According to BLS data, over four million people left their job last year each month, despite the growing recession and inflation. And even though COVID-19 sparked the Great Resignation, it doesn’t seem to be coming to a halt.
So, the question remains: why are so many people quitting their jobs during times like these?
“The Great Resignation or The Big Quit is an economic trend we are all witnessing today,” said Ebnu Sudarso, Co-founder of Milkwhale. “There are a lot of causes for these mass amounts of resignations.”
From unsatisfactory pay to working too much or too little, workers leave their jobs because they are no longer willing to stay in a position that doesn’t fit them.
Even though this trend is more common among the younger generations, people of all ages are becoming a part of it. In fact, Lever’s report found that 40% of employees of all ages, with the highest attrition rates of 65% among Gen-Zs, are planning to resign within a year.
Along with expert opinions, this article will cover the most common reasons for people handing in their resignations and take a look at future employment trends and projections.
Why are so Many People Quitting Their Jobs?
In the last two years, many analyses have been conducted to determine why people quit their jobs.
Pew Research Center organized and carried out one such survey, with 10,000 panelists answering questions about why they left their jobs.
According to their findings, there were ten main premises for the high number of resignations. Some of the causes were more significant for certain people than for others, but the results show the following reasons:
- Low compensation (63%)
- No advancement opportunities (63%)
- Felt mistreated in the workplace (57%)
- Conflict with child care (48%)
- Lack of flexible working schedule (45%)
- Unsatisfactory benefits (43%)
- Working too many hours (39%)
- Desire to relocate (35%)
- Not working enough hours (30%)
- Mandatory COVID-19 vaccine (18%)
McKinsey also surveyed 13,500 responders in their 2022 Great Attrition, Great Attraction 2.0 global survey on why they left their previous employers. Their discoveries identified 12 major incentives for quitting:
- No opportunities for career development and advancement (41%)
- Low salary (36%)
- Indifferent and insipid managers (34%)
- Unmet need for meaningful work (31%)
- Unmanageable work expectations (29%)
- Lack of supportive colleagues (26%)
- Unfulfilled requirement for flexibility (26%)
- Insufficient support for health and well-being (26%)
- Lack of inclusiveness (14%)
- Tied to a location and mandatory travel (13%)
- Perilous workplace environment (13%)
- Insufficient access to resources (11%)
These are just a few large-scale pieces of research to determine why so many people quit their jobs. While so many others were conducted, the verdict is that a handful of reasons appear in each one.
Reasons for Quitting
The following are the most significant motives for workers quitting jobs:
1) Lack of Career Growth
As is evident from the surveys mentioned above, the principal reason why employees decide to resign is that they see no possibility of climbing up the career ladder.
Ruth Jessica, a marketing representative of Voissee, agrees with this, stating, “When workers lack career development or advancement, they will look for other opportunities outside.”
Now more than ever, people don’t want to stay in the same role for their entire careers. They are open to opportunities to gain new experiences and willing to try their hand at different positions. They are eager to gain new skills needed for new roles and are fearless in steering in different directions on the career path.
“This is especially common in Millennials, as they are always looking for new challenges and opportunities to grow. If they feel like they are stuck in a rut, they will not hesitate to leave their current job.” as Ruth Jessica said.
2) Insufficient Compensation & Benefits
Money has always been a great driver of high churn levels, especially in today’s economy. Inflation is reaching an all-time high, increasing the consumer price index by 9.1% in June 2022, the largest increase in 40 years.
Ruth Jessica agrees that low salaries and benefits are major motives for people to quit. She said, “If they feel like they are not being paid enough for their work, it can make going to work every day a nightmare.”
Hence, workers are no longer willing to try and make ends meet by staying in their current roles and having a second job or a side hustle. If they aren’t happy with their earnings, they quietly quit their current positions and look for better-paid jobs with better benefits.
In fact, according to Pew Research Center’s report, 24% of adults who quit had low income, compared to 18% with middle income and 114% with high salaries.
The report also shows that more than half of those who decided to leave their employer and found a job elsewhere earn more and have access to flexible benefits.
