great resignation


Microsoft’s Annual Work Trends Index reported recently that 41% of the global workforce is thinking of leaving their jobs. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a 20 year record when 4 million people quit their jobs in April 2021. Have we survived the Great Pandemic to now experience an economy-busting Great Resignation?

No Pandemic Resignations

Because of the uncertainty around the pandemic people who would have quit their jobs didn’t. That means there are fifteen months of resignations that didn’t happen as they would have normally. According to the BLS there were 6 million fewer resignations in 2020 than there were in 2019. This backlog of resignations is just now beginning to happen contributing to the great resignation.

Cost of Quitting Lower

People stay in jobs because the costs of leaving are higher than the costs of staying. This is not all dollars and cents. Burnout has always been a key contributor to voluntary turnover. With the change to working from home with new technology, new processes and full-time access to the “home” office, employees are working harder and longer. At the same time costs associated with quitting have decreased. The pandemic allowed many Americans to reduce expenses, pay off debt and save money. The savings rate went as high as 30% in a country that typically saves 5% on an annual basis. High employee burnout and enhanced financial security contributes to a great resignation.

Life and Job Pivots

Seventy-two percent of workers planning to quit say the pandemic caused them to reassess their skill set. Half of these workers sought out new training opportunities and new skill development during the pandemic. People also re-evaluated what was important in their lives. This chance for introspection has people making major life changes. They are choosing to quit their jobs to go back to school, start a business, stay home with their children or retire early.

Remote Work

Millions of Americans experienced working remotely for the first time because of the pandemic, and many of those people found they liked it. Full-time remote work means the entire country is an option for a job change instead of just your preferred city, making changing jobs much easier and, perhaps, more likely. Workers can find jobs that pay better, have more opportunities to learn and advance and provide better benefits or better work-life balance, without moving their home base.

Employers are resisting the 100% remote work model because workers are less “tied” to their companies, less invested in the company culture. This disconnect can lead to a reduced level of collaboration and less innovation. Employers do seem more receptive to a hybrid model where there is some time spent in the office as well as some remote work. Sixty-eight percent of workers feel this balance is the ideal workplace model. As Rob Falzon, Prudential Financial Vice Chair, said, “If you’re an employer and you’re not being accommodating, you’ll lose talent.”…and contribute to the great resignation.

Interested in hiring or starting a job search? Contact Smith Hanley Associates’ Pharmaceutical Sales and Marketing Executive Recruiter, Nancy Ragonese at

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