As the pandemic spread fear and uncertainty amongst employees, a global shift in focus and priorities has led people to demand different expectations from their employers.

For companies that cannot meet these needs, workers are quitting in droves.

Who Coined The Great Resignation?

Professor of Management, Anthony Klotz, unintentionally coined the term, “The Great Resignation”, when he said it during an interview. He later stated that he created the term to describe to his life and what was happening within the global workforce.

The phrase was quickly picked up and utilized across various media sources.

The term, however, goes far beyond people resigning. It represents Millennials and Gen Z’s current thoughts on life and goals they have for the future.

What Is The Great Resignation of 2021?

The Great Resignation is a phenomenon in which millions of employees have quit their jobs following the impact of COVID-19.

As vaccine rates increased across the US in April 2021, so did the rate of resignations. In April alone, 4 million Americans voluntarily quit their jobs.

According to the Work Index Trend 2021, as compiled by Microsoft, more than 40% of the entire global workforce are looking to quit their jobs this year.

And it’s not just the US where resignation rates are soaring.

6.0% of the German workforce quit in relation to COVID-19, followed by 4.7% of the UK, 2.9% of the Netherlands and 2.3% of the French.

This mass departure is happening over many industries, but it is especially prevalent in service and retail work. In a survey by PWC, 88% of executives reported a higher turnover rate than usual.

This shift in focus will cause companies to rethink employee expectations and workplace culture if they are to employ and retain good workers.

When Did The Great Resignation Start?

Between December 2000 and the beginning of the global pandemic in 2020, resignation rates remained below 2.4% in the US.

In March 2020, during the initial stages of the pandemic, 8.6% of the US workforce was laid off, while April’s figures hit 7.2%. In response, the resignation rate fell to a seven-year low of 1.6% as employees worried about job security and financial stability.

But in 2021, there was a paradoxical shift. As uncertainty hung in the air with a virus that could not be controlled, people began to quit their jobs in massive numbers.

What Caused The Great Resignation?

The pandemic may have sparked fear in employees’ stability, but as time went on, COVID-19 allowed people to rethink the way they lived and worked. The challenging times made them refocus on their chosen career path and long-term goals.

The pandemic impacted billions of people across the world and shifted the global mindset to one where people value more of their time. With many forced to work from home at the height of the spread, people discovered they liked this way of living and began exploring options to make this a long-term solution.

Working from home allows for greater flexibility of hours and promotes a healthy work-life balance. Without commuting times, people have more hours to spend with their loved ones and do things that make them feel good.

Additionally, as people spent less, they realized they could live with less. Hidden costs came into focus, such as transport, lunches out, and dry-cleaning bills.

Another critical factor in the Great Resignation was the treatment of employees during the lockdown. Many felt undervalued and unheard, no longer willing to contribute to their job in the manner they once had.

Furthermore, financial restraints exacerbated poor work culture, pushing companies to the brink. In a time of great stress, workers expected support from their employers. When that didn’t happen, workers rethought their options.

What Should I Be Aware of Before I Quit My Job?

People may have spent less during the height of the pandemic, but it doesn’t mean we will maintain that level of savings long term.

Before quitting your job, it’s vital to ensure that you not only have the financial backing to do it, but you can soak up the loss of any employee benefits such as healthcare coverage or pension schemes.

The Great Resignation is about working out what’s best for you—weighing up the options of employment vs. freelancing or self-employment and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

How Can I Take Advantage of The Great Resignation?

If you don’t intend on quitting your employment any time soon or don’t have the financial means to do so, there are still many ways you can turn the Great Resignation to your benefit.

The first effect of this significant event is that employers must now look at the way they treat their employees and the working environment provided for them.

Great Resignation

  • With the change in climate, you can negotiate the flexibility you require from your employment. Many jobs now offer the opportunity to work at least one day from home. Use that to your advantage. More time at home means less commuting and a lower cost of transportation. If your company doesn’t offer remote work, you can use it as a tool to leverage a higher rate of pay.
  • Companies will be looking to hire and retain employees who are keen to stay with them for a prolonged time. Express your loyalty to the company and use this to negotiate skills-building and training courses that will benefit your current role and your future employ-ability.
  • Workplace culture has never been as crucial as it is post-COVID. The global shift in perspective means that employees are no longer willing to work long hours in unfulfilling and unrewarding roles. Remember that this applies to you as well.
  • In the current climate, you can shape your workplace culture. Employers are working hard to create environments that their employees want to work in. If your workplace doesn’t promote balance, talk to your employer about how to rectify this, as there’s a high chance they’ll be grateful for your feedback.

If not, remember that there are plenty of alternative options available right now. Many jobs are offering higher rates of pay and bonuses to attract workers. If your employer isn’t matching these terms, you can cite other employment opportunities to gain a pay rise or greater perks at your current job.

Getting Ahead in Your Employment

Jobs that lend themselves to remote work are likely to be more competitive than ever now, but if you’re a graduate or seasoned professional looking to take a step up the career ladder, now could be your perfect opportunity.


With an influx of changes across industries, it is worth doing your research to explore your options and work out your pay scale. Take location, qualifications, and experience into account, then utilize online tools such as Glassdoor or PayScale to access relevant data points.

Create a Competitive Advantage

When the entire global infrastructure is shifting, it’s a good idea to examine how it’s changing and boost your skill set in those areas. By anticipating the future needs of clients and businesses, you enable yourself to become a prime candidate.

Commit to Balance

When approaching a potential employer, know what you want, what you’re worth, and don’t accept lower. Finding suitable employment is about balancing your job responsibilities with your personal needs. If they’re asking too much for too little, then it’s time to reconsider.


Whether you’re looking to quit your job and change your career direction, or you’re happy to stay in your current position but would love to see some added perks, the Great Resignation could prove beneficial to your cause.

If you’ve been pondering a job change, now could be the time to take the plunge, but you should not quit on a whim to follow the crowd.

Most importantly, find your best work-life balance. The shift of focus following the pandemic of 2020 has opened doors for that to happen. Embrace this opportunity to learn, grow, explore, and shape your career to obtain the flexibility and benefits you desire.

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