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Why are we facing a ‘great resignation’ period – and should you quit your job too?

A woman leaving an office carrying her possessions after resigning
With some employers choosing to ignore the evolution of work their staff are looking for new jobs that offer a better work-life balance. Photo: Getty (SeventyFour via Getty Images)

As pandemic life recedes, restrictions ease and things gradually return to normal, people are rethinking their careers. Facing a threat like COVID-19 has led many people to re-evaluate what they want, what they enjoy and what makes them happy. As a result, people are quitting their jobs in record numbers.

In the UK, many people are thinking about resigning, with a survey of 2,000 adults last year finding that 41% were considering leaving their jobs in order to find more fulfilling work. Nearly four million Americans quit their jobs in April, a 20-year record according to the Labor Department.

There are a variety of reasons why people are seeking a change, in what some have called the "great resignation" period. For some workers, the pandemic has been a wake-up call on the importance of a good work-life balance. For others, having more time at home has led them to reflect on what they want from work, encouraging them to pursue a dream job or find more meaningful work. Living through a global crisis has also brought into question whether we should live to work or work to live.


“The pandemic has allowed society to grow at a speed not thought possible beforehand. Working cultures and the ‘importance of life’ have been thrust into the limelight, with some employees realising that their raison d’etre might not have been what they previously thought,” says Jamie Beaumont, founder and CEO at Playter Pay.

“Families have moved out of large cities and young people have realised that freedom is more important than money. All of this combined has given the workforce a moment to breathe and realise that in fact the grass just might be greener elsewhere.”

Read more: Why Bumble's unlimited paid time off isn't as great as it sounds

In the aftermath of the pandemic, people are also searching for more flexibility and empathy from their employers. Some workers are making decisions to leave based on how their employers treated them during the pandemic – and whether they’ll be allowed to continue working remotely.

“Lockdown was the ultimate test for employers. Those who treated their employees with true respect and compassion have been repaid with loyalty and trust,” says Beaumont. “On the other hand, those who mistreated their employees have been found out. Now disgruntled employees are leaving in droves to find better companies where they feel their future is best placed.

“With the world now a very different place, employees are looking for companies to adapt to the new world,” he adds. “This means job descriptions being inclusive of work from home as well as flexible working in general. With some employers choosing to ignore the evolution of work in such a short period of time, it now means that their staff are looking for new jobs that offer a better work-life balance.”

Read more: What is stopping employers from introducing four-day weeks?

With people quitting their jobs left, right and centre, it can be tempting to join the great resignation to find something better. But what should you consider before taking the leap?

“Firstly, it’s important to remember that the grass is only greener where it’s watered,” says Beaumont. “Basically, if you’re not giving your job the attention it deserves, of course you’ll want to leave.

“It’s common for employees to think about leaving their jobs when their close colleagues leave. That said, it’s dangerous to think that what might be right for one person is right for another.”

Before handing in your notice, think about where your future lies and what you want from work. “What more are you looking for? It’s difficult to know whether your next opportunity will offer you the satisfaction that you get from your current role,” says Beaumont.

Think about what you are able to achieve in your current career and whether you really need a new job to take on new challenges. “Try and gauge what your ambitions are and whether other businesses can offer you the ability to progress your career. If your current role can offer you everything you need, it might be worth thinking of the risk if you leave,” Beaumont advises.

And finally, remember that different people have different needs. “Try not to mistake other departures as a catalyst for your own,” he adds. “Everyone moves at their own speed – it doesn’t mean you should go if others do.”

Watch: How to resign without burning bridges