Updated: Nov 4th, 2021
The COVID-19 outbreak has wreaked havoc on businesses in various industrial sectors, causing massive disruption to people’s work lives. But interestingly, as we begin to emerge from the great lockdown, a record number of people are voluntarily quitting their jobs.
According to the United States Department of Labor, 2.7% of the US workforce quit in April 2021, the highest ever recorded at the time. Since then, that number has actually accelerated, with 2.9% of US workforce calling it quits in August 2021 . The mass exodus from the workforce since the pandemic has been dubbed “The Great Resignation.”
To better understand what’s driving their decision to leave their employers, we’ve compiled 11 insightful statistics on the Great Resignation of 2021 and how companies can better attract and retain their top talent moving forward.
- What is the Great Resignation?
- 1. 94% of US Retailers Are Having Difficulty Filling Vacant Positions
- 2. 41% of Workers Across the Globe Are Considering Leaving Their Jobs
- 4. 55% of American Workers plan to Look for a New Job
- 3. Gen Z feel Most Under Appreciated and Under Paid during the Great Resignation
- 5. Only 20% of the Global Workforce Is Engaged
- 6. Americans want to Continue Working Remotely
- 7. 66% of Business Leaders Say They’re Considering Redesigning Office Spaces for Hybrid Work
- 8. Remote Work Is a Top Priority for Gen Z and Millennial Employees
- 9. 46% of the Global Workforce Are Planning to Relocate to a New Location
- 10. Digital Overload Continues Climbing as High Productivity Masks an Exhausted Workforce
- 11. Workers Equate Personal Time With Pay
What is the Great Resignation?
The term “The Great Resignation” was coined in 2019 by Anthony C. Klotz, a professor at Texas A&M University . He predicted that workers would start to resign en masse following the pandemic as burnout and working remotely trigger a shift in people’s identities.
Having experienced the increased flexibility and better work-life balance that working from home has yielded, Anthony says that in this pandemic, “a lot of people now realize, ‘I’m more than just my job.’” It is this realization that is the genesis of the Great Resignation.
1. 94% of US Retailers Are Having Difficulty Filling Vacant Positions
A survey of major US retailers conducted by consulting firm Korn Ferry in April 2021 found that as far as difficulty in hiring goes :
- 32% are facing significant challenges
- 29% are facing moderate challenges
- 32% are facing minor challenges
- 6% aren’t facing any challenges
The survey showed that virtually all retailers (94%) are having trouble filling empty positions in their stores. And this is despite implementing referral programs, offering sign-on bonuses, and increasing raise frequency. So money matters—but only to a degree.
2. 41% of Workers Across the Globe Are Considering Leaving Their Jobs
A Microsoft survey of over 30,000 workers across 31 countries puts those considering leaving their current jobs at a staggering 41% . The reasons cited for seeking a change included burnout, fear for personal safety, dissatisfaction, and a shift in priorities.
According to a survey conducted by LinkedIn, 74% of the participants said time spent at home during the pandemic caused them to reevaluate their current work situation. Workers that were sheltering in their current job are now flooding the market looking for better opportunities.
Losing a lot of its workforce costs companies in terms of turnover and lost productivity. To avoid this, employers should invest in their employees’ wages, opportunities, and overall well-being.
4. 55% of American Workers plan to Look for a New Job
According to a new August survey by Bankrate involving over 2,000 working Americans, 55% say they plan to look for a new job in the next 12 months . That’s a shocking figure that involves over half of the entire workforce in the country.
Diving deep into this number, it’s clear the Great Resignation is affecting certain segment of people such as minorities, younger people, and lower income workers more:
- 70% of Black people and 67% of Hispanics plan to look for a new job in the coming year, compared to 47% of White people.
- 72% of workers who earn under $30,000 per year plan to look for a new job in the coming year, compared to 44% of those who earn $80,000 and more.
- 77% of Gen Z and 63% of millennials plan to switch jobs in the next 12 months. Contrast that with baby boomers, of which only 33% plan to do the same.
