Over the previous few years, millions of employees have left their jobs. Resigning has, in some ways, taken on a glamorous air, albeit that's not always a good thing.
Anthony Klotz, a professor of organizational behavior, first used the term "the Great Resignation" in 2021 to describe a trend. Klotz now questions whether he partially made a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Quitting has become popular, both online and off. For instance, according to US Bureau of Labor Statistics statistics from January, about 49 million workers in the US left their positions in 2021, and more than 50 million did so in 2022.
Many people who didn't quit their jobs are still considering doing so, according to several studies. For example, two-thirds of millennials and nearly three-quarters of Gen Zers are considering leaving their employment this year, according to LinkedIn statistics from a survey of 2,000 workers. A third of Baby Boomers and 55% of Gen Xers are among the older generations who are thinking about leaving their current jobs.
There is also the notion that leaving one job leads to more leaving, despite the fact that leaving one job is frequently justified by the desire for more flexibility, money, or benefits. Turnover contagion is a term researchers used to explain a phenomena whereby the likelihood that one person will leave their position will increase—according to one report, by as much as 25%—whenever that person leaves. According to Klotz, the impact of resignation rates dominating headlines has extended quickly throughout the working world.
According to Klotz, the "coolness factor" of quitting a job can sometimes provide employees a sense of empowerment. Many of us felt a little helpless during the pandemic and even in the years before it, he claims. "Leaving your job can give you a sense of empowerment."
"The employer has the power during our relationship with our employer," he explains. Even though we don't want to, we comply with the employer's requests since we need to receive a paycheck. When you begin to consider leaving, the balance of power changes. And that's incredibly alluring and seductive. when you begin to feel as though you no longer require it. I may follow my coworker's example and apply to work for this other company; "it's a surge of power."
According to Klotz, that is enticing since "it seems liberating. It feels liberating." Furthermore, he adds, "it can be difficult to resist following in that" when workers are continually reading news articles about people quitting or even viewing viral videos of them doing so.
Before it became popular, Klotz claims that "quitting has been somewhat of a taboo topic, something you manage alone. It was a somewhat covert procedure. There has been a wave of people who feel more at ease discussing it in recent years.
However, not all is rosy. Quitting is fashionable, which might obscure the fact that many people find it difficult to leave their jobs.
For instance, according to Klotz, one drawback of how commonplace resigning has become is that it gives individuals the impression that making this choice is simple and quick. That might cause them to make a snap decision to leave rather than a deliberate one. According to Klotz, "when of course, it's one of the biggest career decisions that you can make," it appears simple to undertake if everyone else is doing it.
The latest research review on turnover contagion's co-author, Caitlin Porter, an assistant professor of management at The University of Memphis in the US, notes that the complexity of the quitting trend is rarely discussed in discussions of it. "Do you have any experience leaving a job?" If you reside in a city, perhaps there is another employer you could switch to; otherwise, perhaps you are transferring your family," she advises.
It's difficult to begin a new role, either. Porter explains, "It typically takes at least six months to a year to get up to speed and develop the relationships you need to be productive in that capacity. "Your entire life is upended. It's actually one of the most stressful times to start a new career. It's a ton of labor. So difficult.
According to experts, employees who leave their jobs earlier than they'should' risk stunting their careers.
Porter continues, "The new-found glamour of quitting can also be seductive to the wrong people." Workers who are less "embedded" in their jobs—often younger or "low-tenure" employees in other demographics—who may not be in the best position to quit, are those who are most vulnerable to the leaving contagion.
Moving around regularly might make it more difficult to advance in your career, even if a new position offers better compensation, more flexibility, or other advantages. According to the experts, if employees leave their jobs before they "should," that is, before they've accomplished enough in their present position to help them in their next one, or have at least stayed long enough to get a good reference, they risk stunting their careers.
According to Porter, this can be especially harmful for already oppressed groups like women and people of color who frequently "don't ascend to the same levels in organizations as authority group members". She continues by saying that this is partly because those same groups experience the highest rates of turnover. The leaving trend has only served to deepen the problem.
Klotz advises employees to avoid leaving their jobs just because it's the 'popular' thing to do right now, despite the fact that he probably contributed to the high-profile nature of leaving. According to him, a change in employment should be seen as a significant alteration in one's life because, in reality, it is.
Resigning and ending a long-term engagement in your personal life are similar in certain ways, he claims. It's difficult, emotional, and you won't really understand how you'll feel about it until you've moved past it. It's difficult to foresee how everything will come out.