- Wage stagnation and dissatisfaction with occupational status is causing many workers to quit their jobs and join the Great Resignation.
- If you are thinking of quitting, make sure it makes financial and emotional sense.
- The decision to resign from your job can have far-reaching ramifications, so make sure you do so in a way that preserves relationships and helps create new opportunities.
The COVID-19 Pandemic brought with it some of the most precarious economic circumstances the world has faced. Throughout 2020, for instance, roughly 114 million people lost their jobs. In the first three quarters of 2020 alone, approximately 9.6 million U.S. workers lost their jobs.
Despite the obvious negative repercussions of these circumstances, for many, the economic fallout of COVID was a wake-up call. And what this wake-up call has resulted in is what many are referring to as ‘The Great Resignation.’
What the Great Resignation tells us is that many workers are fed up with their jobs — even as the pandemic recedes and lessens in its severity. Even as more and more jobs become available. Even as some employers are raising pay for the first time in years.
It seems that the fractured relationship between employees and their work is largely the result of advances in work modalities that were amplified because of the pandemic. That is remote and hybrid options.
Perhaps you do not like your job. Maybe it’s just that you’re introverted and would prefer to interact with people a little less. Maybe commuting is your pet peeve. Or, it’s possible that the line of work you’re interested in can’t be done under traditional settings easily.
If you are looking to quit your job and join the Great Resignation, you’re in luck.
This article will help to navigate you through the process of leaving your job. It is one of the scariest things you can do. But it has the potential to be one of the most significant decisions you’ve ever made, so it’s worth considering your options and resources before making the giant leap.
What is the ‘Great Resignation.’
To some, the Great Resignation may still sound like a fantasy of sorts. Indeed, many still fall into the category of knowing people who only retained their job or people who’ve been out of work since the pandemic began. Nonetheless, there is an in-between, and this middle group of people is attempting to gain occupational independence en masse.
The world of work is constantly changing, but for less and less of the population. According to the World Economic Forum, stagnating wages and income inequality have resulted in whole generations that are no longer likely to out-earn their parents.
Rather, it is likely that they will fail to move up the financial ladder, resulting in more workers remaining in “low-skill” work than in previous generations.
Society disrespects much of the essential work it needs to survive
Low-skill work is undoubtedly valuable. It is, in many ways, responsible for holding society together. Imagine, for instance, if all of the baristas on the planet decided to quit one day –that alone could cause people to lose their minds. Nonetheless, low-skill work, including public-facing service work, is often demanding and unpleasant – not to mention low paying.
Indeed, this is to the point where it is somewhat demeaning to call this work ‘low-skill.’ It is imprecise and does not capture what such jobs truly entail –not to mention it undercuts the skill sets of those working in such jobs without many warrants.
The work low-skill employees must do requires an extraordinary amount of physical and emotional wherewithal. And that alone warrants respect and compassion. But such respect and compassion are lacking, and The Great Resignation is the result of such negligence.
Almost half of work is classified as “low-skill”
Roughly 44 percent of Americans work in low-skilled occupations, and most of that 44 percent are unsatisfied with their occupational status. In general, most are disaffected and not engaged in their work –a fact which applies to all jobs, not just low-skill positions.
We spend most of our waking hours at work. Hence, a spill-over effect comparable to the Great Resignation was only a matter of time –especially after decades of being referred to as ‘lowly’ by one’s society.
However, this disaffection and lack of engagement have been going on for quite a long time. So why is the Great Resignation happening now out of all times in history?
On the one hand, COVID-19 forced a significant number of workplaces to shift over to remote platforms. When this happened, some expected productivity to decrease. But, that did not happen –if anything, some studies show improvements in productivity resulting from remote work. What also happened is that many found remote work to have a profoundly positive impact on their well-being.
This indicates that this is a considerable motivation for the Great Resignation because now that businesses are re-opening their offices, many simply do not want to return. When polled, nearly half of workers (42 percent) say that if their employers do not offer a remote option, they will quit their jobs.
The evidence suggests that employers should not assume that these employees are merely bluffing. In June 2021 alone, nearly 4 million workers quit their jobs in America. And in the month before that, 3.6 million Americans resigned from their jobs.
Nonetheless, the evidence also suggests that employers are simply biting the bullet and doubling down on efforts to retain traditional work environments –often resorting to laying off workers or reducing benefits as a form of coercion.
Indeed, employers are skeptical any such exodus out of workplaces is occurring at all –which given the data, this is another example of employers simply not listening to employees’ needs and concerns.
Along with being fed up with this sort of treatment from employers and the strife intrinsic to ‘low-skill’ jobs, another salient factor is playing a role in the Great Resignation. Namely, a shift in perspective.
