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    The Great Resignation: Explained

    February 8, 2022

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    the great resignation
    Avi Jain
    Written By
    Avi Jain

    Is the Great Resignation, a Great Re-evaluation or a Great Awakening or a Great Discontent, or a Great Re-thinking? Let us dive deep and demystify! 

    What is the Great Resignation? 

    The Great Resignation is a fancy term that is used to define the huge number of people leaving their current jobs, at an unprecedented rate, to look for better opportunities. In simpler words, the Great Resignation is a shift in priorities with people contemplating leaving their jobs. In fact, Great Resignation is increasingly being seen as the ‘Great Awakening’ by some. Also termed as the ‘Big Quit’, it began in the year 2021 and was majorly prevalent in the IT industry. 

    A phenomenon that, a year or two ago, no one would have even fathomed became a reality due to the onset of the Pandemic. With all the major shifts and realizations occurring at the workplace, employees began to look at this time as an opportunity to invest in themselves to fast-forward their careers or even take a break to comprehend things better.  

    One of the biggest fallacies around the Great Resignation is the fact that it is being seen as the ‘quit’ while it actually is not. In hindsight, The Great Resignation is only a ‘Job Hop’ with the low-income community as the major focus group. Coined by the American psychologist Anthony Klotz, the “Great Resignation” is a call to remap priorities in the work-life equation brought about by the Pandemic.  

    What led to the Great Resignation?

    If anything, the pandemic has resulted in reforms in all areas of life. Although the pandemic was not the sole cause of the "Great Resignation", it was a significant factor in accelerating the process in which most employees felt compelled to reconsider their current situation at work. 

    This phenomenon of extensive resignations, although more conspicuous in the IT sector, equally affected hospitality, healthcare, social assistance, transportation, warehousing, and utilities as well. A general trend that was quite observable during this period of mass departure was the fact that low-wage workers were resigning more than their higher-paid counterparts. 

    Causes of the Great Resignation 

    1. The lack of FLEXIBILITY  

    Work from home or work from anywhere is now a reality. One major reason why employees felt the need to switch jobs was when companies began calling them back to work on-site. In the months following the epidemic, it became evident that working from home had no negative impact on productivity. According to research from the WFH Project, while higher pay and lucrative benefits are a reason to stay, people value the flexibility to work from home as much as they would, a pay hike.  

     2. Increased BURNOUT 

    If employees do not enjoy their work and if the work does not challenge them, it is highly likely that they will feel burnout. High-skilled employees in the lower-wage sector have been quitting their jobs due to burnout and stress. They may feel unhappy even when the work pays well because money is not a factor here, satisfaction is. A lot of these people contemplated during the pandemic and either moved on to pursue their passion or switched to finding a job role that feels more demanding. 

    Employers fail to address this issue because they fail to acknowledge that burnout exists in their workplace in the first place. 

     3. Unfulfilled Professional EXPECTATIONS 

    Most professionals today count career progression as one of their major reasons to stay with an organization. However, if employers fail to acknowledge this, employees are bound to move to orgs that support their growth. A testimony to this fact is the report released by Skillsoft which tells that 59% of respondents who switched jobs in the past year cited a lack of growth and development opportunities as their primary reason for doing so, taking precedence over better compensation and even work-life balance. Clearly, the pandemic forced employees to reprioritize a lot of things.  

     4. VOLUNTARY decision 

    When a large number of your coworkers leave the company to pursue their passions, you may be tempted to follow suit. And some people have the courage to do so because seeing peers quit motivates them to do the same. The desire to shift into a more stable profession, the desire to experiment with other occupations and organizations, and the urge to follow one's passion, sometimes known as "pursuing one's ambitions," all contribute to voluntary decisions to resign. 

    As a result, it is not an exaggeration to suggest that the Great Resignation is boosting the passion economy. People were also spotted mentioning factors such as the fact that their current job was neither academically nor creatively satisfying. 

     5. Other MISCELLANEOUS causes 

    We cannot deny that businesses were still adjusting to the new normal and formulating regulations aimed at giving their employees a better experience. While this is true, it is understandable that employees may have felt that their employer is not taking enough pandemic health precautions, prompting them to seek out organizations that do so better. 

    Some even point to the Boomer retirement wave as one of the causes for what appears to be a large number of individuals departing, claiming that it is only natural for people of a certain age to retire. Other more common causes are related to low salary, substandard working conditions, nonexistent rewards and recognition systems, toxic work culture, and extreme expectations. 

    How can HR navigate through the Great Resignation?  

    HR professionals will have to think and respond quickly in this situation. Their actions will have an impact on how the workforce functions and perceives work. HRs will need to ensure ways to keep workers engaged and satisfied as the Great Resignation continues, which will involve a new level of flexibility that will transform the nature of when, where, and how employees work. 

