The Great Resignation: What’s Going On?



Americans are Leaving Their Jobs in Droves

 

The number of American workers quitting their jobs is higher than it’s ever been.


According to the most recent U.S. jobs report, well over 20 million Americans quit their jobs in the second half of 2021. Whether you call it the “Great Resignation” or the Big Quit, the big question is…


Why?

It seems everywhere you look these days; employers are advertising for help. Help Wanted signs are displayed in every store and restaurant window. Employers are offering higher pay, benefits and even signing bonuses.

And yet the positions remain unfilled.


LinkedIn, touted as the world’s largest professional network with 800 million members in 200 countries, has a bird’s eye view of the current U.S. labor market. (One person is hired every 15 seconds LinkedIn.)


The company’s chief economist, Karin Kimbrough, believes that the COVID-19 pandemic provided a unique opportunity for American workers to step back and reassess their career and life choices.


“People have been ‘living to work’ for a very long time,” Kimbrough recently told 60 Minutes. “And the pandemic brought that moment of reflection,” allowing people to discover their real passion and identify what they truly want to do with their lives.


Even after their federal stimulus and unemployment benefits have ended, many Americans are not rushing back to work. Others are returning, but not to the same positions or companies. Workers everywhere are jumping ship for higher wages, better conditions, or just different opportunities altogether.


Who’s Leaving?

In addition to millions of Baby Boomers retiring early, millions of Gen Z workers (those in their teens and early twenties) have also called it quits. Most of the vacancies are in retail, hospitality, healthcare, education and construction industries. Also, significantly

more women than men have chosen to pack it in. (Many working mothers had no choice when childcare options became extremely limited.)


Shifting Balance of Power

Needless to say, all of these changes in the workforce have resulted in a fundamental shift in the power balance between employers and employees, with employees now calling the shots. While employers are eager to hire, job candidates have the luxury of being very choosy.


In addition to better pay and benefits, employees want more autonomy and flexibility in their work schedules. Employers must respond or be left out in the cold. And some ARE responding, by offering not only these benefits, but others. Such as tuition reimbursement, moving expenses and signing bonuses.


Remote Work Takes Off

Americans have taken to remote employment like ducks to water. In fact, workers are 2.5 times more likely to apply for a remote job than an onsite position.


According to Kimbrough, in pre-pandemic times, about one in every 67 jobs was a remote job. Today, that number is one in seven. “Companies have found that, if they want to attract candidates, they need to meet them where they are now,” she said.


What’s Next?

As former workers deplete their savings, will the pendulum of power swing back toward employers? Maybe. But even so, Kimbrough believes, employees will likely cling to the flexibility for which they’ve fought. “I think this trend toward having more flexibility could be permanent,” she said.


Employees who now enjoy the luxury of working autonomously from home, hope she’s right.

 

Sources: CBS News

Bureau of Labor Statistics

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