More than 4 million people lost their jobs every month in the US this year, and this record trend is not going to stop anytime soon, according to a new study.
About 40% of American workers are considering leaving their current job within the next 3 to 6 months, according to a report released last week by McKinsey and Co., which included 6,294 Americans between February and April.
“This is not just a passing trend or job market change associated with the pandemic,” says Bonnie Dowling, one of the report’s authors, of increased smoking cessation rates. “There has been a fundamental shift in the mindset of workers and their willingness to prioritize their lives beyond just any job… We will never go back to where we were in 2019.”
Such “Great Retirement” talk often focuses on why people quit – low pay, few career opportunities, inflexible work schedules – but what we hear less often is what’s happening. after people quit their jobs.
McKinsey and Co. also spoke to more than 2,800 people in six countries — the US, Australia, Canada, Singapore, India, and the UK — who have quit full-time jobs over the past two years to find out where workers go.
Nearly half of those who quit change industries
The report states that about 48% of people who quit were looking for new opportunities in different industries.
Dowling points to two factors behind this outcome: burnout caused by the pandemic and better chances of getting a higher-paying job in a tough job market.
“Many people have realized how unstable or insecure their industry has been during the pandemic, especially those who work on the front lines,” says Dowling.
At the same time, companies are still struggling to attract and retain employees — a model that has undoubtedly caused a lot of headaches for HR departments across the US, but has also opened the door for job seekers to take advantage of new opportunities that could would have been out of reach before the pandemic.
“More employers have opened their doors to fill the gaping talent gap they face,” adds Dowling. “They prioritize skills over education or previous work experience, which creates more opportunities for job seekers across sectors.”
Some industries are losing talent faster than others: more than 70% of workers who quit their jobs in consumer goods/retail and finance/insurance either changed industries or left their jobs entirely, compared to 54% of workers in healthcare and education , such a switch.
The report notes that of those who left without a new job, almost half (47%) chose to return to work, but only 29% returned to a traditional full-time job. These percentages are based on March A McKinsey & Co. survey of 600 American workers who voluntarily quit their jobs without waiting for another job.
The remaining 18% of people have either found a new part-time job, working part-time, part-time or part-time, or decided to start their own business.
“People no longer tolerate toxic bosses and toxic cultures because they can leave and find other ways to make money without getting into a negative situation,” says Dowling. “Now we have more ways to work than ever before thanks to increased connectivity.”
More people are choosing to be their own boss: during the pandemic, the number of new business applications has grown by more than 30%, and in 2021 alone, almost 5.4 million new applications were created, according to an April press release from the White House.
And it’s not just about escaping a toxic work environment. Such non-traditional pursuits also satisfy people’s growing desire for flexibility. The freedom to work from anywhere or choose your own work schedule has become the most requested perk during the pandemic — so much so that people value flexibility as much as a 10% pay rise, according to research work from the WFH research project.
Fast layoffs could continue until 2022 if companies don’t make “meaningful” changes.
Even with a possible recession on the horizon, Dowling expects people to continue to quit and change jobs at an accelerated pace in the coming months.
Much of this trend has been driven by a “dramatic” shift in social norms around smoking cessation. “For a long time you didn’t leave work if you didn’t have a queue for another – this is what everyone was taught and what people did,” she says. “But things have changed so dramatically in the last 18 months… Now the attitude of people is, ‘I’m sure that when I want to work, there will be something for me.’”
Instead of lamenting ongoing labor shortages, companies need to look at the changing US economic landscape as an opportunity to change the way we work and build a better model, Dowling said.
“It’s everything from incorporating flexibility into our creed to re-evaluating how we value our employees and provide them with the resources they need to get their jobs done… there is an opportunity for all employers to make these meaningful changes,” she adds. “But we need to take action, rather than sit back and hope things return to ‘pre-pandemic normal’ because all signs point to that not happening.”
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