❌ Why Are Employees Quitting Their Jobs?
Among workers who quit during the Great Resignation, the most common reasons were toxic company culture (31%), poor company response to the COVID-19 pandemic (30%), and changing career goals (30%).
More than 47 million Americans resigned from their jobs in 2021. The millions of quitters are part of a national movement known as the Great Resignation, a trend of employees voluntarily leaving their jobs to find higher pay, better benefits, new careers, and healthier working conditions.
The movement has reverberated across all industries but especially the leisure, hospitality, and food services industries — most likely to be interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic gave employees of all fields an opportunity to rethink their priorities and career goals. It didn’t take long for workers to realize their current jobs weren’t worth it.
We found that 60% of employees considered leaving their job for just one month before resigning, while nearly 1 in 4 considered leaving for one week or less. Additionally, 60% weren’t alone in their resignations, with other employees at their company quitting within a six-month time frame.
Employers took notice when a record 4 million people resigned in April 2021. Workers then continued quitting at an increasing rate for five of the next seven months — reaching a new all-time high in the latter part of the year.
Our new data mirrors the national trend, with resignations leaping 45% from the third to fourth quarter. More resignations (12%) occurred in December 2021 than any other month in our study. With resignation rates still hovering near record highs, economists expect employees to continue quitting in waves in 2022.
To learn more about the exodus of American workers, we asked 1,000 people who have resigned from a job since January 2021 about the reasons they quit, their job search, and the concessions they made to find the right role.
We learned that today’s employees prioritize respect and meaningful work over traditional incentives such as higher wages and better benefits — indicating a shift in values that’s likely here to stay, even when resignations begin to wane.
🙅🏽♀️ Great Resignation Statistics
- The most common reason workers quit during the Great Resignation was toxic company culture (31%).
- 80% of respondents said the pandemic influenced their decision to resign.
- Of employees who quit because of the pandemic, 41% did so because their employer didn’t enforce enough health and safety protocols, while 28% didn’t want to follow their organization’s protocols.
- Nearly 1 in 4 people resigned after considering it for just one week or less.
- About half (49%) of respondents gave one-week notice or less when they resigned, while 1 in 4 gave no notice at all.
- 1 in 8 employees ghosted their company completely. However, being ghosted by companies is the second-most frustrating situation when workers look for jobs (30%).
- 80% of people received a counteroffer from their employer when they resigned but still decided to leave.
- 55% of employees had a job lined up before they resigned. Of those, a surprising 53% reported a salary decrease, compared to 42% who reported an increase.
- Respondents reported an average pay cut of $8,000 in their new role, but many would accept a greater pay reduction. Employees who quit but are still looking for jobs would accept an average pay cut of $23,000.
- Workers who changed jobs during the Great Resignation were 47% more likely to be very satisfied in their new job compared to their old one.
- 56% of respondents expressed some regret about resigning, but if given the option, 58% wouldn’t return to their old jobs or wouldn’t return without major improvements.
- A majority (56%) of workers who quit without a job lined up didn’t regret it.
- Among workers who resigned during the Great Resignation, 35% still do not have jobs, and 50% of those have been unemployed for six months or more.
- 44% of people who changed jobs in the past year have considered resigning again in the next six months.
Toxic Culture Is the No. 1 Reason Employees Quit
Nearly 1 in 3 people who quit their jobs in 2021 did so to escape a toxic company culture, characterized by discrimination, sexual harassment, verbal abuse, and poor work-life boundaries.
Consumer-facing roles have the highest rates of attrition, partly caused by rude customer behavior that has sometimes spiraled into screaming fits and physical aggression. Although these jobs are more likely to offer low pay and few benefits, a toxic culture is 11% more likely to push employees out the door.
Horrible bosses, tight deadlines, overtime work, and harmful office practices are just as likely to contribute to a hostile work environment. Work is the most common cause of stress among employed adults, and it was an accepted part of any job — until the pandemic. That’s when many employees reached a breaking point and decided to reevaluate the place of work in their lives.
