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HSBC and Barclays reveal the reality of the great resignation

How great was the great resignation of 2021? According to the annual reports of both Barclays and HSBC, released last week, it wasn't quite as dramatic as some complaints might suggest. 

At Barclays last year, 11% of employees left voluntarily. This may have come as a shock compared to the 6% of employees who left of their own accords at the height of the pandemic in 2020, but it was hardly a big deal compared to the 10% of employees who left voluntarily in 2019.

Something similar seems to have been afoot at HSBC. There, 12.7% of employees left voluntarily in 2021, up from 7.7% in 2020. HSBC didn't reveal its voluntary turnover in previous years, but 12.7% doesn't sound that critical - particularly given that the bank was subject to elevated resignations in 2021 after awarding poor bonuses (for which it is making amends this year).

With slightly more staff leaving than previously, it might be expected that both HSBC and Barclays would have increased graduate hiring to make amends. However, there was little sign of this taking place. Instead, Barclays cut its graduate intake from 961 in 2020 to 851 last year. HSBC kept its graduate recruits constant at 650 in both years.

It's notable that both banks hired fewer graduates in 2021 than before the pandemic. Barclays hired 900 graduates in 2019; HSBC hired 860.

If the two banks weren't hiring more graduates to fill the gaps created by resignations, who were they hiring? The answer may well be no one - staff exits create an opportunity to cut costs. Both banks were prioritizing diversity recruits, though. At HSBC, for example, nearly 38% of senior roles filled externally went to women last year, up from nearly 32% in 2020.  

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Photo by Junseong Lee on Unsplash

AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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