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The Great Resignation

Submitted by Amanda Dumsch August 30, 2021

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a record four million people quit their jobs in April 2021 spurring what many are calling the “Great Resignation”.  Research by Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index also showed that 41% of the workforce is considering leaving their employer this year.

In normal times, people quitting jobs in large numbers indicates a healthy economy with plentiful jobs. Hiring is quickly accelerating again, but these are still not normal times. The pandemic has caused a recession and millions of people continue to be out of work. Yet despite all of this, employers are now complaining about acute labor shortages across many fields/sectors.

What is Causing This?
The pandemic and the great migration to remote work has made people begin to see their lives differently. It has had a profound impact on how people think about when and where they want to work. Tsedal Neeley, a professor at Harvard Business School, in an interview with NPR noted, “We have changed. Work has changed. The way we think about time and space has changed. Workers now crave the flexibility given to them in the pandemic – which had previously been unattainable.”

73% of surveyed works want flexible remote work options to continue, while at the same time, many companies are now considering re-designing physical workspaces to better accommodate a hybrid work environment.

While there are many reported benefits to remote work, it could also be the reason so many are resigning. The huge real-life experiment of quickly moving to remote work proved to be surprisingly successful. Managers who once worried employees would take advantage of the system and slack off found quite the opposite. Productivity surged and work hours lengthened with remote work. This high productivity is masking an exhausted workforce. 54% of employees reported feeling overworked. In addition to increased personal demands during the pandemic, many employees are just drained and needing a break. Many are choosing to prioritize their own well-being and take some professional time off.


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