Workers wanted to escape a toxic environment, but they also wanted to change careers or take a break because of burnout. Among workers who resigned during the pandemic, the most common reasons for leaving include:
- Toxic culture (31%)
- Changing career goals (30%)
- Burnout (29%)
- Lower pay (28%)
- Bad benefits (28%)
- Personal hardship (27%)
- Few or no opportunities for career growth (27%)
- Wanting to relocate (25%)
- Return to in-office work (23%)
- Furlough or temporarily not working (23%)
The Pandemic Influenced 80% of Workers’ Decision to Resign
COVID-19 has infected more than 75 million people in the U.S., but many companies have failed to implement uniform masking, testing, and vaccination policies to keep employees healthy. Some organizations have even allowed sick employees to return to work amid the national labor shortage.
A poor corporate response to the COVID-19 pandemic leaves employees feeling like their safety isn’t valued, and they choose to walk away to protect themselves and their families rather than continue working. Approximately 41% of employees who resigned because of the pandemic did so because their employer didn’t enforce enough health and safety protocols, while 28% quit because they did not want to follow their organization’s protocols.
Employers hoping to retain workers may want to err on the side of more precautions. A lack of protocols was the No. 1 pandemic-related reason for leaving a job and the No. 2 reason overall. Besides not feeling safe at work, employees resigned because of these pandemic-related reasons:
- Short-staffed workplace (35%)
- Needed to support children’s education (31%)
- Developed long COVID or other medical complications (28%)
- Had to become a caretaker (28%)
- Lost access to childcare (25%)
More than half of respondents (56%) said they weren’t working because they lost access to child care or had to support their children’s education. Surprisingly, men in our study were nearly 15% more likely than women to cite these as reasons for leaving.
Given that women may be more likely to suffer from long COVID, men were also 30% more likely to quit their jobs to become a caretaker for a loved one with medical complications from the virus.
Half of Resigners Don’t Give Two-Weeks’ Notice
Giving two-weeks’ notice is a common professional courtesy, but many of today’s workers are eager to leave in a hurry. Nearly half (49%) of employees who resigned gave one-week notice or less, with 1 in 4 giving no notice at all.
Of those who gave no notice, 1 in 8 ghosted their organization and stopped showing up for work without formally resigning. However, being ghosted by companies (30%) is the second-most frustrating scenario for job seekers looking for employment. Now that the labor market is hot, workers feel no remorse turning the tables on their employers.
Burnt-out workers who have been mistreated in a toxic work environment may quit without notice for their own mental health and safety, even if it means damaging a professional relationship. Others may need to make a quick exit for a medical emergency or time-sensitive offer.
To save time and money on recruiting new talent, employers are offering workers incentives to stay in their current roles. Although a toxic company culture is the No. 1 reason workers quit their jobs, only 28% of companies said they’d actually make those changes to retain an employee.
Eighty percent of employees received a counteroffer from their company but still decided to leave. Employees turned down standard upgrades such as higher pay and better benefits as well as promises to change a toxic workplace. To keep their employees, companies offered:
- Better benefits (35%)
- Higher pay (33%)
- More flexible hours (33%)
- Ability to work from home (31%)
- Promotion (28%)
- Commitment to making changes (28%)
- Transfer to a different manager or team (27%)
- More PTO (26%)
More Than Half of Employees Accepted a Pay Cut in Their New Role
The Great Resignation isn’t just about finding higher-paying jobs. A majority of workers are actually willing to take a modest pay cut to find better working conditions where they get more job satisfaction. In fact, more than half of employees (53%) reported a salary decrease in their new role.
The average pay cut totaled around $8,000, but many job seekers would accept an even greater reduction. Workers who quit but are still looking for a job would be willing to work for an average of $23,000 less in their next role.
For those who can’t afford to lose tens of thousands from their annual paycheck, the data suggests waiting to resign until securing another position. Workers who resigned with a job lined up took less of a pay cut than those who quit without another offer but later found employment. Among the latter, 66% reported a salary decrease, the average of which was nearly $18,000 in their new position.
Workers Are More Satisfied in Their New Jobs
The grass isn’t always greener from a new office window, but people who changed jobs during the Great Resignation reported more overall satisfaction in their new roles.
