The pandemic had profound impacts on the job and housing markets. Nearly 50 million Americans left their jobs in 2021 in a mass reshuffling of the labor market known as the Great Resignation. Many workers left their jobs because of pandemic-related reasons, such as medical complications from long COVID or the need to take care of their children. But for others, the pandemic simply pushed them to make changes they’d already been considering.
With the ability to work from home, many homeowners migrated out of expensive urban centers, quickly selling their homes to iBuyers, such as Offerpad, or companies that buy houses for cash. A lot of them moved to the center of the country where they bought less expensive homes, often using discount real estate brokers or agent-matching services such as Ideal Agent to maximize their savings as home values peaked at just over 19% in July 2021.
Read on to learn why employees left their jobs, why most don’t regret it, and why it’s not really about the money.
1. The Top Reason Employees Quit Was Toxic Workplace Culture
Almost 1 in 3 employees who left their jobs during the Great Resignation cited a toxic workplace culture as the main reason. Respondents specifically cited factors such as poor work-life balance, sexual harrassment, verbal abuse, and discrimination.
2. Consumer-Facing Roles Had the Highest Rates of Attrition
This isn’t surprising, considering the uptick in rude customer behavior since the start of the pandemic. Employees who heavily interacted with the public were 11% more likely to cite toxic workplace culture as they walked out the door.
3. For Most Workers, Resigning Was a Quick Decision
Sixty percent of respondents said they thought about leaving their job for only a month before they quit, and nearly a quarter made the decision in less than a week.
4. Quitting Was Contagious
Some quitters may have been influenced by other resignations. About 60% of resigners said colleagues also quit during a six-month period.
5. Among Employed Adults, Work Was the Most Commonly Cited Source of Stress
Many employees are stressed about their job, and that was true even before the pandemic. However, pandemic-related stressors triggered a widespread evaluation of work environments. For many employees, their job wasn’t worth the stress.
6. Nearly One-Third of Employees Who Quit Had Reached Their Breaking Point
A discomfiting 29% of respondents cited burnout as the reason they left their jobs, suggesting that pandemic stressors, on top of normal job stress, was too much for many workers.
7. Burnout Was a Problem Before the Pandemic
A 2021 study from the job site Indeed found that burnout did increase during the pandemic, but levels of burnout were already quite high. Pandemic-induced increases were relatively modest, rising to 52% from 43% before the pandemic.
8. Some Employees Quit for Financial Reasons
The fourth, fifth, and seventh most cited reasons for leaving were low pay (28%), bad benefits (28%), and no opportunities for career growth (27%).
9. A Return To Pre-COVID Conditions Made Employees Quit Their Job
Nearly a quarter of workers (23%) who quit in 2021 cited a return to in-office work as the reason they left their job. Whether it was for COVID-related safety reasons or the convenience of working from home, many employees were determined to avoid a return to conventional office work, at least for now.
10. Workers Reevaluated Their Career Goals During the Pandemic
The second most common reason for quitting was changing career goals (30%).
11. The Pandemic Influenced the Great Resignation
The pandemic was a major factor in 80% of workers’ decisions to resign.
12. COVID Protocols Were a Divisive Workplace Issue
About 69% of respondents cited their employer’s COVID protocols as the main reason they decided to leave their job, but workers’ motivations reveal a striking divide.
13. More Than 40% of Workers Thought Their Employer Didn’t Care About Their Health and Safety
Forty-one percent of pandemic-motivated resigners said they left their job because their employer didn’t enforce enough health and safety protocols.
14. One-Fourth of Resigners Left Because They Didn’t Want to Follow COVID Measures
More than a quarter (28%) of employees who quit for pandemic-related reasons did so because they did not want to follow their employer’s COVID measures. Employers were in a tough position. No matter how they responded to the pandemic, a percentage of employees were going to find it unacceptable.
15. Employers Should Err on the Side of More COVID Precautions
Even though many workers quit because they didn’t want to follow their employer’s COVID protocols, more workers quit because they viewed their employer’s COVID protocols as insufficient. In fact, it was the No.1 pandemic-related reason for leaving a job.
16. A Short-Staffed Workplace Was a Common Pandemic-Related Reason for Leaving a Job
As illness and disagreements over COVID protocols set off an initial wave of resignations, a second wave of departures followed by workers who were fed up with picking up the slack left by absent colleagues. More than one-third of respondents (35%) said they resigned from their job because their workplace didn’t have enough people to handle the workload.
17. Over a Quarter of Respondents Left Their Job Because of Complications From COVID-19
The pandemic had a direct impact on the workforce, with 28% of workers quitting because they developed long COVID or other medical complications. If long COVID becomes a chronic condition, it could have a huge impact on the long-term recovery of the U.S. workforce.
