After the Great Resignation comes the era of the autonomous

Arno Yeramyan
December 29, 2021

With the Covid-19 recession still persisting, workers are either choosing to quit the labor market altogether or going for a sectoral change.  Many believe that the great resignation, or alternatively called as the Big Quit, may cause wage alterations, occupational shifts and structural changes such as the long discussedfour-day week in certain sectors. More importantly, the Big Quit may be signaling the arrival of a new era in which being an autonomous professional will be ‘the real deal’.But let’s take a step back and look at the great resignation. What does the great resignation have to do with us, the autonomous professionals? The answer may not seem so obvious at first glance but the collective refusal of work in sectors such as the high tech sector, retail and services can signify the growth of the percentage of autonomous professionals- bringing certain opportunities alongside challenges. Here, at Ruul Blog we highlighted the most striking aspects of the Great Resignation for you!

What is the great resignation of 2021?

The Great Resignation aka. The Big Quit is likely to be the latest popular movement among a vast number of employees, especially in the US, where workers willingly started to resign from their jobs in large numbers amid the Covid-19 pandemic. But the US is not the only country that experiences this new incident. Germany, the UK, Belgium, France and even China are some of the countries that go through a more or less similar course in Covid-related resignations.Some experts of economics believe that this is a new form of popular protest against the challenging conditions in certain sectors. But others describe the Big Quit as a permanent change of lifestyle, largely generated by the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Industry trends of resignations

Expectedly, some industries saw a bigger number of employees leaving while other sectors remained relatively stable in terms of the number of people they employed. It is helpful trying to see the bigger picture before we explore the ins and outs of this major change.According to one of the surveys conducted by Microsoft, little under 50% of the workers (41% of them to be precise) were assessing whether to change their profession or to quit.  Likewise, major software companies like Personio foresee that close to 40% of their workers in Ireland and the United Kingdom will probably resign in the upcoming six months or one year.Nevertheless, in the middle of the Covid-19 recession, the most drastic change took place on the other side of the Atlantic. Despite the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, over 4 million employees in America, who were primarily employed in the healthcare sector, high tech business and retail sector resigned from their jobs.  The estimated number of those who left their positions in the last-mentioned sector reached 650,000 people.

Careers affected by the resignation wave

Different groups of people at various stages of their career paths had to face tough decisions during the Covid-19 Pandemic. However, we can now follow a certain trajectory and see that some sections of the conventional career path have been more prone to this occurrence than the others.Strikingly, with about 20% of the resignation rate, people who we can call the ‘mid-career’ employees, namely millennials between the ages of 30 and 45, had the highest number of resignations. Of course the mid-career professionals were not the only ones who set sail for new prospects. For similar reasons, the workers who were employed at essential sectors also chose to take a big step and quit.Contrarily, this new professional and economic behavior didn’t have the same ground among newer generations such as the Generation Z. The amount of workers belonging to this generation were observed to have lower rates of resignation than Millennials.

What is driving the great resignation?

Our fellow readers may wonder about the force that is pushing workers to take part in the great resignation other than the growing popularity of working independently.  That’s why we listed some of the possible factors that cause current ‘mayhem’. In short, here are some of the top reasons that drive the great resignation.

  • The global recession due to Covid-19
  • Issues related to safety and wellbeing
  • Having a toxic office environment
  • Work-life balance
  • The possibility of becoming autonomous professionals
  • Seeking better opportunities
  • Parental responsibilities

Reasons behind the resignations

Issues related to safety and wellbeing

Although some employees realized that there has been a shift in their priorities due to the Covid-19 pandemic, numerous others decided to quit because of how they have been treated by the company they worked for and their supervisors.  Many of the workers felt that they needed to prioritize their safety and wellbeing while the company they worked for remained demanding.

Having a toxic office environment

Many of us have ‘that one friend’, as a matter of fact multiple friends, who complain about where they work.  The lack of professional organization skills, vague tasks, endless hours of work and being underpaid in respect to what we do are yet additional factors that contribute to the decision of quitting a job in these turbulent times. Going after the possibility of working independently or finding peace elsewhere is surely another reason why people took a step towards resignation.

Work-life balance

Workers who have already been planning to quit their job and look for another one because of the imbalance between their work and life might have faced being pushed to their extreme limits during these last two years. Sadly, the outcome is a good old burnout when our daily life is not proportionately divided between the time that we spend working and the time that we spend on everything else.According to a report prepared by Limeade 40% of the workers pointed out being burned out as the chief motivation for their decision. The discontentment caused by overworking seems to be more common in the healthcare sector, food services and hospitality than other professional fields.

Better pay, benefits, conditions

Neither the issues related to safety, wellbeing and work-life balance nor the changing priorities are the only constituents of the great resignation.  It is debated recently that benefits that may come along with new terms of employment as well as higher wages, benefits and compensations are the other points of consideration for those who resign.For instance, apart from higher wages, it is observed in the UK that employees search for new positions that offer adjustable working conditions about location, working hours and working environment.  It looks like the companies will need to reconsider the things they offer to their employees if they want to continue competing for the best employees within the labor market.As the inflation rates go up in most places around the globe, the frustration grows among employees for having a smaller and smaller paycheck with each passing month. The latest study of Limeade that we talked about above also reflects this sentiment. In accord with Limeade’s conclusion 37% of those who changed their jobs were motivated by higher wages and better employment packages.

Wanting to be a location independent professional

The future of offices and workplaces was discussed even before the Covid-19. Despite the minority that believed working remotely was a sci-fi invention, the expansion of information communication technologies and the rapid evolution of computers made it obvious in a short time that the future of work might be a remote one.  Then, with the world facing a full blown pandemic, the offices were strictly required to be closed and millions of us became remote workers in less than months.While some people still prefer to be present at their workplaces, there is a growing number of professionals who get the hang of working remotely and independently. As Limeade states, almost half of the participants (strictly 40% of the participants of the survey) expressed that they resigned from their previous job and took up a new one because their new position offered them the chance to work remotely.This may suggest that more people are willing to welcome the new normal and adopt a method according to which they can work independently.

Being working parents

The reality of the Covid-19 pandemic hit working parents harder than they expected. In the aftermath of the shut down of childcare services, nurseries, kindergartens and schools it took more effort than before to orchestrate the tasks of daily life.

Tackling the difficulties of working online on one hand and dealing with parental responsibilities with children who were stuck at home on the other made many parents reevaluate where they were in life and what they were doing. One of the major reasons why working parents chose to resign was to handle the multiple roles they needed to fulfill of a teacher, parent, babysitter and the provider of the family more skilfully.

Searching for professional autonomy

One time, later in his life, Steve Jobs mentioned that employing the most skilled people of the tech sector hugely contributed to the success of Apple. What Jobs said later became the de-facto motto of the business arena of the 21st century.Today, the way to attract the most talented professionals of any sector and make them the members of a company’s team goes through meeting their expectations. So it is evident that the demand for professional autonomy is not one-sided, it is more of a common denominator of both the employers and the professionals.

Why are highly skilled professionals attracted by the idea of autonomy?

Because of the multiple advantages of being autonomous as a skilled professional such as having a flexible schedule, being able to create freely and having the opportunity to be more mobile, autonomy attracts highly skilled professionals than before.There is now a mutual understanding between employers and employees that the highly skilled professionals need to be autonomous so that they can work more willingly and productively in return.


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