Last year, 47 million people in the United States voluntarily resigned and set a record. Many people called it a “big resignation”. They believed that this was a unique sequela after the epidemic. However, according to an analysis by Harvard Business Review, the big resignation did not appear in the air, but existed before the epidemic. The trend, the force behind Americans leaving their jobs, will survive the pandemic.
There is now a shortage of labor everywhere in the United States, and some business establishments have been forced to reduce operating hours. However, the analysis believes that if it is extended to more than ten years, the resignation now is not a short-term turbulence caused by the epidemic. The resignation rate has been rising in the past few years. In the U.S., with stimulus checks and uncertainty waning, people are starting to quit their jobs, and simply put, many would probably quit in 2020 if there wasn’t a pandemic.
The article analyzes five factors behind the big resignation: retirement, relocation, reconsideration, reshuffle, and reluctance. The epidemic is just a combination of the five to produce all the changes in the labor market. One of the important factors is the early retirement of older workers, who may have wanted to retire in the first place, just as the stock market surged and residential property values rose, giving them more confidence to act. The pattern of older workers leaving is very different from the last financial crisis. During the 2007-2009 Great Recession, the labor force participation rate over the age of 55 increased by 1%, and fell by 1.9% during the current outbreak.
As for the relocation, there were not as many as expected. The report pointed out that while the article on high-skilled knowledge workers abandoning expensive areas for scenic spots is appealing, the fact that relocation is not the reason for the big resignation. Overall liquidity in 2021 is the lowest in more than 70 years of records. Since the 1980s, relocation rates have been steadily declining, and the pandemic has not reversed the trend.
The third point is to rethink the meaning of work. Deaths and serious illness from the pandemic have made people reconsider their priorities in life, with women more affected than men, and younger people more severely than older adults. Especially in white-collar industries such as consulting and finance, grassroots personnel experience severe job burnout. Due to heavy business during the epidemic, grassroots personnel have not received training or growth rewards, or benefited from customer interaction, which has changed young people’s tolerance for such work.
Instead of quitting the workforce, many reshuffle. In industries with the highest turnover rates, employers responded by sharply raising wages to attract workers, according to an analysis by the Brookings Institution. For example, in 2021, McDonald’s will increase its hourly wages by 10%, and also improve benefits such as emergency childcare, paid leave and tuition reimbursement. As a result, the number of employees will be successfully expanded in 2021, and the staffing at the end of the year will be higher than that at the beginning of the year. Walmart also announced that it will pay 100% of college tuition and books for employees over five years, hoping to attract employees and increase employee retention rates. The reluctance of many employees to return to the office after the epidemic is also one of the reasons for the mass resignation.
The Quartz analysis pointed out that the fact that so many people have resigned is the result of a systematic failure to pay attention to workers in the United States. The article accuses the United States of long-term emphasis on business-friendly policies and shareholder-centricity, becoming the most demanding country for labor in advanced economies, lacking paid leave, not supporting childcare, and lacking support during the epidemic, not to mention the federal minimum wage for more than ten years. Did not go up. Harvard Review believes that resigning now is just a continuation of the pre-pandemic trend, a reality that American employers may have to contend with in the next few years.