What is The Great Resignation

William Meller - What is The Great Resignation
The Great Resignation is a phenomenon that describes record numbers of people leaving their jobs after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

The last several months have been a hard moment for a lot of companies around the around. The Great Resignation is an economic trend in which employees voluntarily resign from their jobs en masse, beginning in early 2021. 

The Great Resignation is an idea proposed by Professor Anthony Klotz of Texas A&M University that predicts numerous people leaving their jobs after the COVID pandemic ends and life returns to "normal." Managers are now navigating the ripple effects of the pandemic, as employees re-evaluate their careers and leave their jobs in record numbers.

People are taking higher wages in front-line jobs,” says Anthony Klotz. He spotted many trends, including an accumulation of resignations from 2020 and burnout among white-collar workers, that could signal a wave of departures. “Despite everyone wanting to rename it, it hangs on. This is more than a pleasant reshuffling of jobs.

According to an article from Ian Cook at Harvard Business Review, resignation rates are highest among mid-career employees, where employees between 30 and 45 years old have had the greatest increase in resignation rates, with an average increase of more than 20% between 2020 and 2021. 

"There are a few factors that can help to explain why the increase in resignations has been largely driven by these mid-level employees", Ian says, "first, it’s possible that the shift to remote work has led employers to feel that hiring people with little experience would be riskier than usual since new employees won’t have the benefit of in-person training and guidance. This would create greater demand for mid-career employees, thus giving them greater leverage in securing new positions."

According to another article from Derek Thompson at The Atlantic, the Great Resignation isn’t really about burnout. And it’s not really about what most people think of as resignations. To put it as concisely as possible: The Great Resignation is mostly a dynamic “free agency” period for low-income workers switching jobs to make more money, plus a moderate surge of early retirements in a pandemic.

But rather than merely being a ‘Great Resignation’ in which people simply quit and walk away, the current disruption is seeing a large swath of employees moves around the job market. Some workers are simply upset about the possibility of losing their "work from home" and schedule flexibility.

There is a consensus that during the pandemic people quit their jobs to find something more meaningful, connected with the working from anywhere culture and that makes sense for a new way of work-life balance. 

A recent global survey by EY goes some way in uncovering the answer. It found that over half of surveyed employees worldwide would consider leaving their job post-Covid-19 if they were not afforded some form of flexibility in where and when they work, and more than never, job retention differs by age, with millennials twice as likely as baby boomers to quit. Many young professionals state that the desire to continue working remotely is a big factor in the search for a new job.

Stewart Butterfield, the CEO of Slack, has a point in asking: “If we say that everyone must return to the office, or we expect people to, and one of our competitors says you can work remotely, who wouldn’t take the second option there?” We already know from surveys before the pandemic started that an overwhelming majority of knowledge workers would like to work from home and would even be willing to quit a job to work remotely. This is one of the major reasons for The Great Resignation.

Okay, what is the Great Resignation in one paragraph?

The Great Resignation is a phenomenon that describes record numbers of people leaving their jobs to find something more meaningful, connected with the working from anywhere culture and that makes sense for a new way of work-life balance. 

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