Reinforcing data recently released by The Principal Financial Group, a new study from CareerArc/ Harris Polls is reporting that 23% of Americans plan to quit within the next 12 months (Nov 2021 - Nov 2022).
Additionally, these quits look to be happening in a short, upcoming span of time. Most (70%) are looking to quit between now and February 2022, and 36% are planning to quit before the end of 2021. Based on Octobers's employment rate of 128.85 employed Americans, that points to 20.7 million quits by February, with 10.6 million of those quits happening by year-end.
This follows on a record-setting year of quits, as the report notes: April set a record quit rate of 2.9%—the highest since 2000. What followed were back-to-back months of record-setting resignation rates that so far have peaked at 3% in September which translates to about 4.4 million Americans quitting.
The top reasons cited for resigning were: the desire for better working conditions (32%); burnout (30%); and higher pay (29%).
The majority (59%) of those who plan to quit in the next 12 months are either already looking for a new job or will start their job search between now and February 2022. Interestingly, 11% of those who plan to quit within the next 12 months have no plans of looking for a new job.
"Employees have enough savings after being stuck at home for a year or so to take some time off and consider their next move. Employees also discovered that you can work from home whether or not the company has previously allowed it and how much they miss out on if they go back into an office."
"We have changed. Work has changed. The way we think about time and space has changed," says Tsedal Neeley, a professor at Harvard Business School and author of the book Remote Work Revolution: Succeeding From Anywhere. Workers now crave the flexibility given to them in the pandemic - which had previously been unattainable, she says.
Millennials and Gen Z are leading the charge - younger employees (ages 18-34) are more than twice as likely as older employees (ages 35-64) to say they plan to resign from their jobs in the next 12 months (34% vs. 15%). While this reflects a more mobile workforce, one with (on average) less financial worries in terms of mortgage payments, school-age children, etc, it is also a product of generations who have grown up in a society where job-hopping, gig work, and entrepreneurship are considered normal, as opposed to older generations where longer-term stability was still more of the norm. As Epstein notes: "Societal pressures and norms around job-hopping are powerful predictors of how fluid the workforce is. In countries like Japan or France, workers tend to stay with their company for decades. The U.S., however, is on the opposite end of the spectrum nowadays and the fluidity is fueled by the fact that it is now considered normal."
All that said: employees across tenure-levels are leaving. While attrition amongst younger employees always tends to be high, new research from people-data analytics firm Visier is showing that mid-tenure resignations spiked dramatically over the past 12 months. The report points out that "Between 2020 and 2021, that changed. The current resignation rate of employees with a 5-10 year tenure is 56.8% higher than in 2020, and for employees with a 10-15 year tenure, it’s 54.6% higher in 2021 than in the same period of 2020."
“The volume at which people are changing jobs is unprecedented,” Ian Cook, Visier’s vice president of people analytics, tells CNBC Make It, which he says isn’t surprising given the way people have reevaluated their work and personal values during the pandemic, but it’s catching employers by surprise nonetheless.
Vaccination Requirements Not a Driver
Employers requiring employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine ranked low on the list (16%) of reasons for resigning among those who plan to quit within the next 12 months. This statistic is notable as the Biden Administration and the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) work to solidify vaccine mandates in the workplace in 2022.
Employer-data reinforces this. Delta Airlines didn’t mandate a shot, but in August it did subject unvaccinated workers to a US$200 per month health insurance surcharge. Yet the airline said fewer than 2% of employees have quit over the policy. At Indiana University Health, the 125 workers who quit are out of 35,800 total employees, or 0.3%.
Gird Your Loins
To put the latest date in concrete terms: while recruiters may have felt stressed over the past 12 months, that trend looks to accelerate. There's going to be a lot of backfilling to do, along with new roles to fill as companies continue to emerge from the pandemic's impacts.