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Is The Great Resignation Turning into The Great Regret?

Date Published: August 25, 2022 | Last Updated: September 15, 2023 | By Accurate Background

Over the past year, employers have thrown their hands up in frustration in response to the number of historic quits, a phenomenon that’s been dubbed, “The Great Resignation.” However, is all of this coming to a halt? Continue reading below to learn how a new shift may turn The Great Resignation into “The Great Regret.”

A Look Back on The Great Resignation

For over a year, the red-hot job market left employees everywhere feeling empowered to take control of their situation to say, “I quit.” This cultural phenomenon contributed to a growing movement of people fed up with their jobs, even taking to social media to share “quit toks”, LinkedIn posts on quitting, and more. And as the number of resignations continued to skyrocket each month, more and more individuals decided to throw in the towel in an effort to reclaim a new and exciting opportunity. Even Beyonce’s new hit, Break My Soul, became the latest chant to represent The Great Resignation, with search queries around “how to resign” and “great resignation” jumping by 350% and 1,550%, respectively, in the 24 hours after the song was released.

This sentiment became so strong that the world searched for “how to start a business” more than “how to get a job” in 2021. The hashtag, #thegreatresignation, garnered over 1.1 million views on TikTok, while a subreddit called “antiwork” became one of the most active pages with more than 2.1 million users, highlighting how fed-up people were with their current work situation due to a variety of factors.

“Everyone has hit their limit with COVID, overwork, their mortgages, rent payments and so many things with capitalism.”- Doreen Ford, moderator of “antiwork”.

To many Americans and others around the globe, The Great Resignation represented a chance to start over and create a new path for themselves. While not the only factor, COVID-19 played a significant role in showing Americans that a new way to work was possible. Discussions around work-life balance, freedom, and flexibility all became a part of the theme job seekers envisioned for themselves in their future careers.

As a response, employers have been in a race to retain and attract their best talent, through hefty compensation packages, increased PTO benefits, flexible work benefits, and more. Analysts, industry leaders, and thought leaders all encouraged companies to reinvent their acquisition and retention packages, heeding a warning that they may suffer from a talent shortage if they chose not to address employee demands.

Regrets around The Great Resignation

Fast forward to today – where the labor market remains favorable toward employees, but many believe that may come to a slowdown as we see companies announce layoffs, talks of a recession grow, and inflation continues to rise.

In addition, new data from Joblist’s Q2 2022 U.S. Job Market Report shows that out of the millions of Americans who quit their job throughout the Great Resignation are starting to have regrets. Out of the one-quarter of Americans who quit and regret their decision, 42% state that their new job did not live up to their expectation.

The number one reason why 40% of respondents have regretted quitting is due to leaving without a career offer lined up, finding that the job market was much more complex than they expected, even in this tight labor market. Respondents also cited other reasons they regret quitting, with 22% of people missing their old coworkers, 17% stating that the new job isn’t what it was described to be, and 16% finding that their old job was better than they realized.

In addition, it turns out that perhaps The Great Resignation only benefitted a specific subset of employees, specifically tech workers. Tech employees were able to take advantage of the unique labor market to land themselves in better roles with work flexibility and higher pay, in addition to amenities such as gym memberships and catered lunches.

Another factor that contributed to the number of resignations during The Great Resignation was the 2.4 million Americans who retired in the first 18 months of the pandemic than expected. However, this is slowly changing as we see ex-retirees return to the workforce. Joblist’s study found that 27% of respondents in the survey are returning to work for financial reasons, including inflation and the stock market performance as contributing factors. An overwhelming majority of ex-retirees (60%) are returning to the workforce because they are looking for something to do. It could be that as concerns around the pandemic ease, ex-retirees are looking forward to a new start by rejoining the workforce.

Uncertain Economic Outlook

With inflation and interest rates rising, people are starting to have growing fears around economic uncertainty, with 80% of job seekers expecting a recession within the next year and 60% feeling urgency to find a job sooner rather than later.

Those who have been able to secure pay raises with their current or new company are finding that inflation has outpaced their pay increases. Even confidence in the highly sought-out tech industry has started to waver, as top tech companies such as Netflix conduct layoffs or implement hiring freezes. So far, 364 startups have laid off 53,604 employees.

Is The Great Resignation Coming to an End?

The Great Resignation has been a force made entirely possible by unique factors including retirement, burnout from COVID-19, relocation, fiscal stimulus programs, and more. However, if the economic outlook continues to remain uncertain, coupled with rising costs, workers likely won’t be so quick to jump ship.

Only time can tell how the labor market will respond to these concerns and whether companies will be able to remain resilient. For the time being, job openings are still at record highs and employers should continue to focus on best practices for employee retention and acquisition.

Accurate is here to help you seamlessly hire and retain talent no matter the circumstance. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you put your best foot forward.