Lessons We Can Learn From the Great Resignation

The Great Resignation has dominated the conversation around the job market and employment for the last year. While rumors of a recession are beginning to take center stage, Great Resignation trends will be with us for a long time, and there are valuable lessons we can take from it into the future.

Labeled by Anthony Klotz, a professor of management at University College London's School of Management, the Great Resignation is an economic trend that has seen many employees resigning from their jobs. 

Some experts argue that the conditions that precipitated the Great Resignation started before the pandemic. However, the work shifts we all experienced from 2020 onward certainly exacerbated the trend, and the term was officially coined in May 2021. 

Throughout 2021, an average of almost four million people resigned from their jobs each month. Resignations remained high into 2022, and in February of this year, 4.5 million people quit their positions. And while conversations about the Great Resignation have begun to be replaced by fears about an economic recession, experts agree that workers will continue to quit their jobs throughout 2022, with 20% of people planning to quit this year

According to the Pew Research Center, the majority of workers left their jobs in 2021 for three main reasons: low pay, few opportunities for advancement, and feeling disrespected at work. But three other reasons played a role as well. Workers noted problems with childcare, inflexible hours, and interest in relocating as additional factors causing mass resignations. 

There are lessons both employees and employers can take from the Great Resignation to help workers have a better experience at work so they don't feel the need to leave. 

For their part, employees have been re-evaluating their positions, careers, work-life balance, and general job satisfaction, in large part due to the pandemic. Changes in work expectations and options have caused employees to take a "carpe diem" approach. Many came to believe that life's too short to spend it in a job they hate. 


Over the last 18 months of the Great Resignation, employees have learned they have more say when it comes to their roles, salaries, and benefits than they did previously. Employees, therefore, can use the Great Resignation as leverage if they don't believe they are being compensated fairly, if they are being disrespected at work, or want to access more career advancement options. 

Employers, on the other hand, want to keep employees in their roles. Employees resigning costs companies money, disrupts teams, and lowers productivity (and morale) across the board. 

So what lessons can employers learn from the Great Resignation to retain their employees? These four core tips can help employers guard against the Great Resignation in the coming years. 

1. Focus on employee engagement and company culture

One of the lessons many employers learned (the hard way) through the Great Resignation is that their employees were not as satisfied or loyal as they once thought. Consulting firm McKinsey suggests that businesses that learn why their employees are leaving and find solutions for the core issues will stand to gain the most in the coming years. 

Through their research, the firm found that employees often quit because they didn't feel valued by their organizations or managers or have a sense of belonging at work. "Employees were far more likely to prioritize relational factors, whereas employers were more likely to focus on transactional ones," cited their analysis. 

Understanding these factors will go a long way in keeping employees satisfied and proud of the work they're doing.

2. Enable hybrid or remote work opportunities

Offering employees more autonomy over their daily schedules in ways that can positively impact work-life balance is one way to help employee retention. Hybrid or remote working options don't suit every position or personality, but they can add much-needed flexibility to employees' working lives. For example, hybrid options can help employees who want to move if their partner gets a job opportunity elsewhere, incorporate a workout class they would otherwise miss because of a commute, or even accommodate those who need to pick up their child from daycare. 

3. Open channels for career advancement

Offering transparent routes to career advancement is a step employers can take to ensure employees don't look for more responsibility elsewhere. Proactively listening to particular employee needs and charting a specific course of action is something managers and employers can do to retain employees.  

4. Offer robust work management software

Work management software is no longer just an optional bonus — it's a necessity for successful companies. The right software enables workers to take up more flexible working hours while staying connected to their managers and teams. And while work management software can't alleviate all of the problems workers have cited, it can give more options for childcare and allow people to relocate without leaving their positions. 

Wrike offers powerful work management that can help employees and employers to do their best work and remain strong through the ups and downs of job market trends. Wrike boosts collaboration with live editing and instant @mentions that will keep your employees connected to their teams, wherever they work. Empower remote and hybrid work and increase engagement with software that keeps your employees connected. 

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