The Great Resignation: The Complete Overview

The Great Resignation: The Complete Overview

Great Resignation
Image Credit: Keystone-France via Getty Images

 

When COVID-19 spread around the world in early 2020, every government tried to “stop the spread.” One simple way to do that was to recommend that everyone who works at a computer to work from home.

Those “three weeks to stop the spread” turned into two years of an entirely new way to work for much of the world. It got people thinking:

To add fuel to the fire, “non-essential” businesses were closed and people lost their jobs during an artificially steep decline in employment at the beginning of the pandemic. Then, quantitative easing, PPP loans and stimulus checks went out creating an artificially quick increase in new jobs. The seesaw forced millions to think if they’d lose their job in one quarter, but then if they could actually get a better job the next.

It was an unprecedented set of circumstances that created The Great Resignation. Today, we break down the trend from every angle.

 

What Is The Great Resignation?

What is The Great Resignation?

Who coined the term?

Anthony Klotz - Great Resignation

Dr. Anthony Klotz

Associate Professor of Management

Texas A&M University

 

What is the definition?

The decisions of millions of workers to quit their jobs during the pandemic

Read the full chapter:
What Is The Great Resignation?

 

Why Is The Great Resignation Happening?

Why Is The Great Resignation Happening?

I asked my list of Buildremote contributors to share their ideas for what’s causing The Great Resignation. I wrote this article with the 28 best answers (and I’ve included ten of them below as an introduction).

  • The limitations of the 9-5
  • The return to the office
  • Seeking jobs with flexible hours
  • Changing preferences with younger generations
  • Competition for workers
  • Wage stagnation
  • Insufficient compensation
  • The gig economy
  • The uncertainty of the future
  • The opportunity to work remotely for companies around the world
Read the full chapter:
Why Is The Great Resignation Happening?

 

Great Resignation Vs. The Great Reshuffle

Great Resignation Vs. The Great Reshuffle

The Great Resignation caught on as the defining term to describe the record-setting job hunting numbers. But business leaders and economists pushed back on the “resignation” part of the term, pointing out that most workers were switching companies not leaving the workforce altogether. That’s how the second most common term came about, “The Great Reshuffle.”

Here’s how the terms differ:

  • The Great Resignation primarily focuses on people choosing to leave their roles at record rates.
  • The Great Reshuffle primarily focuses on people searching for better-fitting jobs, careers, companies, or work environments.

Think of it like this: The day you quit, you became part of The Great Resignation. The day you started your new career, you became part of The Great Reshuffle.

If you’d like to learn more about who coined each term, key statistics to support each movement, and more, read the full chapter by clicking below.

Read the full chapter:
Great Resignation Vs. The Great Reshuffle

 

Great Resignation Statistics

Great Resignation Statistics

The Great Resignation produced some of the biggest changes in employment numbers on record. Each quarter, new record-setting figures about job quits rolled in. New surveys captured figures around the desire to quit that we haven’t seen before.

In this database, we put together a complete list of statistics to describe The Great Resignation.

Below, you’ll find a few key figures to highlight the trend.

  • “40% of U.S. workers are actively searching for a new job right now.”
  • “The final 10 months of 2021 saw the largest exodus of employees on record.”
  • “94% of US retailers are having difficulty filling vacant positions.”
  • “68% of workers who had recently quit their jobs did so without another job offer on the table.”
  • “Resignations jumped 45% from the third to fourth quarter of 2021.”
  • “More than 47 million Americans made their dreams a reality and quit their jobs in 2021.”
  • “1 out of 3 American workers will not work for any employer that won’t offer at least partial remote work from home options.”

To see the full dataset, read the chapter below.

Read the full chapter:
Great Resignation Statistics

 

Great Resignation Demographics

Great Resignation Demographics

Mostly, the Great Reshuffle seems to be driven by psychographics (the classification of people according to their attitudes, aspirations, and other psychological criteria) rather than demographics. By that, I mean groups of people were leaving their jobs because they didn’t want to be in a certain industry anymore, they wanted to work from home permanently, they wanted higher pay, they wanted a better career path, etc.

But there are a number of demographic trends, too. People in certain industries quit more than others. Younger generations seem more likely to switch jobs than older generations.

