The Great Resignation
Written by Julie Rupenski, Medbest
We’re all familiar with the coined terms “The Great Depression” and “The Great Recession”. Today, we’re in the midst of what’s being called “The Great Resignation.”
The Great Resignation is the ongoing trend of employees voluntarily leaving their jobs, from Spring 2021 to the present, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was first labeled The Great Resignation by Anthony Klotz, a professor of management at Mays Business School of Texas A&M University.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor states that 4 million Americans quit their jobs in July 2021. Resignations were at their highest in April and have remained abnormally high since. We’ve actually had a record-breaking 10.9 million open jobs at the end of July.
Who is Resigning?
Harvard Business Review (HBR) conducted a study and found that mid-level employees between the ages of 30 and 45, have had the greatest increase in resignation rates. Mid-level employees may have delayed resigning their jobs due to the uncertainty of the pandemic. This could mean that the numbers we’ve seen over the past several months could be the result of pent-up resignations.
HBR’s study also accounts for the many workers who may have simply reached a breaking point or burnout after months and months of high workloads, hiring freezes, wage freezes, etc. causing them to reconsider their current roles and careers. Furthermore, since this is a candidate’s market and there’s a plethora of current job openings, many left for better opportunities.
We’ve also experienced a wave of workers move from the office to working fully remote. Many companies are now insisting that workers return to offices. However, many workers would like to stay remote or enjoy a hybrid schedule. Therefore, they’re moving to companies that fit their work style preferences.
Caught off Guard.
Frankly, The Great Resignation caught many employers off-guard because it ran contrary to traditional job markets. From past experience, during downturns, employers could take advantage of people and yet employees would stay and be grateful to still have a job. Additional perks or frills weren’t necessary. But it seems that today’s workers will no longer accept the unacceptable. They’re moving on. Therefore, employers will suffer big employment gaps and even bigger retention issues.
Industries Affected Most by The Great Resignation:
Fast Company, a leading business magazine, found that 4 industries have been greatly affected by The Great Resignation:
- Healthcare: Employee burnout is the #1 reason. The turnover rate for staff RNs increased by 2.8% in 2020, reaching 18.7%. Hospitals and Senior Living organizations both have high vacancy rates for RNs and currently it can take up to 89 days to recruit and onboard a new nurse. The same is true with physicians. COVID-19 has caused them to change their employment plans, and many are retiring.
- Retail & Hospitality: We’ve all seen signs posted at restaurants and retailers that read: “Please be patient, we are understaffed.” The pandemic hit this industry especially hard due to shutdowns which caused employees to move into new occupations at grocery stores or big box stores or transfer job skills to other industries. Now that venues are opening back up, many of these workers are not coming back. They’re gainfully employed elsewhere.
- Manufacturing: People are leaving their current employer to follow the money, especially lower paid hourly workers. Manufacturers are scrambling right now to raise pay and add sign-on bonuses to attract workers.
- Technology: Several factors have led to Big Tech resignations. Many are suffering burnout and are opting to work for smaller companies. Many more have been lured away by competitors. However, for some, now is the time to create their own tech start-up company due abundant funding and greater opportunities.
There’s no immediate end in sight for The Great Resignation. Millions of workers have already quit and ultimately, created significant disruption for many organizations. What should employers be doing to counter it? Smart employers should be reviewing their workplace policies and retention strategies and making immediate changes. Employers should also look at this as a tremendous opportunity to pick up top talent since the job market is being flooded right now with good people looking for something different and better.