Amid the big quit 2022, many are wondering if Americans are quitting their jobs because of COVID or a bigger shift in work culture

In 2021, more than 47 million Americans left their jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics – the highest number of quits ever recorded. As quit rates remain high at the start of 2022, in what some have since referred to as “the great quit,” many wonder if there is a shift in the way Americans view work.

Desmond Dickerson, director of marketing for the future of work at Microsoft, describes himself as a futurist. He said pandemic remote work was just a “kick” for The Big Resignation.

“If you leave work before [before the pandemic]it means uprooting,” Dickerson said. “But now all you have to do is throw a laptop aside and bring a new one… So that barrier to the entry for the transition to jobs has changed.”

The pandemic has dramatically changed the way Americans work. Many have turned homes into offices, and some frontline workers have begun risking their lives for pay. After the federal government spent nearly $2 trillion on a COVID-19 relief package, the economic rebound from the pandemic accelerated.

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Although some companies are now booming, they have to fight to keep their employees.

At the end of 2020, Anthony Klotz, associate professor of commerce at Texas A&M, said he saw the big resignation coming. During the pandemic, he says he noticed four signals: a backlog of resignations, widespread burnout, people reassessing their relationship to work and, finally, the desirability of remote work.

“Once the threat of the pandemic started to lift, it made sense to me that many of these people would go ahead with their plans to quit their jobs…People are reassessing what the job meant to them,” Klotz said. “There seemed to be a big disconnect between what the employees, what the workers wanted, and what the leaders of the organization hoped would happen coming out of the pandemic.”

Dickerson said the change in mindset is evident in new job postings.

“Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen remote work move from the margins to the mainstream, and data on LinkedIn shows us that one in seven jobs that are posted right now have a remote or hybrid work component. “Dickerson said. “In March 2020, that number was 1 in 67.”

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While some may be working from home, frontline workers have continued to work in person during the pandemic to keep grocery stories, restaurants and hospitals running. Overall, frontline work pays less than far-from-home jobs, and many frontline workers grew fed up because they felt they were being treated unfairly, Klotz said.

“It’s really great for people who have in-person jobs who can’t switch to remote work,” Klotz said. “I think these people felt particularly unfairly treated by the pandemic because not only did they have to work in person, but they also saw another half of the population working remotely.”

From 1980 to 2019, according to the Economic Policy Institutethere was a continuous increase in pay rates for high earners, graduates and professionals, but low wages remained stable.

Nicholas Bloom, an economics professor at Stanford University, said the labor market had now changed and frontline workers had more of a say.

“For the first time, perhaps in decades, [historically low earners] can say, “Look, I can easily quit my job, find another job, and get a raise at the same time,” Bloom said. “And in fact, that’s why they quit. People don’t quit, mostly because they’re unhappy with their current job, they usually quit to find another one.”

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Bloom said the flexibility to find a new job also applies to remote workers, and employers are adding permanent remote work or hybrid options to hire and retain talent.

“No one I talk to is thinking of going back. I don’t know of anyone who’s been successful in bringing professionals back five days a week. I just don’t think that’s going to happen,” Bloom said.

According to Microsoft’s Work Trend Index, 53% of respondents said that they focus more on their own mental health and well-being.

Dickerson said remote work has allowed people to do that.

“Organizations and leaders need to be very intentional about how they build this new future of work,” Dickerson said.

Before the pandemic, it was assumed that remote work would lead to unproductive results, but since then critics have been wrong, according to Klotz. The problem is that while people can still be productive from home, some businesses can still point to the value of face-to-face interactions.

“We’re kind of in a golden age of commercial experimentation,” Klotz said. “What’s exciting is that the nine-to-five workweek won’t be replaced by some other type of work arrangement. What’s replacing it is an almost infinite number of work arrangements. “

As people are starting to adjust to things like hybrid schedules – a mix between working in person and working remotely – the pandemic has opened the door to a massive change in the way companies work with their employees. as individuals.

“I regularly caution companies to avoid making decisions only among senior executives,” Bloom said. “We see quite large variations in the number of people wanting to work from home, by age, by gender, if they have children, by race, by commute, by hour, by disability status.”

Klotz said he believed that even before “The Big Resignation,” a conversation about work-life balance was already happening just below the surface.

“It gives us an opportunity to really question the fundamental way we were working with employees in 2019 and say, ‘How can we fix this to hopefully get those turnover rates back to where they are? were maybe 10 or so years ago?'” Klotz said.

Copyright © 2022 ABC News Internet Ventures.

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