The great resignation

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The great resignation

The great resignation was one of the defining terms of 2021. In the wake of COVID-19 vaccinations; resignations in the US ran at a consistently high record rate.1

There is no definitive explanation of why the great resignation is happening. There may be a number of contributing factors:

  • COVID-19 had temporarily stemmed that natural level of resignations and taking on new jobs in the market. Glassdoor had estimated that there were 3.7 million less people quoting their jobs than their should have been during the COVID period.2
  • The pressure to return back to the office is driving push back from some employees. For instance, staff at Apple have been vocal about leaving3 and there has been a noticeable exit in staff at Jeff Bezos’ space travel business Blue Origin that CNBC wrote a story about.4
  • Others believe that the high level of resignations is due to staff burnout.5 As staff quit and businesses work on trying to replace them, this is likely to add additional pressure on employees, particularly in the services sectors.

The first recorded use of the great resignation was a quote from organisational psychologist Anthony Klotz in an article by Bloomberg Businessweek.6

Solving the great resignation

In terms of solving the great resignation, McKinsey is already looking at new models of working for employers to adopt, including flow to work operating models7 that seem to be a tactical way to address talent gaps.

the great resignation dynamic talent allocation
Source: McKinsey & Company

However dynamic talent allocation is more likely to break team and personal bonds; creating added flow to the great resignation in the medium term. More related content here.

More information

1 Kaplan, J. & Kiersz, A. (September 8, 2021). Another 4 million workers quit for the fourth month in a row, and it shows how Americans are rethinking working in a way they haven’t in decades. United States: Business Insider

2 Kaplan, J. (September 8, 2021). 3.7 million more people would have quit their jobs by now if not for the pandemic. United States: Business Insider

3 Espósito, F. (July 15, 2021). Apple employees say they will leave the company as it denies remote work requests. United States: 9to5Mac

4 Sheetz, M. (October 1, 2021). Turmoil at Bezos’ Blue Origin: Talent exodus came after CEO’s push for full return to the office. United States: CNBC

5 Mayer, K. (September 30, 2021). What’s behind the Great Resignation? Blame burnout. United States: Human Resource Executive

6 Cohen, A. (May 10, 2021) How to Quit Your Job in the Great Post-Pandemic Resignation Boom. United States: Bloomberg Businessweek

7 Foote, E., Hancock, B. & Malan, R. (September 1, 2021) The key role of dynamic talent allocation in shaping the future of work. United States: McKinsey & Company