A record-breaking four million Americans resigned from their jobs in April 2021, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, as reported by NPR. In May, another 3.6 million Americans quit their jobs, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The media is calling the trend “The Great Resignation.”
Employees who are quitting feel confident because of the availability of many jobs in the job market. Forbes cites data showing 9.3 million job openings in April this year. As of the end of May, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 9.2 million job openings. Employees who hung on to jobs they did not like during the worst periods of the pandemic are now able to free themselves for better opportunities.
Why Employees Are Quitting
CNBC cites a June survey by Monster showing that 95 percent of employees in the United States are considering quitting their jobs for a new one. Meanwhile, 92 percent are looking for the right position even if they have to switch industries. MSN states that the highest reason workers cited for quitting in the Monster survey was burnout. The second highest was the lack of opportunities for growth in their current job. WPG added that respondents to the Monster survey were also planning to quit because they did not like their current boss; they felt unappreciated; they were pursuing a higher salary, bonuses, and other fringe benefits; and they wanted a promotion elsewhere.
A study by FlexJobs among 2,100 American workers who worked remotely during the pandemic shows that 65 percent want to continue doing remote work full-time even after the pandemic. Meanwhile, 33 percent want a hybrid of home-based and office-based work. More than half or 58 percent would rather resign and find a new job if their employers required them to return to office-based work.
A separate study by FlexJobs shows that U.S. work commuters spend an average of 27.1 minutes one-way or about an hour in total on the road. Data from the Auto Insurance Center shows that commuters spend around 100 hours yearly on the road, with 41 of those hours being stuck in traffic. Commuting to work is not only inconvenient and costly, but it also has a negative impact on health. It increases stress, anxiety, risk of depression, and levels of cholesterol and blood sugar.
Among remote workers, 38 percent saved at least $5,000 a year, and 20 percent saved $10,000 a year under the work arrangement. This covers not just savings from the commute but also from housing and related expenses. Remote workers can move to lower-priced or lower-rent residences far from the office. They can choose an area that has a lower cost of living overall. They do not have to spend on meals outside the house, which are more expensive. They do not have to update their wardrobe to follow a dress code. Apart from financial benefits, working from home also allows them more time for themselves and for their families.
Forbes states that the pandemic has made employees review their life options, having been reminded of the fragility of life. They now choose jobs that they like and employers that provide empathy and a caring work environment.
What Employers Must Do
Employers are having difficulty finding people to hire because employees have many jobs to choose from. Forbes states that companies are trying to attract new hires through higher wages, sign-on bonuses, and other incentives like flexible and remote-work options. Even on Wall Street, investment banks worried about losing their best talent and gave staff large raises and bonuses, as well as appreciation incentives like Apple products and Peloton bikes in a bid to retain personnel.
If resignations are inevitable, employers must ensure that the replacements they hire are of top caliber and are the right fit for the organization. They must use all available tools, such as labor market analytics software, to find the right talent and to know how to attract them.
In addition to offering better salaries and benefits, employers must also offer options to work from home full-time or do a hybrid of remote work and office work. These are basic requirements for many job seekers now. Even with remote work, employers must allow flexible work schedules. They must understand that employees with children have to juggle childcare and supervision of school-age children doing distance-learning with work tasks. Employees will be more productive if they can schedule their work around their responsibilities to their children instead of trying to do both at the same time.
Many employees are looking for career growth. It is essential for employers to provide continuous training among their employees and show clear pathways for growth in the company. When job vacancies arise, it is best to promote current employees and hire at the lowest level. Continuous training ensures that each employee is being prepared for the next higher position, while resignations will mean upward growth for many within the company.
As employees’ mindsets have changed in the pandemic, so must employers’. It is time for a great reset across all industries.