Why The Great Resignation may outlast the pandemic
Illustration: Vanessa W
Articles - 4 min read
Published on April 08, 2022

Why The Great Resignation may outlast the pandemic

It has been termed The Great Resignation, a movement said to have begun at the start of 2021 as the Covid-19 pandemic swept across the globe.

Candice C
Contributing Talent

According to the New York Times, the phrase was first coined by Anthony Klotz, a professor at Mays Business School in reference to the more than 30 million Americans who have quit their jobs since the spring of 2021.

The trend spawned #QuitTok videos on social media platform TikTok and even inspired an ‘Anti-Work’ Reddit thread where beleaguered employees swapped stories or fantasies about quitting their jobs.

A year later, there are signs that The Great Resignation trend doesn’t seem to be abating, but may actually be gaining in strength.

In November 2021, the number of Americans quitting their jobs surged to a record 4.5 million, reported Reuters.

Pandemic-led exodus

One possible reason for the trend, is that the pandemic has made people reexamine their priorities.

The pandemic is also changing attitudes to work, noted American economist Curtis Dubay.

Jobs that are traditionally less pleasant and with less skills are having a harder time retaining workers. Workers are just not putting up with it anymore.


In the US, some of the top reasons that caused workers to quit were unhappiness with how their employer treated them during the pandemic (19%), low pay or lack of benefits (17%), and a lack of work-life balance (13%), according to American job-search site Joblist.

Another indication that we have yet to see the tail-end of The Great Resignation trend is how 73% of currently-employed workers surveyed were actively thinking about quitting their jobs, while 22% of job seekers had quit their previous jobs.

Pandemic epiphanies”, says Sandeep Sharma, president of Asia at human resources (HR) software company Workday, have also led employees to proactively seek out new opportunities that better fit their expectations and lifestyle.

It’s not just a shift in priorities – some labour experts have also predicted a burgeoning quit-rate as companies gradually reopen their offices to welcome employees back on site.

Whether these employees are ready to do so, however, is a whole other story.

Here are several reasons why we think the #GreatResignation is here to stay.

1. The future of work looks to be remote

In a dire warning for companies to consider changing their employee policies, a Gartner Hybrid Workplace survey published in September 2021 predicted that an organisation could risk losing up to 39% of its workforce if it were to go back to a fully on-site arrangement.

It added that By 2024, 30% of corporate teams will be without a boss due to the self-directed and hybrid nature of work.

And according to EY’s 2021 Work Reimagined Employee Survey, only 15% of SEA respondents would prefer to work from office full time.

2. Individuals want more control of their time

Having work-life balance has been cited as a significant factor for many when considering future job opportunities.

A survey last month by Singapore-based jobs portal Indeed found that 56% of workers polled said flexible working options would encourage them to stay longer in their jobs.

Similarly, a 2021 World Economic Forum survey of close to 12,500 employed people in 29 countries found that a majority of respondents wanted flexible working to become the norm.

Almost a third (30%) of respondents said they would consider looking for another job if they were forced to go back to the office full time. Other surveys have also shown that people are even willing to take a pay cut in order to maintain a remote work arrangement.

3. Career progression is being redefined

Old definitions of career success have fallen by the wayside with the advance in technology and creation of new industries and jobs.

Case in point –  who would have known 30 years ago that the role of a YouTuber or content creator would become a thing?

And with non-linear career paths being considered the new normal, having multiple portfolios could become your calling card as transferable skills are what the companies of tomorrow will look for.

4. More income streams = higher income

The concept of having a “side hustle”, sometimes two, has been popularised in recent years.

And it’s almost a foregone conclusion that having multiple income streams most likely means you’re able to net a higher income [if you price your services or products correctly] than just by relying on one job.

More than the monetary rewards of course, is that you’re doing something that you enjoy with your time and are able to develop new skills concurrently. Win-win.

What are you going to do?

Against the backdrop of the pandemic and the Big Quit, people around the world are pressing ‘pause’ to reevaluate their lives.

Is working a traditional 9 to 6 job something which can lead you to your goals? And if not, what are you going to do to get there?

Building a freelance career and showcasing your skills to a wider audience may be one solution. Here's a great way to get started.

You may also like to browse through our e-shop for some ‘conversation-starter’ tees when you next return to the office.

There’s a better way to grow. And it’s not the traditional way.

It’s about rethinking traditional employment archetypes. Can we progress from an economy built on full time employment habitually enslaved by unemployment fears, to one where individuals have greater autonomy and are self motivated to do work that inspires them? And as a result,  benefit the economy as a whole?

You can’t own full time employees. But you can build a winning team with talent management companies. As businesses demand more, external talents are emerging as the sure forerunners of an agile workforce. At Chance Upon, we partner businesses to get a head start over competition by creating collaborative work between companies and the right talents.

Hire anytime, hire anywhere. Hire exceptional.

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