Turnover Tsunami: A Post-Pandemic Workplace Trend

Unhappy employee contemplating leaving her job

Have you noticed recently an increase in people quitting their jobs in hopes of greener pastures? During the pandemic, employee-initiated quits slowed by 27% compared to the previous year. As some twenty million workers lost jobs during the pandemic, others felt a sense of limbo and clung to their jobs even if dissatisfied. Now that the pandemic may be waning, industry experts have coined the term turnover tsunami as they anticipate a giant wave of employees quitting jobs. Others refer to the phenomenon as the great resignation because studies show that nearly half (48%) of workers are thinking about quitting their jobs. While jumping into the vibrant job market may be tempting, anyone thinking about quitting should thoroughly assess before making this important life decision.

Workers report various reasons for seeking a new job, including better compensation, increased work-life balance, career growth, the pursuit of a dream job, isolation from working remotely and on the other end of the spectrum, anxiety or disinterest in going back to the office. Many share that as a result of Covid-19, they've had the time and opportunity to re-think their career and feel their work just isn't working anymore.

Job burnout is another common reason employees leave jobs. A recent poll by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) also states that 57% of U.S. employees report job burnout. While burnout is nothing new, most will agree that the burn intensified during the pandemic. Before quitting, it's critical to take some time for introspection. What do you want from work? What's missing from your current job, and how can you ensure that the missing link will be present in your next job? Self-reflection, career exploration, and a strategy are critical for a successful job move. For example:

What are your core values? Core values are a set of personalized fundamental beliefs, ideals, or practices that guide our lives -- both personally and professionally. Identifying the meaningful values in your life can help you achieve goals. It starts with clarifying what values are necessary for work and life satisfaction and ensuring any new job will satisfy those values.

Have you tried to modify or energize your current position? Are you on the fence because certain parts of your job are working and other factors are not? Are you feeling bored, underappreciated, overworked, or something else? Think about tools, resources, or technology that can resolve or ease the problem. If looking for growth, are there projects you can take on that offer a more significant challenge? Consider alternatives that will increase your satisfaction or fulfillment. Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting you stay in a job that isn't working for you. But, if the job is primarily good, perhaps some tweaks will tip the scale in a positive direction.

Do you have the right skills and experience for your next move? Have you built up enough experience to effectively market yourself for another role so that you have a better shot at getting the job? To maximize your success, assess what you have to offer a new job or employer along with any skill or experience gaps. Identify training and practical experience to fill those gaps to achieve the qualifications needed to land your target job.

Have you explored your options and researched potential job targets? Once you've self-reflected and know your interests, skills, and values, be sure to explore. Dig deep into different types of jobs and industries. Occupations that are lesser known exist all over the place. For example, have you heard of an Urban Agriculture Specialist? Or Personal Privacy Advisor? How about a Virtual Reality Designer? Research and exploration may help get you discover a dream job.

Is it really the job, or something else? Consider whether or not the stress, frustration, or dissatisfaction is coming from your job. Could it be from another area of your life? If so, perhaps it would be best to work out those issues so the stress doesn't simply follow you to your next job.

Finally, remember the golden rule: look before you leap. Look within to clarify what you want. Look carefully at your current job. Think about what you can achieve and whether you need a new job or some modifications to your current job. Look carefully at new opportunities to be sure of a good match and not just a change that may come with another set of stressors. Weigh your options carefully. Once you've evaluated the options, you'll be in a better position to make a well-thought-out, strategic decision.

Written by: Barbara Van Dyk

August 24, 2021

About the Author

Barbara Van Dyk headshot

Barbara is an experienced career counselor with a Master’s Degree in Counseling & Guidance from New York University, an undergraduate degree in Business Administration, and more than 20 years’ experience in the academic and corporate worlds.