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The Great Resignation: Why are people leaving their jobs?

the great resignation why are people leaving their jobs

“The Great Resignation” is a term coined by management professor Anthony Klotz. It refers to the idea that a large number of people are considering leaving their job as the pandemic eases.

There is mounting evidence that supports this prediction. According to the US department of labour, a total of 11.5 million workers quit their jobs between April-June 2021.1 Microsoft’s research has found that 41% of the global workforce is considering quitting their current jobs2 and Gallup has found that 48% employees are actively looking for new opportunities, specifically employees who are not engaged or are actively disengaged.3

Such drastic turnover is disruptive and expensive. It reflects a clear mismatch between what companies are providing, and the expectations employees have.

Why is this happening?

Purpose is a priority
For many people, the time spent at home during the pandemic – either due to lockdowns or remote working – has caused them to rethink their current work situation. Many people are re-assessing their goals and what it means to live life meaningfully. As a result of this, people globally are making major life changes to find work that helps them feel happy and fulfilled.

Lack of growth opportunities
According to a report by LinkedIn learning, 94% of employees say they would stay longer in their company if it invested in their learning and development.4 During the peak of the pandemic, personal development and career growth took a backseat. Promotion rates hit an all time low last year.5 Naturally, people are now striving to regain control over their growth and development.

High levels of burnout
A recent study indicates that 52% of employees feel burned out.6 The sudden shift to remote working, or the compulsion of going into work at the cost of safety has  resulted in a struggle to find work-life balance.  Heavy workloads, and a surge in responsibilities due to lay-off’s have also caused people to experience stress, disengagement and burnout. This has prompted people to prioritise their health and wellbeing, and take some time off to recuperate.

The great resignation presents a big challenge. Just as companies were beginning to see the light at the end of the pandemic and move forward with their growth plans, they now have to deal with the departure of some of their best people. Reversing this tide requires companies to empathise with their employees’ experiences and create a culture that promotes employee engagement.

Keep an eye out for part two of this article, where we will share how you can build a culture of high engagement, where employees are motivated to stay. (n.d.). Bureau of Labor Statistics Data. [online] (2021). The Next Great Disruption Is Hybrid Work—Are We Ready?
3Gandhi, V. and Robinson, J., 2021. The ‘Great Resignation’ Is Really the ‘Great Discontent‘. [online]
4LinkedIn Learning, 2021. Workplace Learning Report. [online] LinkedIn.
5Anders, G., 2020. Working hard, just to stay in place; job promotions this year slump 40%. [online]
6Threlkeld, K., 2021. Employee Burnout Report: COVID-19’s Impact and 3 Strategies to Curb It. [online]