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The great resignation – why millions of US workers are quitting their jobs

Four million people quit their jobs in April alone. Nearly another million resigned in June. Typically people leaving their jobs in large numbers like this is a sign of a healthy economy. However, with the recent layoffs, shutdowns, and economic ups and downs – that’s far from the case now. What’s going on?

As pandemic life continues, more are reevaluating work and shifting priorities to focus more on what gives them fulfillment, better work-life balance, and overall happiness. Even with cash bonuses and increased wages, many industries struggle to keep their employees. 

This leads to some crucial points for employers and those considering starting their own businesses to consider as they navigate the future of life and work.

Employers need to focus on what matters most for their employees (it’s not just about money)

It’s not just about cutting a decent paycheck to those who work for you. Money matters, but only up to a certain point. Perks and bonuses can make a difference. However, putting employees first and emphasizing treating them well will ultimately make a stronger impact.

Pandemic aside, 50% of employees leave "to get away from their manager to improve their overall life at some point in their career." Additionally, a Harvard Business Review study of more than 400,000 people discovered that when employees believe that promotions are managed effectively, turnover decreases by 50%. At the same time, productivity, innovation – and even stock returns for public companies – all rise above average with excellent management.

In 2021, one out of three workers is thinking about quitting their job. Therefore, even if you run a small company with just a few employees, you must consider ways to make them feel valued beyond their paycheck.

For example, around 50% of women and about 25% of men feel burnt out at work. Are there ways you could help your employees have greater flexibility, prioritize their mental health, and feel happier overall? Consider conducting a survey or talking to those you work with directly.

The great resignation: now is an excellent time to freelance or start your own company

Alternatively, if you’re ready to quit your job or currently considering working for yourself, you’re in good company. 20% of employees are thinking about freelancing – that’s 10 million people. In just the past year, millions of people started freelancing businesses as a side hustle a few days a week or to replace their full-time jobs.

As pandemic restrictions ease, those who previously worked in offices generally aren’t excited to go back. A survey of nine million workers found that many would prefer to take a pay cut than return to the office. They also report they would search for other work if required to return full time.

In our recent discussions with customers, we’ve found consistency with trends. We’ve seen small business owners adapt to the pandemic, emphasizing flexibility and family time. We’ve also seen freelancers make more money working for themselves while clocking fewer hours. Our online freelance community is growing rapidly. 

Is it time to quit your job?

Especially if you’re thinking of starting an online company, the pandemic has taught us that not only is remote work viable – in many ways, it’s preferable. You can avoid long commutes and build a flexible schedule to suit your family and lifestyle needs – all while being more productive. Being your own boss means you can work when you want and how you want – which, with the pandemic not going away anytime soon, matters more than ever.

On top of this, traditional headaches of running a business are becoming less of an issue. New software ease many of the struggles involved in managing taxes and staying on top of your books. Beyond that, there are more tools than ever to improve your branding, build an online presence and quickly get the help you need to get your business started.

Still, what’s clear from the great resignation of 2021 is that wherever you are in your career or business –  strong communication and putting people first will be the key to future prosperity.


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