3. Gen Z feel Most Under Appreciated and Under Paid during the Great Resignation
A Microsoft survey validates that the number of people with a job change on their mind was highest among Gen Z (young people born between 1997-2012). This is because career-wise, last year was most challenging for this group of people, which are most susceptible to being overworked, under appreciated and under paid.
The table below shows how much more Gen Z are likely to say they are struggling than older generations in various aspects of work.
|I struggle to bring new ideas to the table||I struggle to get a word in during meetings||I don’t feel engaged or excited about work|
5. Only 20% of the Global Workforce Is Engaged
Most current job-holders are doing the bare minimum or are actively disengaged, according to Gallup. The State of the Global Workplace report found that global employee engagement is 20%, while in the US and Canada that number is slightly higher at 34%.
Research by Gallup shows that employees that are less than engaged quit often because they tend to be unhappy and stressed. Also, it takes more than a 20% pay raise to poach an engaged employee.
6. Americans want to Continue Working Remotely
Pandemic or not, flexible work is here to stay. Some companies have already switched to long-term remote work, allowing their employees to work from home permanently. It’s a trend that American employers need to get ahead of, according to a recent Bankrate survey .
A Prudential Survey showed that 1 in 3 Americans would not want to work for an employer that doesn’t offer at least partial remote working. This underscores the importance of remote work in retaining knowledge workers during the Great Resignation. 
The August 2021 Job Seeker Survey found that now Americans value workplace flexibility (56%) more than higher pay (53%) and job security (47%).
7. 66% of Business Leaders Say They’re Considering Redesigning Office Spaces for Hybrid Work
Employees want control of where, when, and how they work. And according to the Microsoft WTI report , they want the best of both worlds: remote work options (73%) and in-person time with coworkers (67%).
68% of American workers prefer a Hybrid Workplace Model according to a large survey of over 2,000 full time workers. 
To offer their employees flexible work arrangements, 66% of business decision-makers said they were considering transforming their workspaces to accommodate a hybrid workforce. A recent KayoCloud survey 8 confirms the same, finding that 82% of individuals with budgetary authority in their businesses envision a hybrid work model.
8. Remote Work Is a Top Priority for Gen Z and Millennial Employees
Workplace flexibility for some groups of workers is now the top priority.
According to the Workforce Pulse Survey by PwC, 45% of Gen Z and 47% of millennial employees would give up 10% or more of their future earnings for an opportunity to work remotely. Only 38% of the Gen Xers and only 14% of boomers would agree to the same. 
The Microsoft WTI report reaches similar conclusions, finding that women, Gen Z, and those without a degree are more drawn to remote opportunities. Younger employees may find remote work attractive due to the flexible schedules that come with it.
9. 46% of the Global Workforce Are Planning to Relocate to a New Location
The sudden shift to working from home saw remote job postings on LinkedIn increase more than fivefold during the pandemic. And many workers can’t wait to take advantage of these job opportunities to expand their career and economic opportunities.
The Microsoft WTI reports that 46% of remote workers plan to relocate. And many already have. A survey conducted by PwC found that 12% of employees had moved more than 50 miles from their office location since the pandemic began. 
10. Digital Overload Continues Climbing as High Productivity Masks an Exhausted Workforce
Despite self-assessed productivity remaining the same or going up, 45% employees globally report feeling overworked . 5. One of the culprits is digital overload as communication moves online:
- 48% of employees feel more pressure to be online all the time since working remotely. 
- Employees are conducting 50% more video meetings since the pandemic. 
11. Workers Equate Personal Time With Pay
The PwC survey found that employees want to work for companies that support their pursuit of personal endeavors they consider meaningful. So much so that they’re willing to give up potential salary raises in exchange for non-traditional benefits like unlimited vacation time and paid time off to volunteer for a cause of their choice.
And this is particularly true for younger workers. According to an IBM Institute for Business Value survey, only 29% of Gen Z indicated competitive pay and benefits were crucial to their engagement, compared to 49% of workers above 55. So organizations looking to retain or earn back young talent should revise their non-monetary benefits. 
Following these data insights, employers should embrace flexibility in the workplace and proactively engage their employees to understand their needs better. Only then will they attract the best talent.