There are two types of resignations to prepare for in 2022:

1 – The resignation where the employee has decided to leave and move on to another clinic or salon, often a competitor;


2 – The resignation where the employee has decided to leave the industry all together.

Gry has experienced both.

“It was hard at the time – I won’t lie. I’d supported them through eight months of lockdowns and did everything I could to make sure they were okay, both financially and mentally, and that they kept growing both as professionals and as people. The initial, reactive part of me was a bit upset,” she says.

Not an uncommon reaction from an employer.

“Once I made it to neutral and got to reflect properly, I could be happy for them. Ultimately, we want people to be happy and thriving. And if they’re not doing what they love and want something different, then I’m fully supportive of that.”

It can be tempting to put your walls up with an employee when they have decided to move on, however ‘boomerang employees’ are not uncommon in the hairdressing and beauty industries.

Many people desperately miss their clients and choose to return to the industry after a stint trying something different, and a harmonious resignation and notice period helps ensure they might consider returning back to YOU.

But how do we prevent resignations in the first place?

Gry has made it a priority to focus on engaging her employees with their purpose, even throughout the lockdown periods.

“At HÜD, we have built such an amazing team culture of constant support and helping each other be better; it’s something I’m really proud of,” Gry offers. “But even still, we are seeing more people reconsidering their work/life balance, their distance to and from work, their purpose and also the environment they spend their days in. There are some things you can control, and some you can’t.

“You can’t move your business closer to someone’s house, you can’t always change rosters around to accommodate better work/life balance, and you won’t always be able to stave off the idea of ‘I wonder what else is out there’…”

Having strategies in place to manage what you CAN control is important. Implementing formal exit interviews to ascertain why exactly an employee has decided to move on is a great strategy for finding out your areas for improvement in the future. Opening up your communication with employees through regular and scheduled one-on-ones will provide you with insights into how engaged they are with their position, and you may even be able to prevent a resignation before it happens.

“When people leave, we always examine the reasons and what we can improve on, whether it’s a process, culture, opportunities or communication,” Gry says. “This constant examining, re-tweaking and learning is a huge part of our internal culture success.”