Why millions across the World are quitting their jobs, post pandemic? The Great Resignation

Just Logically Speaking
5 min readMar 5, 2022


If reports are to be believed, about 69 million people in the U.S called quits to their conventional jobs in the year of 2021. Similar trends were seen in several European and Asian nations like U.K, Germany and China. Anthony Klotz, a professor of Management at Mays Business School, Texas, first termed this ongoing economic trend as the Great Resignation. The Great Resignation, a phenomenon which has hit the U.S most, was first observed back in July 2021, when a report from the U.S Labor department stated that about 4 million American workforces had quit their jobs. September 2021, saw record numbers of quitting which accounted to about 3% of the entire workforce. The data was staggering, given the world economy was finally showing signs of recovery from the pandemic. This trend has continued till date and if anything it has expanded to economies worldwide.

So, what exactly is causing this mass exodus from the workforce, and what exactly has changed after the pandemic? Some Harvard experts believe they have the answers.

The proof

A team at Harvard conducted an in-depth analysis of over 9 million employee records, working in more than 4,000 companies. The study concerned upon employees from a wide range of industries. The results of which showed two key trends among the resignee’s. First, was that resignation rates were the highest among the workforces aged between 30–45. Secondly, it was the Tech and Healthcare industries which took the most of the beating. Other studies revealed that the bulk of resignations were coming from the lower waged sections from the transportation and retail industries.

According to an article from the Indian Express, about 4.4% of all positions in the education sector in U.S are vacant, over a 6% in retail and more than 8% in the healthcare sector. Another concurrent study on the great resignation from MIT Sloan, shows that companies and services which rigidly focus on innovations, are the one’s which faced most resignations post-the-pandemic. The study reiterates the fact that it is the toxic corporate cultures, which is driving away people from their jobs.


The change after Covid-19 pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic brought about a drastic change on how the world would function. People got the opportunity to remotely work from their homes, with flexible schedules, minus the everyday hassle of transporting to their work. This allowed workers to rethink about factors like their careers, their long-term goals and work-conditions. And then there were those who were now seeking for opportunities which could better their work-life balance.

Also covid reliefs, stimulus packages and unemployment benefits from the government allowed the lower sections of the community, who live by paycheck to paycheck to lose gradual interest from their jobs. The covid-19 pandemic also became an era of forced resignations and layoffs, as thousands of companies ran out of business. A major shelling of workforce was seen from industries which require in-person interactions, like Hotels and Restaurants, as they were the one’s most hit by the pandemic.

Toxic work culture

The MIT Sloan study shows how emerging toxic culture is the number one reason behind this mass exodus of employees. According to this research, this was a brewing issue for workers much before the pandemic, which reached its threshold post-the-pandemic. The analysis showed how elements like failure to promote diversity, equity and inclusion among employees, with the added feeling of disrespect and unethical behaviour in work environments turned out to be the most important factor for the great resignation.

The lust for innovation

As mentioned earlier, a huge chunk of workforce left their jobs from companies that constantly push their employees towards innovation. The thing is that working on the constant edge of innovation requires employees to put long, stressful hours into their work. In addition, there is the constant pressure of striving ahead of your competitors, which takes its toll on workers. While there is the added touch of excitement for working in these companies, only a few manage to sustain the good work for longer periods of time. The work culture in these companies though not toxic, is highly competitive and fast-paced. Workers need to be on their heels for just about anytime.

Social Media culture

Some experts believe that the evolving social media culture among Gen Z’s might have a greater role in the Great Resignation. One such Reddit page named “Antiwork” gained much scrutiny for allegedly encouraging people to quit their jobs. A page which exploded in popularity during the pandemic, here users post screenshots of their text and e-mail messages of quitting their jobs. As ridiculous as it may sound, the sub-reddit has currently more than 1.5 million users. According to a Financial Times report, Goldman Sachs, a major American investment bank stated its concern, that such a movement could pose a long-term risk to labor force participation.

Impacts Worldwide

The Great Resignation’s most profound effect was seen in the United States. The year 2021, saw an unprecedented number of Americans quitting their jobs. Food services workers quit rates rose to more than 6%, which is way higher than the industry average of 4.1% in the last 20 years. The pandemic levied a huge toll upon the country’s healthcare workers, which on turn brought about more resignations. October 2021 also marked the beginning of one of the biggest organized strike waves in America. 100,000 American workers joined in to protest against poor working conditions and low wages.

Effects of the movement were also seen throughout Europe, where countries like Belgium, France, the UK, Germany and the Netherlands saw an escalation in quit rates due to Covid-related issues. Germany emerged as the worst hit in the region, where 6% of its entire workforce quit their jobs during the pandemic.

China, the second largest economy in the world saw its own form of social protests named “tang ping”. The movement gained momentum at the same time as the Great Resignation, over rejection of workers to work for long hours, and complete denial of the societal pressure associated with it.

Countries like India and Australia also witnessed large scale resignations across various sectors of the economy. India lost a bulk of its workforce in the I.T sector, with over 1 million resignations in 2021.

The Principal author of the blog Just Logically Speaking, Susanta Ray is an enthusiast for information and learning. He thrives in subjects related to Modern Technology, Science, History, Space, Finance and Global Affairs.

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