SYDNEY, AAP – Bosses should be prepared to do the hard yards to make their staff feel included in the workplace, or face falling victim to ‘the great resignation’.

As a falling unemployment rate tightens the labour market, staff also want a “sense of purpose” and to feel their organisation is having a “positive impact”, UNSW Business School deputy dean Nick Wailes says.

A ‘great resignation’ could happen in Australia, as the number of people looking for work fell to 4.2 per cent in December, Professor Wailes said on Tuesday.

The unemployment rate is at its lowest point since 2008, and that means workers in NSW, Victoria and other states will push for “an inclusive workplace which promotes more satisfied employees”.

Comfortable work environments where people feel they can flourish were important to workers before the COVID-19 pandemic, and will continue to be for years after, he says.

“Decades of research has shown that while money matters, it is not the most important thing,” Prof Wailes said.

“Most importantly, employees want to feel included and that they belong in the workplace.

“The onus is now on employers to create environments in which their workers can flourish.”

Recent Treasury analysis found Australia is going through a “great reshuffle” as opposed to a “great resignation”, meaning workers are resigning from their jobs after finding a better employment opportunity.

More than one million workers started new jobs in the three months to November 2021, almost 10 per cent more than the average before COVID-19 – a trend observed across all industries.

There is not enough data yet to suggest a great resignation is taking place in Australia.

However, Prof Wailes believes the trend will emerge this year as lockdowns ease and people take stock of their options.

Leaders in professional industries including management consulting have highlighted that retaining staff is a “critical challenge for them now and into the future”.