    The Great Resignation exposed the new expectations that employees had as a result of the pandemic. Employee expectations have radically altered, and HR departments cannot afford to sit back while losing more of their employees. In times like these, HR professionals will need to think quickly about new ways to provide a highly engaging and rewarding work experience. And clearly, technology will play a huge role in this. To know what questions the HRs will have to keep in mind while doing so, read the well-researched blog by Darwinbox. Similarly, there are HRMS platforms that escalate this process and make it more robust. By and by, good employee engagement is ranked as the best method to retain talent. HRs will have to realize the mantra, “Employee experience is as key to the success of an organization as customer experience is. 

    Unsurprisingly, companies that report higher employee satisfaction are better at retaining their employees. Employee happiness can be boosted by providing incentives and recognition. The majority of those quitting their jobs are dissatisfied. A study by Gallup found that 74% of people looking for a new job today, post-pandemic, are disengaged, “It's not an industry, role, or pay issue,” Gallup’s team says, “it's a workplace issue.” That is to say, today's employees prioritize appreciation and flexibility over high pay and pay hikes. 

    Burnout occurs when people are deprived of new challenges and opportunities to attempt new things. Employees are roughly 12% less likely to resign when they are given new employment at their firms. As a result, to enhance productivity and foster development, HR professionals will need to not only comprehend but actively implement the concept of Career Lattice in their firms. 

    HR professionals can seek to develop policies that promote a better workplace culture. Employee turnover is less likely in such businesses. Hosting more official and informal events, offering timely benefits, development training and programs, and so on are all part of making a better workplace. This has the added benefit of providing enjoyable experiences while also fostering team relationships. 

    To aid the HRs of today, here are some tried and tested ideas and solutions for talent management in times when people are leaving their jobs in droves.  

    Future work trends shaped by the Great Resignation     

    One cannot precisely tell what might shape the future because the future is fairly subjective. What might change for some companies might remain constant for some? For instance, if we are just looking at the present scenario and assuming that the hybrid or remote work model will be the norm, we might even be wrong because of the pace at which technology and the mindset of people is changing, these concepts might also become obsolete. A fair point to note would be that the trends are just based on the numbers we have right now, and that keeps on changing at an alarming rate.  

    Given 2021 was a redefining year with the new normal, changing the way of work and the future of work, 2022 will definitely be another in the line. Let us look at some quick trends that may shape the future of work: 

    • According to a survey by ResumeBuilder, 23% of currently employed individuals plan to find a new job in 2022. This may involve seeking a job in roles that they have less or no experience in or jobs that align with their passion. 
    • The effect of the Great Resignation was particularly massive on the IT sector across countries, and this will result in even more accelerated job switches and the need for an ultra-skilled workforce. This is evident from the fact that just the Indian IT industry saw a 52% rise in the hiring of skilled professionals towards the end of 2021.  
    • We saw it coming that having a brick-and-mortar work setting is going to be less important which implies that the apprehension around remote work resulting in decreased productivity is going to reduce.  
    • Work will become much more about getting things done in a way that is effective than it will be about getting things done on a rigid schedule or in a specific environment. In other words, organizations that will excel will be the ones that change with the times and employee and consumer needs. The concept of “getting the work done” will be more significant than the “how,” “when” and “where” of work. 
    • Employees have started looking at more than growth and development at work, they value job satisfaction and experience above everything else. Organizations that will cater to this need of theirs will stand the test of time.  
    • A ton of reports suggest that people globally have been feeling stuck in their personal and professional lives for a while now and the pandemic really helped them ponder and finally act in that direction. Employees across countries are ready to regain control over their lives. What is shocking is that Indians, seem to be excessively optimistic about technology helping them: 82% of all workers want to work in a company that uses AI to boost their careers which is way ahead of the 55% global average. Technology will drive work and decisions from here on.  

    After the realizations from COVID 19, the one guiding phrase for people at work is "having a healthy work-life balance," and if organizations can support this, there is where the future talent will be.  


    The Great Resignation has been a topic of discussion for almost a year, although the scope of the phenomena is not as widespread as it appears on social media. And, while businesses will be required to implement broad improvements, they will also be required to consider the consequences. 

    The Great Resignation proved to be highly beneficial in allowing individuals to recognize that life is more than simply a job. As a result, it has been positive in certain ways. To summarize, it appears that many people are evaluating the role of work in their lives, preferring to pursue professions that they actually enjoy rather than those that are readily available. Many of them appear to be seeking to figure out how to make life work with less work, a different type of job, or different working conditions. It will be fascinating to see how things come together in the future. 

    Arianna Huffington, Co-founder of The Huffington Post, summarized the pulse around this topic quite accurately -  

    The Great Resignation is actually a Great Re-evaluation. What people are resigning from is not a Job but a culture of burnout and a broken definition of success. In quitting their Jobs, people are affirming their longing for a different way of working and living.

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