Is it The Great Resignation or The Great “Job Switcharoo”? - American Society of Employers - Mary E. Corrado

Is it The Great Resignation or The Great “Job Switcharoo”?

Since the pandemic, the U.S. has experienced what is now coined The Great Resignation.  The nation’s quit rate reached an all-time high this past November.  However, the national unemployment rate is now at a low 3.6%.  So, while employees are resigning, they are not resigning entirely from the workforce as many initially assumed.

What has triggered this Great Resignation? Derek Thompson, in a recent article in The Atlantic, states that, “The Great Resignation isn’t a dramatic shift in worker sentiment. It’s a dramatic shift in worker opportunity.”

While there are all sorts of surveys out there that will say workers are quitting due to low pay, lack of flexibility, lack of opportunity…the reality is they have more opportunities and are taking them.  Interestingly, when comparing surveys, the number of employees thinking about quitting was higher than the number of employees saying they are unsatisfied in their current positions.

According to Thompson, there are three common myths around The Great Resignation:

  1. Americans don’t want to work anymore.
  2. Most Americans hate their job, and the pandemic made them really hate their job.
  3. The Great Resignation is a reflection of that job hatred.

He debunks these myths with the following:

  1. Americans don’t want to work anymore – if this were true the unemployment rate would not be under 4%.  The current labor-force-participation rate for employees aged 25-54 if the highest it’s been in years. In fact, with that low of an unemployment rate, there are likely workers trying to enter the workforce who are unable to find work.
  2. Most Americans hate their job – There have been many reports that during the pandemic, job satisfaction actually increased. A 2021 survey by the Conference Board found that job satisfaction in 2020 was the highest they had recorded since 1995.
  3. The Great Resignation is a reflection of that hatred – A survey of employees conducted by Angus Reid Global recently concluded that the number of employees saying they were thinking about quitting soared in 2021, rising significantly more than the change in job satisfaction. So, more people are thinking about quitting than are reporting dissatisfaction with their jobs.  From this, we can conclude that most are not quitting due to hatred of their job – they are simply finding better opportunities.

Employers must continue to engage their employees and listen to their needs.  Consider engagement surveys, one-on-one meetings, or employee-led committees to keep a pulse on your employees. Offer training and development to allow for career development and a feeling of belonging. Offer flexible work arrangements that accommodate their lifestyles. Make sure your organization is the best opportunity for them.

Opportunities are abundant right now. What are you doing to avoid losing an employee to a better opportunity?  Email me at mcorrado@aseonline.org.

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