In recent years, it has become quite common to hear that some people prefer to be happy doing something meaningful for themselves —even if that means doing nothing at all, than keeping a job that feels empty, unfulfilling, abusive or simply miserable. Sounds like a bold move… and it is a bold one that not everyone is willing to take.
However, during the last couple of years, the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences made a whole bunch of people analyze the quality of their work life and a lot of them decided it didn't satisfy their needs. And so they quit their jobs. In masse.
This particular phenomenon has been called "The Great Resignation": a massive amount of workers who voluntarily left their jobs, creating an unprecedented spike in the number of resignations and opening the conversation on the reasons or causes behind this situation.
The topic is also relevant because it ended up showing that most of the Resignators were choosing quality of life over the potential security that their stable jobs could provide. The trend of The Great Resignation was first noticed around April 2021, almost a year after the COVID-19 pandemic was declared around the world, when 4 million people resigned
It is believed that the pandemic produced the effect of a shift in priorities for those workers. Some wished they were doing a "dream job" or drastically switched careers, while others preferred to spend even more time at home with their families. According to a report from Harvard, another 4 million people quit their jobs in July 2021, and then 4.3 million more followed suit in August of that same year. The unemployment rate in the U.S. reached a whooping 15%, almost twice the figure after the 2008 economic crisis.
Some experts thought The Great Resignation would be over with the year 2021, but the trend seems to continue. There's still an astounding 44% of employees in America who are actively looking for a new job or are planning to change jobs in the near future.
But all these numbers don't actually mean that the U.S. is filling itself with people who refuse to work. Around the time The Great Resignation was first identified, the work landscape (after massive layoffs and downsizing in 2020) was awakening, a lot of job opportunities opened all around, and many quit because they chose to work somewhere else for various reasons.
The 2022 Annual Work Trend Index Report by Microsoft shows that among the main reasons why employees leave unsatisfactory jobs are a better salary, a nicer and more flexible office culture, or simply because they consider their health and wellbeing more important than work, especially after the pandemic and its lockdowns.
All of this is truly important because it shows a change of gears in work environments. It seems like hybrid modes will take over from full-time in-person work in the near future. Those companies that still resist this change of pace will probably struggle the most retaining their employees.
Also, the rates of Millennials and Gen Z who are willing to change jobs soon keep getting higher and higher. The needs of the workforce are growing beyond large paychecks and/or purely economic perks. Mental health, self-care and personal time appear to be more valuable for workers than ever before.
The Great Resignation has meant a break in paradigms and an opportunity for everyone to show their resilience and ability to adapt. It feels like these are inspiring times for those who are seeking a more satisfying way of living and working, as well as ways of better balancing both. What's your take on what will come next after The Great Resignation? How are you taking advantage of all of this?
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