The Great Resignation, Explained
December 6, 2021

By now you’ve probably heard of a term that’s circulating the hiring world in droves and across all industries: The Great Resignation. The clever name aside, this has been a serious issue across the United States over the course of 2021. What’s worse is that experts say the Great Resignation is here to stay in 2022 and the months to come. So what is The Great Resignation? HR Anew is breaking down how this phenomenon started and progressed since early 2021.

What is The Great Resignation?

Simply put, Americans are leaving their jobs in droves. The Great Resignation is not affecting any particular industry, but instead the United States workforce as a whole. You’ve probably experienced this first hand if you’ve patroned a retail store or restaurant in the last six months. Companies across the country are understaffed to a degree that’s forced some businesses to close. Typically, a high resignation rate signifies a healthy economy with plenty of open job availability. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has signified that these are not normal times and companies have had to adjust their hiring strategies significantly in the past six months.

How did this begin?

The Great Resignation began during the COVID-19 pandemic, but nationwide resignation data really peaked in April 2021. This trend has remained consistent each month since. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 4 million Americans quit their jobs in July 2021. This summer, there were 10.9 million job openings in the United States. While it’s typical for younger employees (ages 20-25) to have high resignation rates, this group has remained surprisingly stable during the Great Resignation. Employees between the ages of 30-45 are actually the ones who are experiencing the highest resignation rates.

Understanding How We Got Here

Now that you have a better understanding of what the Great Resignation means and who is resigning, we want to take a moment to reflect on how we got here. Below are several factors that have led to the Great Resignation and will continue to affect companies across the country:

  • Women have become full time caretakers. This is an extremely important factor to take into consideration. The COVID-19 pandemic has created a significant and disproportionate battle against working women. At the start of March 2020, when families had to shift to homeschooling their children or becoming caretakers for vulnerable family members, millions of women had to give up their careers.
  • Workers want flexibility. Remote work was once a pipe dream for many employees, but the realities of our new working world have made it possible for employees to choose a virtual office over an in-person one. After getting a taste of remote work during lockdown, some employees have chosen to remain in a virtual office setting, even if their company reverted back to in-person work. These employees simply found new jobs.
  • Better compensation is important, but not everything. While many entry-level jobs have opened up to better compensation structures, employees in mid to senior-level career positions have realized that compensation is important, but it’s not everything. The flexibility and convenience of working from home are simply not factors of their work lives that they are ready to give up.

Until employers can adopt to this changing workplace landscape, The Great Resignation may be a phenomenon that’s here to stay. HR Anew recruiters can help your company or organization meet these recruiting challenges.

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