Quarantines, uncertainty, shutdowns, companies laying off employees, and restrictions on accessing goods and services were the order of the day during the early phases of Covid-19 emergence. The emergence of Covid-19 brought about many changes (good and bad) in the way we live, work, socialize, etc. Many people became more aware of themselves and what truly matters most in their lives. This realization may be among the many factors that led to the masses quitting their jobs, which leads to the question: what is the Great Resignation? And what are its impacts and effects? This article discusses the great resignation, factors leading to it, trends, and how it has fueled the growth of cities in Canada and the U.S.
The Great Resignation refers to the ongoing economic trend that has seen many employees, mainly in the United States, voluntarily resign from their jobs in masses, starting from early 2021. Also known as the Great Reshuffle or Great Quit, the Great Resignation didn't end with introducing the coronavirus vaccine, uplifting shutdowns, Covid-19 restrictions, or stabilization of economies. In fact, it's still there in 2022, and many people continue to resign from their jobs.
Predicted and coined by Anthony Klotz, a Texas A & M University management associate professor, the Great Resignation has negatively affected many companies. With many people resigning, the labor force became low. The reduction in the labor force means low output both in goods produced and services offered, decreasing company sales and hence low profits. A low workforce also means a heavy workload for the remaining staff, making them exhausted and may lead them to reconsider their decisions to work for the company.
As more people resign, the morale and motivation to continue working for other employees decrease. This reduced motivation can interfere with employees' production, making them not reach their full potential when delivering. Another challenge of the Great Resignation of companies is the issue of sourcing new staff. With mass resignation, hiring new workers who are up to the task may be somewhat challenging. Moreover, even if companies get newly qualified staff, employing them may be expensive. Think of the time it will take to vet these employees, the resources needed for orientation and training, and the period these new workers would take to fully adapt to the new working environment.
Why are many people resigning from their jobs? Are they looking for better wages, a better working environment, or flexibility? What do you think led to the Great Resignation? Although some people argue that the emergence of Covid-19 is to blame, many people feel the Great Resignation didn't start with the pandemic. The employment resignation rate has been steadily increasing since 2009. Here are the top reasons people leave their jobs in the Great Resignation period.
The early phases of Covid-19 resulted in many people dying and others in critical conditions fighting for their lives. This increased number of deaths and hospitalizations caused a change in how many people think. Workers began reconsidering their jobs and how they affect their lives. And whether it's worth continuing with the jobs considering the risks of Covid-19 they're subjecting themselves to. This change in thinking made many people leave their jobs, especially those demanding jobs like hospitality and the health sector. The perspective shift is more common in women than men and young people than old. Why?
Most women weighed options between getting burnout working in demanding jobs and not being appropriately compensated for the same versus taking care of their children, ailing parents, siblings, etc.
On the other hand, young people working in the finance and consulting industries had notable burnout levels. That's so because there was an immense demand for services from these sectors. This unprecedented demand mandated employees in these industries to work exceedingly hard to cope with the demand without getting much from the mentorship, training, and client interaction, which was previously highly rewarding, changing their perception and subsequently quitting jobs.
The pandemic influenced many companies to adopt the working from the home narrative. While the remote working idea has its challenges, many welcome it. Employees started to see their profession differently. Some people loved meeting their goals from the comfort of their homes, working while caring for their families; others enjoyed the flexibility of being away from a toxic work environment, among others.
With time, some people loved working remotely, while many relocated to other places and were devoted never to going back to full-time office work. The relocation led to increased houses for sale in Sarnia, Ontario, among other locations. People can now view Sarnia real estate with a few search bars and filters. When the Covid-19 curve was flattening and companies started calling their staff to full-time office work, many people left and resorted to other remote jobs.
Many employees persevered with increased work pressure and a toxic work environment until recently. With the emergence of Covid-19, which led many companies to lay off their workers, the remaining staff had to shove additional responsibilities. The additional responsibilities coupled with low pay, pay cuts, poor work-life boundaries, discrimination, verbal abuse, and sexual harassment created a toxic company culture. This toxic work environment influenced many to leave their jobs.
Restaurants, bars, aviation industries, and gyms were among the most hit sectors by Covid-19. Social distancing, wearing masks, lockdowns, and strict rules imposed on the hospitality sector saw many firms letting go of their workers. This sacking led others employed in similar industries to feel insecure, dreading when they'll be laid off. Many opted to quit rather than wait to be sacked in response to the insecurity.
Sometimes people need not have reasons to resign. If you feel your job is not fulfilling anymore or realize it's not what you want to do for the rest of your life, why not quit and find something more meaningful? Or sometimes people may resign to look for better-paying jobs than their current ones. It's normal for employees to resign and change jobs if they feel underpaid than work done or paid less than workers in similar positions in other organizations.
