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Gorilla Jobs Blog Resigning Is Not A Dirty Word Man Sitting In Comfortable Chair Watching A Beautiful City View In The Sun

Recruitment 101: Resigning –  is Not a Dirty Word

December 7, 2022 0 Comments

“The Great Resignation” and the rise of “Quiet Quitting” have meant that resigning from a job has never been so easy…or at least is not so hard anymore.

In early 2021, we wrote about Leaving a Job and How to Manage Resignation Guilt, with the main point being there isn’t necessarily a good time to make this decision but, that when the time comes, there are ways to manage the guilt you might feel.

Maybe country and western singer Kenny Rogers’ famous 1970s tune The Gambler has the best advice for anyone contemplating a change: “You got to know when to hold ’em, Know when to fold ’em, Know when to walk away and know when to run”

Wise words for just about anything we do in life, but maybe even more so when it comes to our professional lives. However, there has been much stigma and even some reasonable fear attached to resigning, the main being what other employers or peers might think of it and, even more importantly, whether there is a better job out there and how possible is it to nab it.

The Great Resignation: Then…and now

Throughout 2021, many major economies experienced an elevated level of people resigning.

Termed “The Great Resignation”, why it occurred is complex, but as most were forced to adjust to living with the pandemic in both their personal and professional lives, some of the factors leading to it included:

  • Mistreatment of workers, meaning some wanted to shift sectors or change roles
  • Inability to obtain childcare during the shift to remote learning
  • Demands by employers to return to work once the dangers of the pandemic receded
  • Inability or lack of desire to comply with vaccination requirements.

Throw in a rebounding economy leading to a very tight labour market (which in turn meant more opportunities and reduced risk of leaving a role and not being able to find another), and the perfect resignation storm blew in.

But above and beyond this, the pandemic also created a situation where many began questioning or re-evaluating life priorities and work-life balance, leading to resigning to look for employers who also valued such.

As an indicator of how big the Great Resignation was, more than 47 million Americans quit their jobs in 2021, roughly equivalent to one-third of the working population! Australia too saw its own albeit not-so-pronounced Great Resignation, with 1.3 million leaving their jobs in 2021 (over 10% of the workforce).

And, it’s not over yet: Forecasts are that over the next 6-12 months well into the middle of 2023, up to two million Australians could resign as job satisfaction plummets due to fatigue, burnout and increased workloads magnified by staff shortages.

Quietly (or not so) Quitting

As well as those who made the out-and-loud decision to leave their jobs during the Great Resignation, there were also the more “quiet achievers” who began a new resigning movement: Quiet Quitting.

While it can be conceivably argued this is not such a new concept and has been in the workplace forever, Quiet Quitting has definitely become more pronounced over the past few years – or at least more formally recognised.

Quiet Quitting is the idea that there is a component of the workforce doing just enough of their job to get by but no more. 

While some have pushed back against the concept, Gallup did a recent survey that estimated up to half the US workforce was quietly quitting as engagement levels at work dropped, particularly for younger employees.

Quiet Quitting can be connected to some of the same factors associated with the Great Resignation but might be seen to predominantly come from a change in how people view work as part of their broader lives, leading to a shift from the idea of living to work to its reverse: working to live.

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Photo by Timothy Paule II on Pexels

Changing jobs more regularly is a thing

More broadly when it comes to resigning, people are changing jobs more regularly now than in the past. For example, note these three key stats:

  • The average person holds 12.4 jobs between the ages of 18 and 54.
  • Men with higher education hold an average of 11.9 jobs from ages 18 to 54; those without a high school education hold an average of 13.8 jobs between these ages. Women aged 18-54 with higher ed hold an average of 13.1 jobs; those without a high school education hold an average of 10 jobs.
  • The average person will change careers 5-7 times during their working life, and approximately 30% of the total workforce will now change jobs every 12 months.

The US Chamber of Commerce lists five potential reasons for this, namely:

  • Aligning skills to growth industries
  • Higher degrees no longer necessarily required
  • The mainstreaming of remote work
  • Wanting to make a difference
  • Transitioning out of high-contact jobs

The impact on resigning

The main takeaway from this is that resigning and the stigma attached to it is diminishing. 

And, in line with still historically low unemployment rates that put many in a better bargaining position to look for a new job, resigning can be seen as more about the search for greater opportunities that align with each worker’s individual circumstances.

This still doesn’t necessarily make resigning easy, of course, but it does relieve some of the pressure and guilt previously associated with it.

And while there are both personal and professional factors to be taken into consideration as part of the process, many others are also currently in the process of thinking about their forward professional lives, with possible moves afoot.

So, if resigning is on your mind, fire up your favourite music streaming app, find that Kenny Rogers tune, and let the great man’s wisdom sink in as you ask yourself, “Is it time to hold ’em, or fold ’em?”

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