The Great Resignation Didn’t Start with the Pandemic

Source: Joseph Fuller and William Kerr, Harvard Business Review, March 23, 2022
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Covid-19 spurred on the Great Resignation of 2021, during which record numbers of employees voluntarily quit their jobs. But what we are living through is not just short-term turbulence provoked by the pandemic. Instead, it’s the continuation of a trend of rising quit rates that began more than a decade ago. Five main factors are at play in this trend: retirement, relocation, reconsideration, reshuffling, and reluctance. All of these factors, the authors argue, are here to stay. They explore each in turn and encourage leaders to examine which of them are contributing most to turnover in their organizations, so that they can adapt appropriately as they move into the future. ….

…. Workers are retiring in greater numbers but aren’t relocating in large numbers; they’re reconsidering their work-life balance and care roles; they’re making localized switches among industries, or reshuffling, rather than exiting the labor market entirely; and, because of pandemic-related fears, they’re demonstrating a reluctance to return to in-person jobs.

By looking at how each of these factors has contributed to the Great Resignation, we can gain a helpful understanding of the forces that are shaping worker behavior today — and will do so for the foreseeable future. ….