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Should the “Great Resignation” Be Causing You to Reassess Your Business Practices?

  • Boston University researcher suggests that employee quits during the “Great Resignation” may not be significantly different from other major shifts in the labor market in United States history
  • Jay Zagorsky says worker departures have been primarily been impacting industries where the quits rate is above average
  • Employers concerned with worker retention can take steps such as giving workers a sense of purpose and granting more autonomy to teams

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

The economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic has been an unusual one. Millions of people lost their jobs at the outset of the pandemic and its associated lockdowns, but millions have also been leaving their employers as jobs are regained or created.

The data suggests that more than one in five workers in the United States has left their job since April 2021, with this elevated turnover being dubbed the “Great Recession.” However, a recent article in Entrepreneur suggests that employee quits aren’t as dramatic as they might seem on the surface.

Jay Zagorsky, a researcher with Boston University, says quits data only goes back slightly more than 20 years, and that there have been other periods of significant labor churn in U.S. history as people seek new opportunities in a booming economy. Zagorsky says young people are also making up the largest share of quits, and that such turnover is common.

  • Quits have been hitting some sectors harder than others, especially in traditionally high-intensity and low-wage employers such as leisure/hospitality and retail
  • The quits rate has shown more stability in areas like construction, finance, information, and real estate
  • Employers can work to reduce quits rate by seeking to engage younger workers and create more of a connection with the company, offering better wages and benefits, giving workers a sense of purpose, allowing more autonomy in how teams work, and ensuring that people are satisfied with safety and quality of working conditions
  • Samer Saab, CEO of the experience management solutions company Explorance, said in a recent interview with Forbes that the simplest thing businesses can do to improve retention is to solicit feedback from employees and act on it; sharing the results of these inquiries and explaining how the company plans to address the findings can also be helpful

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