All around the country, millions of working citizens have been handing in their two weeks’ notices. This phenomenon, which began in spring of 2021, has been referred to as the “Big Quit” or the “Great Resignation,” and has left businesses across the nation crippled and desperate.
In September alone, around 4.4 million workers abandoned their jobs, according to recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor. Since April, more than 15 million employees have walked out of their places of employment without returning.
Regardless of students’ majors or interests, what happens in the world of work impacts everyone. For this reason, those who oversee Concordia College’s Lorentzsen Center for Faith and Work have centered this year’s events around the importance of meaningful work.
Per Anderson, the Interim Director of the Lorentzsen Center, emphasizes the significance of shaping ethical, competent leaders in the workforce, as well as the societal need for purposeful work.
“Work is important in human affairs,” Anderson said. “Work can be good. It can be meaningful. It can and should serve the needs of the world.”
Last Thursday, the Lorentzsen Center hosted “The Big Quit: Why Millions of Americans are Leaving Their Jobs.” Two experienced employers, one of a for-profit business and the other of a non-profit organization, shared their experiences with and interpretations of the Big Quit.
Jill Berg, one of the two speakers and the owner and president of Spherion, a sizable employment agency that operates out of multiple states, said the Big Quit is a result of numerous factors, such as built-up dissatisfaction in the workforce with the pandemic acting as a catalyst.
“I truly believe the trend was there prior to the pandemic,” Berg said. “However, I do believe that the pandemic drastically escalated it.”
Berg says that the pandemic has led to workers rethinking their careers, goals and priorities. Erica Johnsrud of Fargo, North Dakota, is among the millions of Americans who have contemplated the conditions and significance of their careers and concluded that terminating their employment is the best route to take in their lives.
Like many others, Johnsrud had been exploring other potential career opportunities for quite some time. As the pandemic persisted, though, Johnsrud began to more closely examine her priorities and goals, concluding that her place of employment was no longer a good fit for her and that a change was well overdue.
“The longer it went on, the more I was reevaluating and going back to following my gut and wanting to figure out what was next for me,” Johnsrud said.
In spring of last year, Johnsrud resigned from the Ronald McDonald House, a charity that aims to support the well-being of children and families. Now employed at Dale Carnegie Training, Johnsrud is grateful to have made the difficult decision to take advantage of the new career opportunity.
Unlike Johnsrud, about 40% of those who chose to forsake their previous employment had no other job lined up, according to statistics released by the U.S. Department of Labor. The industry that has been impacted most profoundly by the Big Quit is the service industry. Food service workers were among the highest resignation rates, with an average of 6.8% of workers calling it quits. Also among the highest quit rates are healthcare workers and educators.
For individuals looking for work, there are more opportunities now than there were before the phenomenon, due to the plethora of unfilled positions. The power dynamic in the workplace has shifted, too; employees can now demand better working conditions or higher pay. Employers who are already short-staffed may have to accommodate employees’ requests to avoid losing even more of their workforce. Many businesses looking for employees are also offering notably higher wages or additional compensation.
“It’s an employee’s world,” Berg said. “They have every opportunity in front of them. You’re seeing businesses snatching up talent, and they’re paying significantly more with huge sign-on bonuses.”
This trend is expected to continue over the next several months.