Employees want to work for companies that match their values, will help them learn new skills to advance their careers and provide flexible and rewarding working conditions, write Cher Murphy and Jeffrey Sindone. They outline three steps leaders can take to create such an atmosphere, including asking better questions about your talent, such as candidates who don’t join your organization.
Call it what you will — The Great Resignation, The Great Reframing, The Great Realignment — but know there is something dramatic afoot in the labor market. More Americans are quitting their jobs than ever before. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that 4.3 million people, fully 2.9% of our entire workforce, quit their jobs in August – an all-time high. (U.S. Bureau of Labor)
The August figure is not an outlier; it continues a trend that began in May 2021 (see chart). The leisure and hospitality industry has experienced the highest rate of resignation (an eye-popping 6.4%, with almost one million people leaving in August alone), but every industry is seeing historically-high levels of workers quitting their jobs.
And it’s also happening at every level — from low-skilled workers to top executives. And this trend shows no signs of slowing down. Surveys estimate that as many as 47% of U.S. workers are considering changing jobs.
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Many explanations for this trend have been proffered by economists and social commentators. Anthony Klotz, a Texas A&M University economist who first called the trend “The Great Resignation,” believes that “pandemic epiphanies” have motivated many to seek better, more satisfying careers. Conservative commentators argue that expanded unemployment benefits and the forgiveness of student debt have allowed people to leave the workforce.
What’s clear is that the pandemic has upended traditional notions of work-life balance. For the first time, millions saw the benefits of working remotely, and often saw their productivity actually increase. Many of us realized that perhaps lengthy commutes are not great for our health and that striving for high performance as an employee and as a parent doesn’t need be a constant source of tension.