The “Great Resignation” and What to Do About It

July 13, 2021 by Verified First

The “Great Resignation” and What to Do About It

Now that confidence in the economy is growing and vaccination rates have increased, many people have left their jobs. Another forty percent are considering leaving their jobs to seek opportunity elsewhere — something economists are calling “the great resignation.” To put the wave of people leaving into perspective, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the United States had 9.3 million job openings in April of 2021, four million of which are a result of people quitting their jobs — a record high. To understand the current labor market, it’s important to understand why people are resigning, who is resigning, and what employers (like you!) can do about the “great resignation.” 

Why are people resigning?

One component of the overwhelming amount of resignations is the increased confidence in the environment. People who perhaps would’ve quit their jobs earlier in 2020 or 2021, hunkered down due to economic instability — something referred to as “sheltering in job.” Now, with greater confidence in their surroundings, they’re leaving their companies and roles. 

However, the “great resignation” goes much deeper than increased confidence.

While people sheltered at home or went to the frontlines as essential workers, many realized, and are continuing to realize, their expectations for their work environment. With more time and pressure to think about their careers, many employees nationwide came to the realization that they are burnt out, stalled in professional development, are wanting to pursue personal interests like family, traveling, other hobbies, and so on. 

Others, who have had the time as remote workers to refocus on personal interests and experience the luxury of an autonomous work environment, have decided they want to leave behind their commutes and ditch going into the office. As employers start requiring employees to come back to their on-site locations, some employees have decided that not offering remote work is a deal-breaker. The geographic expansion of remote work opportunities has opened up the job market for candidates to choose from, expanding their salary expectations. Not to mention, employers who failed to engage their remote employees throughout COVID are more likely to see a decrease in loyalty, causing employees to be more open to considering new opportunities. 

Who is resigning during the “Great Resignation”? 

Recently, workforce analytics company, Visier, analyzed over nine million employee records across 4,000 different companies. The results? People between the ages 30-45 who are more established in their career are, on average, 22.07% more likely to put in their resignations. A stark comparison to the 20.3% decrease in resignations from younger people between ages 20-25. 

Two industries that have seen the highest amount of resignations are (1) high-tech industries with a 4.5% increase and (2) the healthcare industry with a 3.61% increase. These industries have faced a significant amount of stress and burnout — two of the main reasons people are resigning from their current roles. 

Additionally, we have seen an increase in managerial resignations, nearly 12% more than in 2019. Not only did the pandemic burn out these individuals, but it also disproportionately affected women. According to Visier’s research, one in three women are considering leaving the workforce, and 44% have considered reducing their hours/responsibilities. 

Why has the pandemic hit women so hard? As we saw daycare and schools close, women had to choose between working, tending to their children and families, or doing all of the above. As a result, studies revealed that there were 2.2 million fewer women in the workforce in October 2020 than in October 2019 — a drastic decrease. 

In a recent interview, Madeline Laurano, Founder of Aptitude Research, asked: “Are there women returnship programs that companies are thinking about? Are there more contract opportunities? Are there contingent workforce opportunities for women to be able to stay a part of the workforce?”

On top of Madeline’s questions, further considerations for increasing women in the workforce could mean:

  • Increased flexibility
  • Acceptance of gap years
  • Professional career development
  • Child care facilities
  • Extended parental leave policies

With a variety of factors influencing resignations at play here, HR and talent acquisition professionals alike should consider strategizing for how they can retain current employees and recruit the candidates who are participating in the “great resignation.”

What can you do about it: Tips to recruiting and retaining talent during the “Great Resignation.”

Employers need to start thinking about how they are going to rework their employee experience to retain current employees and recruit new ones. Thinking of employees means (1) helping them maintain a good work/life balance, (2) listening to their feedback, and (3) understanding what makes a positive and/or negative employee experience. By showing your employees that their input is seen, heard, and valued, it creates a culture of people who are looking to commit and grow within your organization. 

To revamp your recruitment and retention initiatives:

  • Re-align. First and foremost, align your HR and talent acquisition teams on recruiting, retaining, and improving the employee experience. Then, align with key stakeholders in your organization, including your leadership team.
  • Understand that people equal profit. An organization’s investment in talent means nothing if you can’t retain talent and engage them enough to be productive.
  • Rethink your employer brand strategy. When promoting your brand, seek to understand what inspires your workforce to do their jobs each day. Your employee value proposition is what makes candidates and employees choose you over the competition.
  • Prioritize the mental health of your employees. Supporting employee mental health in the workplace comes with benefits like (1) a strong company culture, (2) improved retention, (3) increased productivity, and (4) a stronger talent pipeline.
  • Reinvent your HR strategy. Embed into the business, understand business requirements, and seamlessly deliver HR services to the organization. Consider screening technology that will streamline your time-to-fill and improve the retention of quality of employees.


While we do not yet know what failing to adapt to the current demands of the labor market means for the future sustainability of organizations, one thing is for sure: a new normal is here.

It’s a candidate’s market right now so understanding why people are resigning, who is resigning, and what employers can do about the “great resignation”, is crucial to adapting and overcoming the new demands. 

For further insight on the current state of talent acquisition and its technology, check out our recent HR at the Table interview with industry-leading analyst and Founder of Aptitude Research, Madeline Laurano!

About Verified First
Verified First is known for delivering streamlined background screening backed by the best client support, and for developing the easiest, fastest HR system integrations, for free. Our client support team is U.S.-based, answers calls in seconds, resulting in hundreds of positive testimonials and a 96% customer satisfaction. Verified First's patent-pending, award-winning integrations include over 100 applicant tracking systems, and provide clients a turn-key experience.

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