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It’s not the ‘Great Resignation’ but the ‘Great Reprioritization’

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10.09.2021

This year, the questions on many leaders’ minds are “are my employees going to leave me?” And to use a popular term: “Is a ‘Great Resignation’ in progress?” Are people quitting their jobs at a scale and pace that we’ve never seen before? Not exactly. I recently conducted a study to more fully understand this phenomenon. It would appear that it’s actually a great “reprioritization,” not a great resignation.

Some 4 million people quit their jobs in April. But the spike in the quit rate is partly due to pent-up demand after two years of employees sitting tight during a volatile economic environment. We’re also relatively on-trend with respect to the rising quit rate over the last decade.

The other commonly cited statistic behind the assumption of the Great Resignation is that as many as 95% of the workforce is considering leaving their organization. It’s important to note that considering is not the same as actually leaving, and the fact that employees have an eye out for new opportunities has been the norm since LinkedIn became a household name.

I’d argue that it’s less important to know whether employees are considering leaving, and more important to understand why employees are considering leaving. Along those lines, I recently collected data that uncovered several trends that might help reframe this great resignation conversation. The findings demonstrate a more tangible understanding of what they should be considering and addressing.

I first conducted a review of published research in peer-reviewed journals in the organizational behavior field. The review uncovered that there were 14 overarching reasons why employees might want to leave an organization. Next, I recruited participants to complete a survey using an online panel data service. The sample consisted of a demographically diverse (age, gender, marital status,........

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