3) Necessity for Flexibility
“First, there was the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Ebnu Sudarso commented, “When most offices allowed employees to work from home, there were some companies that did not give their employees the same privilege.”
Nowadays, employees don’t regard flexibility and remote working as a privilege.
In fact, they believe that it should be the norm. If their company doesn’t offer flexible and remote working schedules, employees look for them in other organizations.
In both of the previously mentioned surveys, lack of flexibility is among the top reasons people resigned. The aspiration to design one’s working schedule and WFH is also confirmed by CareerBuilding’s findings, which show that flexible vacancies receive seven times more applicants than in-person ones.
4) Uninspiring & Uncaring Managers
Natasha Delisle-Barrow, Head of People at GooseChase, said, “Employee experience is based on a number of factors; however, the one with the biggest impact on employee retention is leadership.
When you look at the employee lifecycle, managers directly impact every aspect of an employee’s journey. From onboarding to recognition and reward to their sense of belonging and well-being.”
Humu’s State of the Manager report supports this claim.
According to their findings, workers are 7.9 times more likely to stay at their job if they have a manager who takes action and provides personalized development opportunities.
As Natasha Delisle-Barrow puts it, “We all know the saying “people leave managers, not companies” and it’s truer now more than ever.”
The conversations about why so many people quit their jobs almost always revolve around the reasons for stepping down. But what do the quitters do after they hand in their resignations?
Many people look for jobs with different employers in different industries. In fact, 65% of quitters opted to work in a different industry than they did before.
Consumer/retail, public and social sector, finance, and insurance are the industries that suffered the most significant job losses: 65% to 75% of employees who left did not return to the respective sectors.
However, it’s not only that they don’t want to work in the same sectors – people aren’t interested in traditional full-time jobs anymore. Instead, many take on untraditional roles such as part-time positions, freelancing, or becoming gig workers.
Many are also choosing to become their own boss.
In an April press release, the White House reported that in 2021, new business applications grew by more than 30%, with 5.4 million people wanting to start their own businesses.
This mobility between industries and traditional vs. non-traditional employment has made way for two significant employment trends.
First, with many people cruising among different industries, employers are now eliminating degrees from their hiring criteria and focusing on skills. Hence, college graduates need learning opportunities such as internships and apprenticeships to help them gain experience to be able to compete in today’s tight labor market.
Secondly, the desire for flexibility has pushed ahead the gig economy and hindered traditional work. This has also changed the recruiting process, emphasizing the necessity to meet job seekers’ needs rather than aligning them with company interests.
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Despite the sharp increase in job vacancies, employment projections have a favorable view of the future of employment.
According to BLS’s projections, the U.S. economy will experience an increase of 8.3 million jobs from 2021 to 2031. The total number of employees will rise from 158.1 million to 166.5 million. However, the annual growth percentage of 0.5 will be slower than the 1.0% yearly growth recorded between 2011 to 2021.
The Australian government also projects that employment will rise over the following years. Their data shows four industries will absorb more than three-fifths of the total growth: health care and social assistance, accommodation and food services, professional, scientific, and technical services, and education and training.
The employment growth in Europe between 2020 to 2030 is estimated at 5. However, within the EU, some countries are projected to experience an increase, but others’ employment rates will drop, based on Cedefop’s projections.
Considering the sectors, most people will steer clear from agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, and quarrying. In contrast, accommodation, food, and the health and social care sector will attract more new workers.
The last few years have utterly changed almost every person’s life. Hence, it only makes sense for work-related issues and dissatisfaction to surface.
Now is the time for companies to ask why are so many people quitting their jobs and use insights to make meaningful changes in their fight to recruit, attract, and retain talent.
- Majority of workers who quit a job in 2021 cite low pay, no opportunities for advancement, feeling disrespected
- The Great Attrition is making hiring harder. Are you searching the right talent pools?
- Opinion: Why so many workers are still quitting their jobs
- The 5 Reasons People Are Quitting Their Jobs During The Great Resignation