Three franchise experts discuss how the Great Resignation could impact UK franchising after millions of people reassess their careers post-COVID
If the coronavirus pandemic taught us one thing, it is that there is more to life than work. With millions of lives irreversibly upended, people adapted to new, more flexible ways of working, which meant they had plenty of time to reevaluate their careers.
“How we spent our time before the pandemic may not be how we want to spend our time after,” said US academic Anthony Klotz. In May 2021, he predicted the pandemic would lead to pent-up resignations, with increased flexibility being at the core of the changes. And indeed, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that over 47 million Americans voluntarily quit their jobs in 2021, spurred on by Covid-19.
Klotz even coined the term ‘Great Resignation’ to describe the exodus of people from the job market following the pandemic. And although the UK hasn’t seen the same max exit from the workforce, lockdowns gave Brits enough time to realise their current job wasn’t fulfilling enough.
According to new research commissioned by leading employee benefits provider Unum UK, nearly a fifth of the UK workforce (19 per cent) plan to look for new jobs in 2023 with higher salaries or better employee benefits. The study suggests that the current cost of living crisis could spark the ‘Great Resignation’ of 2023, with 16 per cent (4.5 million people) considering taking a second job to make ends meet.
Tired of feeling burned out and in search of a better work-life balance, career changers are more inspired than ever to set up their own business. But this allows you to look at the Great Resignation through a more positive lens – the world of franchising. With tested models, support from headquarters and lower-risk investments, franchising could save you from resigning yourself to another year of career disappointment.
Finding the silver lining
Amrit Dhaliwal, chief executive of homecare services franchise Walfinch, thinks the pandemic has prompted not just the Great Resignation but a much more fundamental change – the Great Realisation.
“Millions of people are realising that being a cog in an employer’s wheel is not the only way to make a living,” Amrit says. “Another world is possible, where they are the boss. The need for fulfilment and desire to be themselves at work (both cited by a PwC survey as underlying reasons for people wanting to change jobs) are fundamental to the Great Realisation.”
Having been a care sector franchisee prior to starting Walfinch, Amrit is convinced that the homecare sector delivers the fulfilment and reward that more people are seeking now. “In the care sector, you can be certain that you benefit the people in your community. Our 26 franchisees across the country feel the same.
“We have the systems to help you achieve a better work-life balance to counter burnout, which is rife among employees, and we provide training and business coaching.”
The perfect storm for franchising
The Great Resignation has opened a pool of franchisors, franchisees, and employees – all with diverse transferable skills who are ready to take a leap of faith and launch their business.
As Suzie McCafferty, founder and CEO of Platinum Wave Franchising says, whether or not this Great Resignation actually translates into more people purchasing a franchise remains to be seen. But the coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly spurred up a clear interest in self-employment as a means to securing a more balanced lifestyle.
“Before the pandemic, a significant number of people insisted that the only way a meeting could be successful was face-to-face, that you couldn’t manage a team remotely, that if you let your staff work from home they’d watch TV all day,” says Suzie. “Then Covid hit, Zoom arrived, and suddenly it turned out lots of businesses worked just fine without all the ridged structures they previously assumed critical.”
Suzie believes that the worse the external economic factors are, the more reasons there are to choose franchising over setting up a new business by yourself – there’s never a good time to buy a bad franchise or one you are completely unsuited for – but if you really want to break out of employment and do something for yourself, then franchising is the way to go.
“It’s your business to grow and make money from and develop into a valuable asset for your future, just like your own independent business would be – but with franchising, you get training, ongoing support, a proven business model and statistically a far better chance of long-term success,” adds Suzie.
Why choose franchising?
For Emily Price QFP, COO of the British Franchise Association (bfa), one of the biggest drives to franchising is that it allows you to take control of the future.
“Franchising has developed over the years to provide a significant return for those that commit and aspire to grow within a brand or across a portfolio,” she explains. “We are seeing more multi-generational examples of franchisees and people owning multiple franchise businesses under one brand or even expanding across multi brands. With the sector being so diverse, there really is something for everyone, from teaching kids to swim, to home renovations, to accountancy services.”
The 2018 bfa NatWest Franchise Survey has shown that the franchising industry is growing more than ever before, contributing £17.2 billion per year to UK GDP, employing 710,000 people, with 93 per cent of franchisees claiming profitability and less than one per cent of franchisors closing per year due to commercial failure.
“There are definitely more people on the market, however, people are also expecting more from their employers these days,” adds Emily. “For franchisors and franchisees that have a strong vision and people strategy, they will have the opportunity to attract some fantastic candidates. No longer do people want to be valued as a number, they want to be part of a team.
“Franchising has the opportunity to present great development across a network, we are seeing franchisor staff developing into franchisees themselves and many networks introducing their own leadership and support programmes to help grow talent internally.”
Retaining your team
It is important to note that even franchises are not immune to the challenges of the Great Resignation – be that the loss of staff, burden on existing team members, business continuity and recruitment. This is why franchisors need to take extra care to ensure their franchisees feel valued and supported every step of the way.
“Recruitment is resource heavy in time and cost, it is critical that franchisors ensure they hire based on not just skills but attitude and shared values,” adds Emily.
“Once onboard, communicate a strong vision, share a strong plan for delivery and ensure the colleague is really brought in and understands how they contribute to that.
“It is more important now than ever that as plans change, they are communicated. As the business evolves, the people must do so too, and so the process should be a collective one that engages teams at every level and takes them on the journey. Allow people to feel heard and invest in training and support to break down barriers and provide growth opportunities.”
The lack of career and financial advancement is one of the main reasons why people change jobs and go down the self-employment route. So, investing in people power and your employees’ growth could indeed be crucial to retaining your top-performing talent.
According to a 2022 research by IRIS Software Group (IRIS), in partnership with YouGov, nearly half (47 per cent) of employees said they don’t see a clear path to progression. The study also found that three-quarters (68 per cent) of UK employees are facing delayed career growth due to a lack of support from their line managers and HR teams.
And that’s the truth about franchising – it can satisfy your appetite for learning and personal development, but also offer you ongoing support, a proven business model, national marketing and being part of a network with like-minded individuals.
“We’ve seen franchisees grow in five to 10 years from first-time business owners learning the ropes to confident leaders and employers with a range of business interests and investments, and seats on boards and charities,” adds Suzie.
“Buying a franchise can be just the first step in what becomes an incredibly rewarding career both in and out of the network.
“Many van-based franchises have shifted their models in recent years from having a franchisee for every territory to finding a higher calibre of franchisee who embarks on a path of growth from day one that takes them from one man in one van to one man with a team of support staff and numerous employees running a fleet of vans out servicing multiple territories. You can see this happening across a lot of different sectors now.
“We’ve always known that people eventually stagnate when left in their comfort zones for too long – now we’re just better at keeping everyone moving and growing.“
Opening a franchise has become a logical next step for workers who have outgrown their nine-to-five jobs – it’s a great way to go if you are interested in being your own boss while minimising the risk of starting a business on your own. So, who knows? The Great Resignation might indeed turn out to be the Great Realisation and the beginning of a new era of franchising.
Emily’s checklist before investing in a franchise
- Is this franchise going to provide me with a secure income to support myself or my family?
- Am I suited to the work required to build this business and make it successful with the franchisor’s support?
- Are the long-term benefits aligned with my long-term goals?
- Do I have support from my family?
- Are the franchisor’s values, goals and objectives aligned with my own?
Viktoria Yordanova is a staff writer for What Franchise magazine.