When organizational behavior professor Anthony Klotz coined the expression “the great resignation” in 2021, his sole intent was to talk about the trend that has led to large numbers of American workers leaving their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But now, Kloots wonders if he, somewhat inadvertently, created a prophecy that ended up coming true.
Quitting smoking has gone viral – both online and in real life. In the United States, for example, data released in January by the North American Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that About 49 million professionals quit their jobs in 2021 and more than 50 million in 2022.
And there are studies that show that many professionals who stayed in their jobs still considered quitting.
The LinkedIn survey included a group of 2,000 professionals. Among them, about three-quarters of Gen Zers and two-thirds of millennials are considering quitting their jobs this year.
And older generations are still considering potential layoffs, including 55% of Gen Xers and a third of Baby Boomers.
- More than half of the workers are willing to look for a new job to leave the face-to-face model 100%
Professionals who quit give many reasons for their decision, such as: Desiring more flexibility, money, or benefits, or moving away from negative company cultures. But there is also the idea that layoffs lead to layoffs.
Researchers coined the term “infection exclusion” to describe the phenomenon by which, when a person quits, the chance that his or her colleagues will follow suit increases—according to one study, by as much as 25%.
For Klotz, the number of resignations dominating headlines made the impact spread rapidly through the professional world. According to him, in a way, the “feel-good factor” of leaving a job can be an asset for professionals.
“Many of us have felt somewhat helpless during the years of the pandemic and even the years leading up to it,” he says. “Leaving your job can be an empowering moment.”
He continues, “During our relationship with the employer, he has power. We need the salary, we do what the employer wants us to do, even if we don’t want to.”
“Once you start thinking about quitting, the power dynamic starts to change. And that’s really seductive and interesting.”
“When you start thinking ‘I don’t need this anymore, I can do what my colleague did and go work at that other company,'” says Klotz, “there’s a surge of strength.”
It’s tempting, he says, because it “feels liberating.” And when professionals are constantly reading the news about people quitting or even watching viral resignation videos, “it can be hard to resist.”
Before it became popular, Klotz says, “Quitting smoking was kind of a taboo, something you went through on your own.
But not all is well. The tendency to quit can overshadow the difficulty many people have when leaving their jobs.
For Klotz, for example, one of the disadvantages of the resignation becoming so public is the feeling that it would be a reasonably easy and quick decision. This can lead people to make a hasty call and quit instead of thinking through the decision.
If everyone was doing it, it would sound easy, according to Klotz, “but of course it’s one of the biggest career decisions a person can make.”
“It’s hard to predict how things will turn out.”
Caitlin Porter, Professor of Management at the University of Memphis in the US, is one of the authors of a recent analysis of research on the employee turnover epidemic. She points out that the resignation letter as a stream rarely tells us the real difficulties of the process.
“Do you know what it feels like to leave a company?” you ask. “If you live in an urban area, there may be another employer you can visit, but if not, you may move your family.”
Starting a new position is not easy.
“It typically takes at least six months to a year to get up to speed and build the relationships you need to be effective in your new role,” Porter continues. “Your whole life is at stake. Starting a new job is really one of the most stressful times. It’s a lot of work. It’s very hard.”
Porter adds that the newfound glamor of bootlegs can also tempt the wrong people.
The people most likely to be infected are the ones who are least “integrated” into their jobs – often younger employees or employees with a “little settling” in other demographics who may not actually be in the best position to leave.
And even if the new job offers better pay, flexibility, or other benefits, changing companies frequently can make it difficult to advance professionally.
Experts say that professionals who quit before the “selected” time — that is, before they’ve made enough at their current job to cash in on the next, or at least have stayed long enough to get good references — can get their careers damaged.
This can be especially negative for already naturally marginalized groups, such as women and people of color, who typically “don’t rise to the same levels in organizations as members of privileged groups,” according to Porter.
For her, this is partly due to the fact that those same groups have the highest turnover rates. It is an issue that only exacerbates the trend towards segregation.
Though it may have helped fuel the quitting trend, Anthony Klotz advises the pro that the best thing to do now is to resist the temptation. He states that a potential career transition should not be treated as a small change, but as an important life change – simply because that is the truth.
“In a way, there’s an analogy between quitting a long-term relationship and dissolving it in your personal life,” he says. “It’s complicated, it’s emotional and you don’t really know how you’re going to feel until it happens. It’s hard to predict how it will go.”
Read the original version of this report (in English) on the BBC Worklife website.
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