In the table below, we pulled out all of The Great Resignation statistics related to demographics.

Statistic

Study Title

Source

Date

"94% of US retailers are having difficulty filling vacant positions."

Ergonomic Trends

November 2021

"55% of American workers plan to look for a new job."

Bankrate

November 2021

"70% of Black people and 67% of Hispanics plan to look for a new job in the coming year, compared to 47% of White people."

Bankrate

November 2021

"72% of workers who earn under $30,000 per year plan to look for a new job in the coming year, compared to 44% of those who earn $80,000 and more."

Bankrate

November 2021

"77% of Gen Z and 63% of Millennials plan to switch jobs in the next 12 months. Contrast that with Baby Boomers, of which only 33% plan to do the same."

Bankrate

November 2021

"45% of Gen Z and 47% of millennial employees would give up 10% or more of their future earnings for an opportunity to work remotely."

Workforce Pulse Survey by PwC

November 2021

"Resignations in the healthcare field increased by 3.6%."

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

December 2021

"Resignations in the tech field increased by 4.5%."

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

December 2021

"72% of US-based tech employees are thinking of quitting their job in the next 12 months."

TalentLMS

December 2021

"50% of the pre-pandemic workforce, but nearly 3 million women quit their jobs during the pandemic."

Superstaff

January 2022

"26% of Millennials say that the desire to work remotely prompted them to switch jobs."

Superstaff

January 2022

"30% of Millennials, who are currently the largest segment of the American workforce, say that they are actively looking for or considering new job opportunities."

Superstaff

January 2022

"More than 47 million Americans made their dreams a reality and quit their jobs in 2021."

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

February 2022

"72% of tech workers are considering leaving their roles in the next 12 months."

Pew Research Center Survey

February 2022

"The leisure and hospitality sector had a 6.4% quit rate."

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

March 2022

"The professional and business services sector had a 3.7% quit rate."

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

March 2022

"The trade, transportation, and utilities sector had a 3.6% quit rate."

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

March 2022

"The financial activities sector had a 1.7% quit rate."

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

March 2022

"The state and local government sector had a 1% quit rate."

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

March 2022

"The Federal Government job sector had a 0.7% quit rate."

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

March 2022

Go back to the complete overview.

 

Is The Great Resignation Real?

Is the great resignation real?

Yes. The Great Resignation is real.

Here are some record-setting employment numbers that came in during The Great Resignation.

  • “The number of Americans quitting has now exceeded pre-pandemic highs for eight straight months.”
  • “47.8 million workers quit their jobs, an average of nearly 4 million each month, meaning 2021 holds the highest average on record.”
  • “Americans quit jobs at a record pace during the second half of 2021, and more plan to resign in the new year.”
  • “The final 10 months of 2021 saw the largest exodus of employees on record.”
  • “94% of US retailers are having difficulty filling vacant positions.”

These statistics are the proof you need to see that The Great Resignation is real.

Go back to the complete overview.

 

When Did The Great Resignation Start?

when did the great resignation start?

The Great Resignation started in early 2021. Anthony Klotz, a Professor at Texas A&M University, coined the term in the first quarter of 2021, but then did an interview with Bloomberg on May 10, 2021. That is when the term hit the mainstream and became official.

Go back to the complete overview.

 

How To Combat The Great Resignation

How to combat the great resignation

If you are a company founder or manager, you may be wondering why people are leaving your organization and what you can do about it.

Keep in mind that the working world was thrown into a new experiment in early 2020. After a year or two years of working in a completely new way, many workers changed their preferences for how work should be done. Generally speaking, they now want flexibility, remote work, pay that can keep up with or outpace inflation, an industry that can’t be shut down or turned off,  and managers that don’t cause burnout.

If you’re wondering how to combat The Great Resignation at your company, here’s what I’d recommend:

  1. Ask your people (leaving and staying) what they want.
  2. Read the statistics and surveys to understand the trends.
  3. Make changes to your work structure and company benefits to better retain and attract talent.
Go back to the complete overview.

 

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About the author

Henry OLoughlin

Hi, I'm the founder of Buildremote. I have worked from home for a decade and run a fully remote, four-day work week company for eight years. I've made all of the mistakes running a remote company. I hope if you read my site, you'll be spared.

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