The State of Jobs and the Great Resignation

5 min. read

Talent shortages are a global problem, and companies are offering very competitive salaries and benefits to either retain or attract employees

The term Great Resignation was coined last year after a rising trend was observed of employees leaving jobs or changing jobs. The term Quit Culture was also something that entered the vernacular after an alarming number of employees, especially it seemed Millennials, were seen to walk away from their employers.

Many of us fantasize about quitting our jobs. Well, many of us who are dissatisfied with our current state of employment, that is. And as it turns out, we are not alone. In April of 2020, 1.9 million people quit their jobs to find something else. Then in August of the same year, that number increased to 2.8 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2021, 4.53 million Americans voluntarily left their jobs by November. This was both a new monthly record and the eighth successive reading above the pre-pandemic high.

To put it in perspective though, workers aren’t quitting in droves across all sectors of the economy. While quits are higher than usual in most industries, a few sectors are responsible for most of the turnover, with some lower than their recent peaks. National averages and generalizations can give a unrealistic view of what’s really going on in the workforce.

But it would appear that the Great Resignation is not just a fleeting trend and likely to continue into 2022. If you’re considering getting off the merry-go-round, one of the first things you should ask is: Can you afford to?

Simply put, inflation has a large effect on whether or not you can. Last year, the inflation rate shot up to 6.8 percent. Wages on the other hand, have seen a 5 percent increase. See the problem there? With inflation outpacing wage increases, what you end up with is a deficit in actual earning versus cost of living. So then the question remains, if you bail out on your current job, instead of fighting for a raise, in the hopes that you could snag a too-good-to-be-true offer from another employer, you had better do your math before accepting that offer, or submitting for that raise if you want to at least maintain your current quality of life.

One issue worth drawing attention to is that not everyone resigning has their next gig lined up. In these cases, it is vital to consider the costs involved in voluntarily leaving the workforce, even on a temporary basis. And if you were banking on unemployment, then think again. Those coffers are running extremely low after the pandemic emptied them.

But there is something else brewing in the collective consciousness as well. Reddit now has a thread with more than 1.6 million users, called “anti-work” in which users post dramatic screenshots of quitting their jobs, and encourage others to do the same, or stay in their jobs and perform at their absolute minimum but still collect a paycheck.

This sentiment might be seen as laziness by some, but is something that also seems to be a rebellion against capitalism as a whole, but also covid, overwork, and a general negative workplace culture that has gone unchecked for too long in some people’s opinion. Some think that therein lies the key. An antidote to the Great Resignation that costs next to nothing — fix your company culture and create an amazing workplace that promotes transparency with leadership and employees.

Transparency goes both ways. It’s not just an open door policy from leadership for the employees to have a meaningful involvement in key areas of decision making and planning, but also for employees to be encouraged to share ideas and let leadership know what they’re doing to contribute to the overall goals of the firm.

Leaders who understand the power and importance of a positive corporate culture, and transparency, see this as a great opportunity. Employees who say their company is transparent feel more satisfied, valued, and fairly treated in their jobs. Creating a culture of open dialogue in both directions will lead to trust, mutual respect, and more committed employees — ultimately helping leaders build stronger companies.

To support this, an MIT study found that companies that have a healthy work culture are less likely to lose employees. Creating a better workplace includes hosting more cooperate social events, providing employees with benefits like happy hours and organizing more excursions outside the office where you can create fun experiences and strengthen connections between team members.

It would also include being flexible with employees who wish to balance their attendance with a hybrid home/office setup. On that note, companies should offer employees more remote working opportunities. While not all industries would benefit from work from home policies, high wage earners, who tend to have more comfortable housing arrangements, tend to prefer working from home.