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The Great Resignation of 2021

As we return from summer vacations and back into the full force of work, this weekend’s “Labour Day” might have a different feel to it. In FEE (Foundation for Economic Education), Hannah Cox wrote about what she calls “the Great Resignation of 2021”.

“If you don’t spend your days on TikTok or Reddit, you may be blissfully unaware of a growing movement urging people to quit their jobs en masse this fall.

The social media trend coincides with broader disruptions in the labour market. Monster, a global employment website, recently reported 95 percent of employees are considering changing jobs. This is on top of the 4 million people who already followed through and resigned in April.

The country’s labor market is in a precarious position. The policies of the pandemic spurred the sharpest economic contraction in US history, millions lost their jobs and are still out of work, and yet businesses have been unable to fill their open positions.

On top of all this, reports indicate employers may soon face more disruption from what is being described as “the Great Resignation,” as millions of workers prepare to say, “I quit.” … These employees intend to spend the summer months using their vacation days and enjoying the benefits of full-time employment before they jump ship and turn in their notice in autumn.”

(In response to this see “How to be a better boss during the Great Resignation.”)

Women Leaving the Workforce

In January of this year, Forbes noted that the pandemic has “fast-tracked” workforce trends including women leaving the workforce in higher numbers than men. This is in contrast to the 2009 recession when 71% of those who had lost their jobs were men (Source: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). Dr. Margie Warrell goes on to say:

“The most recent Women in the Workplace Report by McKinsey found, for the first time, that 1 in 4 women was considering stepping out of the workforce or downshifting their careers. Their study of over 40,000 employees concluded that if every woman who was considering quitting her job or reducing her workload actually did so, two million women would exit the US workforce. Women in senior roles, working mothers, and women of colour were most at risk.”

A Metric of Change in our Society

Something is happening – and this mass resignation by a generation is a metric of change in our society. Cox notes that “some workers used their down time during the pandemic to develop new skills or passions, and now they want to find roles that allow them to incorporate those interests into their day to day lives. Some are seeking roles that require less of their time out of a desire to allocate more time to their families or children. And then there are those who simply just don’t want to work.”

And it’s not all about work, as Prince Ea’s video noted above; it’s about wanting to quit “trying to live up to” other people’s oppressive expectations; quitting living a false life. I suspect it will take more than quitting a job to do that.

The Desire for Rest

Eugene Peterson observed that the first day after creation was completed, humanity’s first experience of life was to enjoy the rest of God in “sabbath“. We were made for both work and rest, but this great resignation is an example of people taking things into their own hands, even if they don’t know this is the distorted echo of the rest that can be found in God who designed it for us.

Jesus invites us to find our rest in Him:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest

To learn more about “Sabbath” see “Sabbath as Resistance.”


Addendum

The BBC published an article by Christine Ro on September 7: “Why ‘rage quitting’ is all the rage.”