Approximately 61% of employees expressed some level of satisfaction with their new jobs. Of those, 38% said they were very satisfied — a 47% percent jump from the number of people who said the same about their previous position.
Job satisfaction is likely on the rise as workers find employers that cultivate a supportive environment, respect their boundaries, offer recognition, and provide fair compensation and benefits.
As a result, discontent is on the decline, dwindling from 34% of employees in their previous jobs to 25% in their new ones. However, 44% of workers who changed jobs in the past year are considering doing so again in the next six months.
Nearly 60% of Employees Have Some Regret About Resigning
In today’s toxic work environment, relief is the No. 1 emotion people felt when they quit. In fact, about 60% of workers expressed a positive emotion such as happiness, pride, or excitement after they resigned.
However, more than half of employees (57%) expressed some regret about resigning from their jobs. The feeling is particularly acute among those who have yet to find employment. Thirty-five percent of workers who quit during the Great Resignation remain unemployed. Among those who are still out of work, 50% have been without a job for six months or more.
Many people can’t afford to be unemployed that long. More than 1 in 3 respondents (36%) said that if they were unemployed and didn’t change their standard of living, their savings would last just one month or less. Under such circumstances, nearly a quarter of workers (23%) said they’d return to their old jobs, and 1 in 5 would go back even if they had to accept a pay cut or a part-time position.
Still, a majority of workers (58%) wouldn’t return to their old jobs under any circumstance or without major improvements such as higher pay, better benefits, and more flexibility.
89% of Respondents Found the Job Search Frustrating
Job openings are hovering near all-time highs, but the ease of getting hired varies greatly among workers. Although there are 10.9 million available jobs — and only 6.5 million unemployed workers — 40% percent of respondents said the job search was more difficult than expected.
The disconnect exists, partly, because of the types of jobs available. There are millions of positions open in bars, restaurants, and retail shops, but those aren’t the flexible, high-paying jobs workers want.
Another 40% of respondents said the job search was easier than expected. A majority of employees (55%) had jobs lined up before resigning. Of those, 60% searched three months or less for their new positions.
Although the job search was easier for some, nearly all employees (89%) found the job search frustrating. The most common frustrations include:
- Unrealistic requirements for work experience (33%)
- Being ghosted by companies (30%)
- Lack of eligible job opportunities (30%)
- Few or no invitations to interview (30%)
- Vague job description (28%)
- Difficulty explaining gaps in resume (28%)
- Hesitant to trust new company (28%)
- Unlisted salaries (28%)
- Technology problems with remote interviews (27%)
- Competition from other applicants (27%)
Despite the struggles of searching for a job, 56% of people who quit without a job lined up didn’t regret it.
The proprietary data featured in this study comes from an online survey commissioned by Real Estate Witch. One thousand people who resigned from their job since January 2021 were surveyed Jan. 20-21, 2022. Each respondent answered up to 21 questions related to their resignation and job-hunting experience.
About Real Estate Witch
You shouldn’t need a crystal ball or magical powers to understand real estate. Since 2016, Real Estate Witch has demystified real estate through in-depth guides, honest company reviews, and data-driven research. In 2020, Real Estate Witch was acquired by Clever Real Estate, a free agent-matching service that has helped consumers save more than $82 million on realtor fees. Real Estate Witch’s research has been featured in CNBC, Yahoo! Finance, Chicago Tribune, Black Enterprise, and more.
Why are employees quitting their jobs?
Nearly 1 in 3 people who quit their jobs in 2021 did so to escape a toxic company culture, characterized by discrimination, sexual harassment, verbal abuse, and poor work-life boundaries. Learn more.
Should I quit without a job?
Employees who quit without another offer but later find employment take more of a pay cut than those who quit with another job lined up. However, more than half of workers (56%) who quit without a job lined up didn't regret it. Learn more.
Do I have to give two-weeks' notice?
No. Giving two-weeks' notice is merely a professional courtesy. Nearly half (49%) of employees give a one-week notice or less, with 1 in 4 giving no notice at all. Learn more.
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