The pandemic gave many of us time to reflect on what truly matters to us. Prioritizing flexibility, work-life balance, and attaining one’s ‘dream job’ resulted from such reflection. In each of these categories, great numbers of workers realized that the traditional model of work could not –indeed, will not—accommodate their needs, leaving them no other choice but to quit.
Many of us now value our time more and find that our places of work fail to respect our values. So it’s pretty fitting that Gallop renamed the ‘Great Resignation’ to the ‘Great Discontent.’
Even before the pandemic, roughly 41 percent of workers considered quitting their jobs or switching their professions. Is it any wonder, then, that the Great Resignation has commenced? It’s only natural that people will grasp for a more reasonable alternative when all they’ve known for so long has been essentially toxic and counterproductive.
How to quit your job without burning bridges?
Maybe while you were reading the previous section, you felt heard. Hopefully, all this means is that you want to pursue your dream job and aren’t enduring a soul-crushing work environment. In either case, however, you may now be thinking about quitting your job. That’s great! However, if you intend to quit your job, it is important to take a strategic approach.
No matter what line of work you intend to enter, having recommendations is essential to advancement. At the center of your strategy will be not spontaneously quitting your job, ruining all possibilities of retaining vital networking connections. It’s an understandable desire to quit your job without notice –especially if you’re leaving a toxic work environment—but it’s not worth diminishing potentially valuable relationships in the process.
Hence, if you’ve truly dedicated yourself to the prospect of quitting your job, give your employer at least two weeks’ notice and even offer to train your replacement. In doing so, you should also provide your employer with a formal resignation letter, emphasizing your appreciation for the job and gratitude towards the company and staff.
You might even want to write a short note of appreciation on LinkedIn, letting the world know that you are pursuing new opportunities. Be sure to note your accomplishments and tag colleagues whose mentorship is appreciated.
Another worry arises when resigning, however. First, you have to give your employer a reason why you are resigning. Here is not the time to begin pointing fingers and playing the blame game –even if it is morally warranted. Reputationally, it’s worse to get fired than to resign, and doing the latter haphazardly may result in the former.
Instead, this is the time to be honest but vague. Saying that you are resigning to accommodate your needs and career goals is much better than saying you’re resigning because you hated the job and your manager –or worse, saying you hated the job because you hated your manager! Your manager is going to be the first person you’ll want to inform about your decision, so it’s best to keep things civil.
Should I really quit my job?
Figuring out whether or not you should quit your job will largely be a matter of personal preference. However, there are some generic questions you can ask yourself that can inform you to make the right decision.
One such question is, “what are my priorities?” And really, this is the question that encapsulates all of the other relevant questions when deciding to quit your job, such as, “Is this job negatively impacting my health?,” “is this job paying me enough?”, “am I settling?”, “is this job helping me reach my long-term career and financial goals?” and “can the problems at my job be fixed from within?”
For some, the dealbreaker could be their health. For others, it might be pay. In any case, these are the sorts of questions you need to have a serious conversation with yourself about before deciding to quit your job.
However, a good rule of thumb is that if your job is negatively impacting your health, is not getting you closer to your goals, and is not paying you well, it’s highly advisable to at least consider leaving your job. Do not downplay the severity to which your place of work is neglecting your needs. It does not pay to spend your days disaffected and disengaged.
In fact, consider how negatively your job is affecting you when you aren’t even at your job. If you can’t help but to spend your downtime lamenting about your place of work, you should highly consider quitting. Nothing that makes you chronically bitter is worth retaining.
I’ve quit my job. What should I do?
Let’s say you’ve decided to join the Great Resignation. That’s great! But what now? You’ve left your job for a reason –to improve your life—but it might seem unclear how to move forward from here.
The first obvious consideration is to begin applying to jobs –or, if you’ve quit your job to start a business, you should begin the process of starting a lean start-up. Because of the advent of e-commerce –and tools like Squarespace that make starting your online business much easier—it is now easier than ever to start your own business.
In either case, it’ll be time for you to update your CV.
However, you might be lacking the skills required to acquire your desired job. For example, maybe you want to be a writer or a graphic designer but have no portfolio. Maybe you want to be a teacher but have no experience or formal education in teaching.
At this point, it is imperative to pursue these necessary credentials, either through school, online educational resources or through gaining experience in a new, though lower-level job.
Finally –whether you are looking for a new job or starting your own business—it is crucial to keep in mind that you should not settle. If the job or client is not a fit, do not simply accept work because you need a paycheck. If you are patient and determined, that paycheck will come with a whole lot that is worth more than the money –integrity, flexibility, well-being, and your time.