The Great Resignation

The pandemic has changed the labor market like no other event in recent history. We have heard new terms such as “quiet quitting” and “The Great Resignation.” Now we hear the term “The Great Exhaustion” and it is no wonder that the labor market has remained tight with workers harder to find. Even with the fear of recession, the latest job numbers are strong, and economists are unsure just how much the labor market will be affected.

What are the factors driving workers to quit their jobs in record numbers?

According to Harvard Law Professor, the Great Resignation started over a decade ago and the Pandemic just helped to speed it along. Several factors caused this acceleration of people leaving their jobs including Retirement, Reconsideration, and Reluctance.

Retirement has contributed to an increase in resignations with older workers leaving their jobs at a younger age. The reasons behind an increase in retirements vary, but the desire to spend more time with family and the health risks posed by Covid 19 are contributing factors. Reconsideration has also played a role. This term refers to the shift in perspective in how people have begun to view work. The pandemic made people step back and look at the role work played in their lives. With so much death and illness, quality of life became more important and the demanding jobs which ate away at family time were no longer as important. Reluctance also contributed to people leaving their jobs. Fear of contracting Covid became a key factor for many people, particularly older workers, and those who are immune compromised. More workers have been prepared to leave their jobs if their employers do not offer a hybrid-work option.

Employee burnout or job fatigue has also contributed to people quitting their jobs. The pandemic left many employees feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. Women, who take the lead role in childcare, suffered the most. According to employee well-being company Limemade, women are more likely to suffer from burnout than men at a rate of 32% to 28%.

A study reported in CNBC’s business & financial web site, Make-It, says 50% of American workers have job fatigue. And many remote workers are experiencing something known as  productivity paranoia. This concept is on the rise among employers who sometimes mistakenly believe their remote workers productivity is not up to par with their on-site workers.

What can employers do to ease the stress of burned-out employees and encourage those who have left their jobs to come back to work? A recent article in the Society for Human Resource Management encourages employers to promote a healthy work/life balance for their workers. Set realistic expectations and be more proactive in helping employees avoid unnecessary stress in their jobs. Finally, recognize their accomplishments and let them know when they have done an excellent job.