Reposted with permission from AALL Spectrum, Volume 26, Number 5 (May/June 2022), pgs 20-22.
By John DiGilio, Firmwide Director of Library Services, Sidley Austin LLP and Courtney Toiaivao, Director of Research Services, Holland & Knight LLP
What the Great Resignation can teach us about desirable workplace culture and happiness.
Much has been made of the Great Resignation, the buzzy labor market phenomenon that has seen millions of Americans leave their jobs since spring 2021. The question on so many minds right now is simple: Why? Why are people suddenly hitting the bricks in such large numbers? While it is easy to blame the ongoing pandemic, the answers—and they are multiple—go much deeper and are far more complex. Take for instance the fact that U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that over two-thirds of people who left their jobs in 2021 did so voluntarily. Roughly 69 million Americans quit their jobs since 2021, which means that 47.8 million made up their own minds that it was time to go. (View the data at bit.ly/MJ22laborstats.) The numbers have staggered employers as they try to come up with ways to retain the talent they have, as well as replace the workers who have left. At the same time, a new world of considerations and opportunities has opened for those contemplating making a change.
What Is Causing the Great Resignation?
In many ways, the timing of the Great Resignation is a direct by-product of the pandemic. Parents (often women) left jobs to manage childcare needs; employees left the labor market due to COVID concerns; older employees retired early thanks to extra savings from being in quarantine or perhaps thanks to skyrocketing housing prices that enabled some to sell at profit; and across industries, countless employees left the workforce from a deep sense of burnout and dissatisfaction. This last reason is most distressing to employers and may embolden those pondering a dash for the door.
After anxious, stressful pandemic years, often with increased hours and blurred start and end times, employees saw the boundaries of home and work blend together. Beyond trying to keep children, partners, and pets from popping into Zoom windows, employees routinely found themselves working past the hours where they would have left for home. Time that was once dedicated to the commute was now being spent working. In short, productivity got a boost, but happiness did not. In a time of great work turmoil and with many employees working remotely for the first time, Americans found themselves questioning what they truly wanted from their lives and their work.Continue reading