18. Children Were a Huge Reason Employees Resigned
Child-related reasons accounted for three of the top-six pandemic-related causes people left the workforce. Thirty-one percent of respondents cited the need to support their children’s education, 28% said they had to become a caretaker, and 25% said they lost access to child care.
19. Men Were More Likely Than Women to Leave the Workforce for Child-Related Reasons
Surprisingly, men were 15% more likely than women to leave their job to support a child’s education or because they lost access to child care.
20. Men Were More Likely Than Women to Leave Their Jobs to Become a Caretaker
Women are more likely than men to suffer from long COVID, which may explain why men were 30% more likely than women to quit their jobs to look after a loved one with COVID-related complications.
21. Many Workers Didn’t Give 2-Weeks’ Notice
Although it’s a well-established courtesy, almost half of resigners (49%) gave only one-week’s notice or less when they quit their job.
22. A Quarter of Workers Who Left Their Job Gave No Notice
Surprisingly, 25% of resigners simply walked out the door after they resigned.
23. Some Employees Ghosted Their Employer
Among resigners who gave no notice, 1 in 8 didn’t even formally resign. They simply stopped showing up for work. This may seem like an extreme way to leave a job, but job seekers often cite being ghosted by prospective employers as one of the most frustrating aspects of a job search. Employees may have felt justified in returning the favor.
24. Employers Know a Toxic Culture Is Alienating Employees, But Most Are Unwilling to Change
Only 28% of employers said they’d be willing to change their workplace culture to retain employees.
25. Most Employees Received a Counteroffer From Their Employer
A staggering 80% of employees who received an incentive to stay at their job turned it down. The most common incentives offered were better benefits (35%), better pay (33%), more flexible hours (33%), the ability to work from home (31%), and a promotion (28%).
26. The Great Resignation Really Was About Culture
More than half of workers (53%) who quit their jobs during the Great Resignation make an average of $8,000 less at their new job.
27. Workers Who Quit But Are Still Looking for Employment Would Take a Massive Pay Cut at Their Next Job
Respondents who are currently looking for their next position said they’d take an average of $23,000 less than their previous job in exchange for a working environment more in line with their values.
28. Workers Should Try To Find Their Next Job Before They Resign
This isn’t just practical advice. The study found that workers who secured their next job before quitting took much less of a pay cut than workers who quit and then started job searching.
29. A Narrow Majority of Resigners Had a Job Lined Up Before Quitting
Fifty-five percent of workers who left their job during the Great Resignation had a new job ready to go before they tendered their resignation.
30. Employees Who Had a Job Offer Before They Quit Didn’t Have to Search Long
Of the 55% of workers who lined up new jobs before resigning, more than half (60%) searched three months or less for their new position.
31. Employees Who Quit Without a Job Lined Up Didn’t Regret Their Decision
More than half (56%) of workers who risked quitting their job without any prospects are at peace with their decision.
32. Half of Workers Who Quit Reported Feeling a Positive Emotion
Sixty percent of resigners said they felt happiness, pride, or excitement after they quit.
33. The No. 1 Emotion Workers Felt When They Quit Was Relief
Many workers truly felt like they were at the end of their rope in a toxic workplace environment, and 39% of employees felt relieved when they quit.
34. Some Employees Who Resigned Had Regrets
More than half of resigners (57%) said they had some level of regret about leaving their job. Regret is most intense among people who have yet to find a new job. The regrets are likely financial in nature and not nostalgia for their old workplace.
35. One-Third of Workers Who Resigned Still Haven’t Found a New Job
A surprising 35% of resigners still haven’t found work. Of those, half have been unemployed for six months or more.
36. Workers Who Found a New Job Are Happy With the Move
Approximately 61% of employees expressed some level of satisfaction with their new job, including 38% who said they were very satisfied. That’s a 47% increase from the number of workers who were very satisfied at their previous job.
37. Workers Who Quit Wouldn’t Return to Their Old Job Under Any Circumstances
The survey found that 58% of resigners wouldn’t go back to their old job, even if they were offered better pay and benefits or more flexibility.
38. Almost Everyone Hates the Job Search
A staggering 89% of respondents found the job search frustrating because of 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 descriptions (28%), and difficulty explaining gaps in their resume (28%).
39. Employees Who Quit Are Evenly Split on the Difficulty of Finding a New Job
Forty percent of respondents said the job search was harder than expected, while an equal 40% said it was easier than expected.
40. As Job Satisfaction Rose, Discontent Fell
More than one-third of employees (34%) were dissatisfied at their old job, while only 25% are dissatisfied at their new one. By most measures, the Great Resignation has been a success for employees.
41. The Great Resignation May Not Be Over
Nearly half of workers (44%) who changed jobs in the past year are considering changing jobs again in the next six months. In a historically tight labor market, they face few obstacles.