Both Monetary and Psychological Factors are Driving Mass Resignations

By Rachel Puryear

If you have been following the news at all lately, you’ve heard many takes on the recent mass job resignations. Of course, there are a variety of analyses out there of the phenomenon – most of which focus mainly on the economic factors.

However, psychological factors also play an important part, and the pandemic may have caused many people to fundamentally rethink the way that they approach getting jobs.

Two women dancing in the street after they both quit their jobs.

What the resignation situation underscores, deep down, is how very many people have been tolerating profoundly unsatisfactory jobs and work arrangements. Their willingness to quickly resign – often without even having something else lined up – reflects a strong sense that they were putting too much of their lives into a job for too little in return. Having spare cash and benefits removed a barrier to quitting for many, and so therefore, many quit.

It is not surprising how many people hate their jobs, though, when we look at how most people get jobs. Most people don’t think about how well a job will work for them when they are job seeking – they are thinking instead that they need to take a job, any job that will maybe barely pay their bills, so that they can survive and support their families. Whether a job is good for health, is not more stress than the person can manage without negative health effects, whether a job fits well into a person’s lifestyle in terms of flexibility and remote options, or whether reasonable career advancement options exist in a job; are typically more of an afterthought.

Here’s another question, though: What if most people approached romantic relationships the way they approach jobs? What if people just wanted to be with someone, anyone who would take us, without much regard for compatibility and shared values?

Oh, wait…that’s actually a common problem. Settling for unsatisfying relationships for fear of being alone has been a driving force behind high numbers of dysfunctional personal relationships since forever. Divorce rates have only been high for several decades, but they skyrocketed in the 1960’s in the U.S. after barriers to dissolving a marriage were largely lifted.

Turning back to how this ties into mass resignations: Now that barriers to quitting have been removed for many, we are seeing a similar skyrocket in people leaving their jobs and their bosses. The dissatisfaction had been there a long time, but people tolerated it out of economic necessity – once they don’t have to keep a hated job in order to survive financially, then they quit.

In fairness, it should also be noted that for many people, quitting their jobs goes beyond dissatisfaction. Lack of child care, concerns about covid and large numbers of still-unvaccinated people (in public-facing jobs), and other factors are also forcing people to quit – even if they are not necessarily dissatisfied with their most recent jobs.

Also, in fairness, many people generally don’t have the luxury of considering job satisfaction before taking work – instead, they need that paycheck asap to stay housed and fed, even if they hate the job. But that’s the point of what the mass resignations demonstrate – that when people are not desperate for a job, they have the luxury of holding out for something much better suited to them.

For many, the bold decision to switch jobs and even careers is existential. Most of us either lost at least one person we knew during the pandemic, or know someone who did. There was the realization that any of us could catch the virus and be one of the people who got very seriously ill or died from it, or that this could happen to our loved ones.

Of course, we all lose people in life, and always worry about bad things happening to ourselves, and to our loved ones. That is nothing new. However, the pandemic brought the intensity and scale of this normal life phenomenon to a different level – it was on most people’s minds, on a regular basis.

People remembered again that life is short and precious, and that tomorrow is never promised. Perhaps they decided to finally go for doing something more satisfying with the short time we all have on this Earth; rather than staying in a dreary situation that they don’t fit well into, until one day they drop dead. And perhaps this is exactly the kind of courage and self-starting that the world needs a lot more of right now.

Thank you, dear readers, for reading, following, and sharing. Here’s to being brave enough to pursue and more satisfying and better fitting life, for you and for your loved ones.

If there is something you would like to see addressed on this blog, please reach out to me here to ask. If you want to see more content like this and you don’t already subscribe, click here to get the Free Range Life and Work newsletter 2x a month!


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