More American workers are quitting their jobs than at any time in at least two decades, indicating optimism among many professionals and also increasing the struggle companies face trying to keep up with the economic recovery.
The wave of resignations marks a sharp turn from the pandemic’s darkest days, when workers craved job security as they weathered a national health and economic crisis. In April, the proportion of American workers who quit their jobs was 2.7%, according to the Labor Department, a jump of 1.6% a year earlier to the highest level since at least 2000.
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The shift of workers to new jobs and careers is driving employers to raise wages and offer promotions to keep talent. Employee appetite for change indicates that many professionals feel confident about jumping ship in search of better prospects, despite high unemployment rates.
While a high churn rate affects employers with higher turnover costs and, in some cases, business interruptions, labor economists said turnover generally indicates a healthy job market as people gravitate toward jobs more suited to their jobs. skills, interests and personal lives.
In March 2020, Edward Moses was hired as an information technology specialist at a software company, believing he would be part of a team supporting his colleagues in four U.S. offices. Instead, after a round of layoffs, discovered that the team had a member, and it was him. “It was indeed me against the queue at the help desk,” said the 37-year-old.
The days were stressful, he said, with few opportunities for promotion. A 5% increase after a strong performance review did not ease his frustration. This spring, Mr. Moses gave notice and started a new job, and career, as a technical writer at the electronic signature company DocuSign. INC.
“It feels wonderful to take my unconditional love for proper grammar and turn it into work,” said Mr. Moses, who has a master’s degree in education.
Several factors are driving job turnover. Many people reject a return to normalcy, prefer the flexibility of remote work, or are reluctant to be in an office before the virus clears. Others are burned out by the stress and added workloads of the pandemic, while some are seeking a higher salary to make up for the loss of their spouse’s job or used the past year to rethink their career path and change gears.
Collectively, HR executives and labor experts see a wave of resignations. In a March 2000 worker survey by Prudential Financial INC.,
a quarter said they plan to soon seek a position with a different employer.
“People see the world differently,” says Steve Cadigan, a talent consultant who ran human resources at LinkedIn in its early years. “It’s going to take time for people to think, ‘How can I disengage from where I am and reconnect to something new?’ We will see a massive change in the next few years. “
Before the pandemic, Jenica Draney was an administrator at Utah Global, a public-private partnership at the University of Utah that serves international students. But when the pandemic moved classes online, he took on “a kind of product manager role” for Utah Global, he said, overseeing the move to virtual courses.
“I really enjoyed finding and identifying bottlenecks and discovering workflows and processes to solve those bottlenecks. That’s not a job I’ve done before, ”the 33-year-old said.
That core of enthusiasm solidified into a new career plan after the university asked administrative staff to return to campus. Mrs. Draney was reluctant; remote work suited her better and she was still worried about the virus. She paid for a course to become certified in scrum master techniques, which help software development teams communicate and meet their goals, and quickly landed a job as a solutions architect with Pluralsight, a technology education software provider.
“The availability of work in technology is incredible. So I think I have entered a world of opportunity, “he said.
For many workers wanting a change, there seem to be many options. Some sectors, such as manufacturing and leisure and hospitality, are getting a boost from government stimulus packages and enthusiastic consumer spending. Employers are looking for workers, eager to choose promising candidates.
“The job market in Kentucky just took off,” said Ian Crawford, a program manager who left his job at a large industrial company in April to work for Fabricated Metals, a manufacturer in Louisville.
Crawford was uneasy at his old company when, unexpectedly, he learned of an internal opening. He dusted off his resume, updated it, and applied it. While you waited for a response, LinkedIn sent you an alert for a vacancy at a company it had been monitoring.
“I don’t believe in destiny or destiny, but the job description aligned with my resume almost exactly,” he said. With one click, he applied. Within days, the 33-year-old received an offer with a higher base salary than he had requested plus a quarterly incentive bonus.
Employers are trying to avoid loss of talent. At Schneider Electric North America, 65% of employees identified as high potential got promotions or new roles in 2020, said Mai Lan Nguyen, senior vice president of human resources for the industrial company. “We are all alert. The best talents have many options, “he said.
A trend some employers are seeing: high turnover among newer employees, many of whom started remotely and have never met their co-workers in person.
During the pandemic, Detroit-based Ally Financial Inc. hired about 2,000 employees “who have never set foot in our organization,” and turnover is highest among that group, said Kathie Patterson, director of human resources. from the lender. “It’s easier to have a relationship right now than it is to build a relationship,” she says.
Remote work has also expanded the recruiting pool for rival companies and tech firms, making employees with digital skills ready to be poached by employers across the country, Patterson said. The company hopes the Ally’s Own It program, which started in 2019 and awards 100 shares to each employee, will build loyalty and “an owner mentality” among workers, he said. The shares are consolidated after three years.
Cadigan sees long-term trends at work in job change data. “Safety used to be stationary, and now safety at work is movement. The more I move, the more they know me, the bigger my network, the closer I am to trying the racing buffet table to see what I’m really good at and what the market will pay me at, ”said the talent consultant. He says.
Melanie Chávez, who calls herself a networking teacher, has had two job changes since the pandemic began. The first was involuntary; she was fired last June. Her next job wasn’t a perfect fit, says the 28-year-old.
Then, out of nowhere, an executive search firm messaged him on LinkedIn. Ms. Chávez started there this spring as a Research Associate, helping to obtain various executive rosters for nonprofit clients. The job requires your networking skills and your passion for diversity and inclusion.
“I really love this job,” he says. “I really feel like I’m going to shine.”
Write to Lauren Weber at [email protected]
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