The pandemic brought many changes, and some companies were slow to adopt them. For instance, despite the strong push of employees to work remotely, some companies still mandate their staff to work from the office full-time. Other companies obligated employees in social isolation after coronavirus exposure to report to work. This poor Covid-19 in some organizations led to many quitting their jobs.
The United State Bureau of Labor Statistics reported about 4 million people leaving their jobs in the U.S. in April 2021. Another 4 million people resigned in July. In August and September, 4.3 and around 4 million people left their jobs. Putting all these figures brings almost 3% of the U.S. labor force to quit their jobs monthly. Note that this data reflects the United States alone.
In the U.K., things were not any better either. The workforce is low, making many companies severely short of workers. According to a survey done by the Randstad U.K. firm, 69% of workers planned to resign from their jobs. Out of this, 69%, 16% have no interest in looking for other jobs, and the remaining 53% desire to try different positions somewhere. These numbers are pretty high compared to the previous 11% of the workforce changing jobs every year.
Other countries too experienced the great re-think. According to the Indeed job website, 1000 respondent workers in Singapore (December 2021) survey note found out that about half of these workers are unsure if they'll stay in their current jobs in the coming six months. And roughly a quarter of these employees planned to leave their jobs come January 2022. Data on LinkedIn also shows a remarkable increase in the number of staff changing jobs in the Netherlands, Spain, and Italy compared to early 2021.
Australia also witnessed mass resignation and job shifts. According to the Australian government, 1 million workers changed jobs and assumed new roles from August to November. This job changing rate was higher by 10% compared to the pre-pandemic stage.
What is more interesting is that not all sectors witnessed mass quitting. Some sectors were significantly affected by the Great Resignation compared to others. The highest resignation rate was in the accommodation and foodservice industries. Not surprising, considering the increased workload and customer rudeness these workers claim to undergo. Aviation industries also reported increased rudeness and unruly passengers from June 2021.
Roughly 6.9% of workers in bars, hotels, restaurants, and motels gave their notice to resign in November 2021. This resignation is higher than the 5% quit rate in these industries over the last two decades.
The retail trade, consisting of employees in shops and stores, is among the industries with the second-highest resignation rates. This sector witnessed a 4.4% quit rate. On the other hand, constructions, finance, real estate, information, and insurance noticed a pretty low quit rate compared to other times over the past two decades.
Other industries with high quit rates are those in very demanding jobs like the health sector. The burnout from working long hours and the fear of "I could be the next Covid-19 patient" drove the masses to resignation. Sectors with low-paying jobs also had their staff quitting to look for better opportunities.
There was an interesting trend in quitters' age, gender, education level, race, and income levels. Young people (18-29 – 37%) resigned more than any age group, with older people (above 65 – 5%) the least resignation lot. Higher quit rates were also more in women than men. Hispanic (24%) and Asian (24%) races resigned more compared to their Black (18%) and White (17%) counterparts. Low-income earning personnel were more likely to quit their jobs (24%), unlike middle (18%) and high (11%) income earners. In the education sector, employees with a high school diploma or less education quit more (22%) compared to college (20%), bachelor's degree (17%), and postgraduate degree (13%) workers.
The Great Resignation has influenced the growth of cities across the U.S. and Canada. Some include:
The laying off, no salary, or cut salaries imposed by companies on their workers opened a window of opportunity for many. People got creative and ditched the idea of looking for other jobs.
Many workers tapped into their creativity and came up with different ways of earning, leading to the surge of many businesses. As more companies are formed, more tax streams are in, leading to the growth of cities and countries. The Census Bureau's Business Formation Statistics dataset reported a significant increase in people filing tax paperwork to begin new businesses.
From January to November 2021, almost 5 million people registered their businesses, a 55% increase compared to the same period in the previous year. Most of these registered businesses are "high-propensity," meaning they are likely to generate new jobs, improving the economy. The large amount invested in venture-backed startups by big companies further enhanced the growth of small startup businesses.
Companies have to improve themselves or face a labor shortage with many resigning. In that light, companies are changing their business models and operating to be employee-friendly. They are incorporating better policies that would ensure a conducive working environment. Companies are now rewarding productivity which motivates their staff to perform better. Adjusting salaries to match experience, introducing flexible working hours, and showing empathy to employees are among the strategies companies are currently adopting. Corporate recognition is also playing a vital role in this transition, with initiatives such as awards on Able Recognition helping to show employee appreciation and build a better relationship between the company and its staff.
Companies hiring boomerang employees (previous staff who'd like to return) strive to ensure they handle what made them resign. Whether it's low pay, toxic work culture, lack of motivation, etc., in this case, companies increase their pay, strive to develop a conducive working environment rich in a good culture, and tap into what motivates their employees.
While many people view the Great Resignation in a bad light, it created a window of opportunity for many workers. Increased creativity and innovation led to the surge in numerous businesses, which further fueled the growth of towns and cities across various countries.