It has become such a thing that it’s been given a label – “The Great Resignation.”
Folks are leaving jobs in droves. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a total of 11.5 million workers resigned during April, May and June of this year.
And according to information gathered by Gallup and those of that ilk, if you’re not quitting, there is a good chance you are thinking about it.
While all of this might not be due to the pandemic (the term “Great Resignation” was coined in 2019), it is likely a – if not the – driving factor.
Although reasons vary for folks leaving jobs, it seems being at home for an extended time started them thinking about it. A LinkIn survey revealed 74 percent of those questioned said the time spent at home caused them to rethink their careers.
Some members of two-earner households decided they could make it with one income.
Others decided life was too short to work for a toxic, narcissistic manager.
Still others concluded remote working is a good fit. When their employer said, “Come back to the office,” they said, “I don’t think so,” gave their notice and found a job where remote working is standard.
And for the first time in recent memory, it’s a seller’s market for employees. If you don’t believe it, drive around and observe the “We’re Hiring” signs in stores and restaurants, or scroll through some online job boards.
Harvard Business Review conducted an in-depth study on the mass career exodus, looking at data from more then 4,000 companies.
The two major findings were (a) resignations are highest among mid-career employees (those between 30 and 45 years old, although there may be some argument about a person in the early 30s being “mid-career”), and (b) resignations are highest in the tech and health care industries.
The first finding is not terribly surprising, and I would argue is not 100 percent attributable to the pandemic. We have known for a couple of decades that, unlike those of preceding generations who got out of school, went to work for a company and stayed until retirement, on average, folks don’t stay in jobs as long as they once did.
And although for the Harvard Business Review study, 30-45 was considered “mid-career,” some are still finding their way during that time of life. When I reflect on my own working life, I know I had not found a comfortable stride until my early 40s, and I still made a couple of changes after that.
But again, the unarguable – and unprecedented (a word that probably needs to be retired after the pandemic) -- distinctive for this point in history is the rate at which workers are resigning, creating a dilemma for employers.
As for the health care and tech industries, not surprisingly, the study found “resignation rates were higher among employees who worked in fields that had experienced extreme increases in demand due to the pandemic, likely leading to increased workloads and burnout.”
The type of pressure on health care workers over the past 18 months would lead anyone to consider a move, and I’m guessing tech workers are stretched even more thin as, in addition to huge responsibilities keeping their companies current in technology, they tend to the folks working from home. (Who doesn’t love a person that can analyze a personal computer issue in minutes?)
So why not make a change if there is an opportunity to do so?
In addition to the surge in resignations and job changes, there is also an increase in “side hustles” (a part-time job on top of a full-time position.)
Navigation can be tricky. Trying to carry on the supposed side position during your permanent job’s working hours could land you on the doorstep of your manager with an Uber Eats or Shipt delivery, trying to convince him or her this is only happening during your lunch hour.
And speaking of, there are even those with the intestinal fortitude to maintain two full-time jobs in this WFH (Working From Home – the newest acronym) environment.
A Wall Street Journal piece from a few weeks ago chronicled the stories (confidential, of course) of a half-dozen workers holding down two full-time positions from their home offices. They claim to make it work with strategic management of their calendars and phones, and sometimes days off from one or the other job, as they enjoy the double income this type of life affords them.
Apparently, although incredibly deceitful and dishonest, it’s not illegal. And these folks maintain they are among thousands doing the same thing.
Now that’s something I could not handle. Even if I could sink that low on a moral level, the stress would overtake me, and it would only take one video call to see it written all over my face. I would be busted in no time.
Moreover, I am not interested in a change at this point in life. Steady as she goes for me, thank you, and I’ll decline to be a data point in the studies and surveys.
Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather. Email him at [email protected].