The COVID-19 pandemic shook the world. Not only did it take lives, but also destabilized economies and disrupted big plans.
Several months after the pandemic has ended the labour market is recording a mass exit or, for the lack of better words, occupational mobility of workers. While it may have left employers confused at first, experts are shedding light on the reasons for the mass resignation.
The global corporate exodus
Imagining that life would go back to the pre-pandemic standards would spur disappointment, considering the post-pandemic reality.
One group that has experienced the most shocking turn of events is employers of labour. During the pandemic, a lot of companies laid-off workers. About 13.6 million people were unemployed as of August, 2020. Most non-essential businesses had to operate remotely.
Employers must have imagined that the workers who kept their jobs during the layoffs would be too grateful to complain, much less quit. The statistics, however, tell a different story.
The Bureau of Labour Statistics released a report on October 12, 2021 revealing that over 4 million people had quit their jobs by the end of August. This is remarkable because job openings had not increased, rather they had dropped by 659,000 jobs as the rate of resignations increased to 2.9 percent.
Furthermore, a global survey by Microsoft showed that about 41% of workers are ready to leave their jobs in search of greener pastures within the next year. 46% of those workers are considering changing careers entirely.
Sadly, this resignation wave reaches more than one sector of the U. S. economy. Real estate, food services, retail, education and so on, with virtually no sector untouched.
Why are people leaving their jobs?
Almost everyone would argue that economic instability caused by the pandemic would make workers want to keep their job desperately. But, as you probably already know, human behavior is not entirely predictable. Nevertheless, our behaviors could be 93% predictable. So, is the mass action of staffers in a post-pandemic era.
A strongly recuperating economy (market) and high job openings (demand for labor) can spur such a massive movement. This is in hopes of better pay and more benefits. However, in this feeble economy, a lot of these staffers are quitting to start a business or relocate to other countries in search of a better work-life balance.
Despite the high demand for talents, entrepreneurial desires or need to join the growing global economy while working overseas, the actual reason why people choose to move onto other things from their current job is not far-fetched. Some of the reasons are briefly discussed below.
Pandemic policy conflicts
The pandemic put a test to the so-called emergency procedures and policies of most organizations. Lack of timely and adequate response to the public health and safety issues brought on by the pandemic has frustrated many workers to the point of quitting their jobs.
Essential workers had to bear the brunt of poor leadership and policies that arose in response to the pandemic. Some retail workers were left to interact with customers without adequate safety tools or special provisions set aside if they got sick on the job.
In the health sector, public health officials are leaving their stations due to threats from the public and political pressure from government officials. Many of the health workers had reported harassment from members of the public who disagreed with how they dealt with the coronavirus outbreak.
But the bigger issue was politics. Dr. Aimee Sisson, former Placer County public health director resigned after the board of supervisors voted to end the local COVID-19 health emergency declaration against her expert advice.
Seeing the rapid death toll during the pandemic got people thinking. Many realized that life is too short to stay at a job that makes them feel unhappy and undervalued. And they had some time to think deeply about how fulfilling their jobs were.
Also, the work-from-home system was an eye-opener. Some employers increased staffers’ workload, almost expecting them to work around the clock. Considering the lapses in job satisfaction, workers began to adopt new priorities. They wanted a job that provides flexibility, respected work-life boundaries, and offers opportunities to move up the career ladder.
A large number of staffers left to work with companies that had shown empathy and prioritized worker welfare during the pandemic. Even though these job changes sometimes come with a pay cut, workers have shown that the paycheck is not the only reason they showed up to work every day.
Another factor that may have driven the great resignation is the opportunity to earn more money. A survey of about 2,000 workers shows that 1 in 5 people changed jobs the past year and 26% of those changes were made for the sake of better wages and benefits.
Sylvia Allegretto, co-chair of the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics at UC Berkeley believes that the rise in quits is a sign that workers are gaining more bargaining power. This is evident in the pay increase and bonuses that companies are now willing to pay as incentives to would-be employees.
Big brands like Best Buy and Target have increased their wages while Amazon is offering hiring bonuses ranging from $200 to $1,000. Even with measures like these, companies are still not getting a flood of willing workers.
Poor company culture
Many businesses have great culture policies on paper while they have failed to implement them in the actual workplace. The pandemic amplified the incompetencies of company managers who were doing the bare minimum to create a safe, stable and inspiring working environment.
A recent Stanford study showed that pandemic-related decisions made by some of these companies put profit above the welfare of workers. For many, it was the pivotal moment where they had had enough. So employers lost workers during and after the pandemic because of poor company leadership and an unsupportive environment.
In the remote work landscape, however, workers are still calling for companies to improve culture as 45% of remote workers report feeling dissociated from their employers.
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Additional Covid-19 Resources
Seven Post-Pandemic Responsibilities for the Controller
2021 Post-COVID Business Trends for Finance