The seismic shift in people’s attitudes towards their jobs, which resulted in mass quitting last year, shows no signs of slowing, talent experts say.
It’s a trend that’s been given many names — the Great Resignation, the Great Rethink, the Great Reshuffle, the Great Reimagination. But regardless of snappy titles — experts predict career switching will remain a workplace fixture in 2022.
“For many, this period of time [the past two years] has challenged us to reconsider how and where we want to live, and what we want to dedicate our precious time to be doing every day,” said Kimberley Mullins, director of talent at the e-commerce site Shopify. “We are seeing many people rethink how they had previously defined their own career success.”
The so-called Great Resignation of 2021, in which over 47 million people voluntarily left their jobs (more than the population of Spain) wasn’t only driven by rage quitting and childcare needs. Around half of all employed adults who quit that year did so to change their occupation entirely, according to Pew Research analysis.
People have shared their personal epiphany moments, when the pandemic conditions inspired them to go in a totally new direction: corporate executives left their jobs to set up their own bakeries, warehouse workers retrained as software engineers, dentists became beauty business owners and acclaimed playwrights became educational policy makers.
So far in 2022, over 4 million people have resigned each month either to seek new jobs or changing careers entirely, according to data compiled by U.K. business advisors Willis Towers Watson.
Talent experts stress that it’s still a good time for people to change jobs. “[T]his is the best time to do so as many companies and industries are constantly hiring to fill open positions,” said Eric Holwell, senior vp of strategy at Bayard Advertising, a talent acquisition firm. Plus, the mass resignations have put employers on the back foot and employees squarely “in the driver’s seat” when looking for new openings, he added.
Here are some of the reasons why people continue to switch jobs in 2022:
Inflation is savaging the bank accounts of many families, running at over 8% — a figure unseen in four decades. While some bosses are boosting pay to keep or attract employees, the annual wage inflation rate from U.S. government is 5.6% — less than inflation but at a level the Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell fears will fuel the upward spiral in prices and demand.
A Harris poll, conducted last year, determined the most likely candidates to swap occupations — 59%, were people in the middle-income bracket, earning between $50,000 and $75,000 a year.
“Many employees are…concerned about high inflation rates and if their salary matches the current market,” said Bayard’s Holwell, highlighting the role wages play in evaluating career changes. “This is another aspect to consider [about changing careers], especially if you are not being compensated enough for the work you do and want a more competitive or above-market salary.”
Rigid return-to-office policies
Workers juggling jobs and their personal lives are searching for a better work-life balance. Pandemic lockdowns afforded many the chance to work at home under more flexible daily schedules.
“Many companies are starting to transition back into the office, which eliminates remote work and flexible scheduling that many have come to enjoy,” said Holwell. Led by the giants of the financial services and technology industries, companies are calling their employees back to the office, for at least some days of the week.
But for some, the policies may not be flexible enough. “If this is a crucial component when it comes to your job, and your current employer is not implementing this anymore, this is something to consider when deciding if now is the time for a career change with a company that implements these perks,” said Holwell.
Shopify’s Mullins believes any rigid back-to-office decisions will be deal breakers for some people, and will lead to more career or job switches. “The pandemic has forced companies to rethink where and how we work. It’s imperative for employees to select an organization that works for their needs,” she added.
A big factor for workers considering a career change is that their current bosses aren’t cutting it, often failing to recognize the contributions employees make to their companies. Feeling undervalued is a top reason people quit across a range of age groups, according to a recent survey by market research firm PlanBeyond.
Labor management experts say a few of employee’s biggest turnoffs are: micromanagement; failure to discuss workers’ career goals; and not giving feedback. Plus, bosses can change a toxic workplace environment by encouraging collaboration among their staff; understanding what drives employees and providing opportunities to work on different projects, take enrichment programs or redefine their roles to ensure they are fulfilled.
These criteria become even more valuable as the workforce moves away from pandemic protocols to hybrid working, where there will be a mix of people in the office and working remotely.
“Our days are always impacted by the leadership we interact with… it’s important for leaders to adapt to employees’ needs by giving them room to flourish while also meeting their requirements for balance,” said Mullins.
“Individual employees also have a responsibility to be upfront and honest with their leaders about what they need and want from their work experience. Open communication in both directions, leads to better decisions and clarity for both leaders and employees,” she added.