What Is the “Great Resignation” Trend?

Great Resignation

The pandemic might have triggered the “great resignation”—but there is so much more besides that.

When Covid-19 first broke out, employees were worried about losing their jobs, and we’ve seen companies closing down or shrinking in scale to survive the economic downturn. But now, it seems like employers are in a predicament as the “great resignation” is happening. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about four and a half million people quit their jobs in November 2021. There were 10.9 million job openings at the end of July in the U.S., setting an all-time high record. 

But what is the primary reason behind millions of people leaving their jobs, changing careers, or leaving the workforce altogether? Has the pandemic driven people towards remote work? What has caused this shift in priorities? Let us look at some of the reasons that might have fueled this significant movement. 

Why is the “great resignation” happening?

So what is the “great resignation”? Management Professor Anthony Klotz coined the term “great Resignation” in May 2021, and he predicted a flood of resignations as people reimagined what normal life should entail. Many individuals decided that it was time to change after working from home for months without traveling and spending more time with their families.

Employee Burnout

According to ‌poll results released by job portal Monster.com in July 2021, 95 percent of the 649 employed U.S. individuals surveyed were thinking about quitting their jobs. As per the findings, a third of these individuals quoted burnout as the top-cited reason for leaving their jobs.

In 2013, the World Health Organization classified burnout as an occupational phenomenon and described it as a condition characterized by chronic workplace stress that has gone unchecked.

Common symptoms may include:

  1. Feelings of energy drain
  2. Increased mental distance from one’s work, or feelings of negativism or cynicism about it
  3. Decreased professional efficacy

The physical, emotional and cognitive exhaustion associated with burnout can lead to impaired work performance, absenteeism and even job loss.

Desire to work remotely

Before the pandemic happened, most of us hadn’t experienced remote working. But as the pandemic spread and countries began to impose lockdowns, more people were switching to working from home. And guess what, they loved it! Many individuals are hesitant to return to full-time work after months of remote work, which has greatly eliminated the cost and hassle of the commute. Thus, employees get to spend more time with their families and on other activities. 

FlexJobs conducted a poll in March 2021 to understand people’s work experience since 2020. It surveyed over 2,100 individuals who worked remotely during the pandemic. According to the survey, employees prefer remote work after the pandemic. 58 percent of respondents said that they would seek a new position if they were not permitted to work remotely in their present role. Another 33 percent want a hybrid work arrangement, and 65 percent want to work remotely full-time after the pandemic. The top concerns regarding the return to the workplace include Covid-19 exposure, decreased job flexibility and worse work-life balance.  

Lack of Acknowledgement

Needless to say, employees prefer to remain at ‌workplaces that appreciate their work. According to a recent Stanford University study, companies with a good working culture were more likely to continue to care for their employees throughout the pandemic, while many firms with established poor working environments decided on layoffs. Not feeling acknowledged for the hard work they have put in, especially during the pandemic, might also lead to many dissatisfied employees departing their current firm altogether.

These company work culture issues are only the tip of the iceberg, and the pandemic has brought people’s attention to them. Still, the question is if the “great resignation” is here to stay or might disappear as organizations begin to prioritize employees’ well-being in an attempt to retain them. It’s time organization leaders and executives shift their priorities to develop an employee-friendly workplace and address employees’ concerns about work arrangements—if you don’t want to witness a resignation trend in your company. 

Header image courtesy of Freepik

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Nidhi Singh
A self-confessed Bollywood lover, travel junkie, and food evangelist. I like traveling and I believe it is essential to take your mind off the daily monotony. I’ll be reporting on stories from Asia's entrepreneurial ecosystem and can’t wait to get going!

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