The Great Awakening



What is Happening?


The American workforce is seeing a rapid-paced anomaly many are calling the “Great Resignation.” In my opinion, to refer to it as “The Great Awakening” (as many are apt to call it) would not be an exaggeration. Here’s what’s happening,

  • Since the early fall of 2021, more than four million employees have decided to leave their employment.

  • Some surveys show more than half the workers left their employment due to inadequate salaries.

  • Others were unable to find scheduling flexibilities and workable accommodations for childcare.

  • Feeling unappreciated and finding no pathway for advancement were also cited as reasons for looking elsewhere.


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2021, over 47 million Americans voluntarily quit their jobs, an unprecedented mass exit from the workforce spurred on by Covid-19 that is now widely being called the Great Resignation. (1)


An interesting statistic is the rate of layoffs which hovered just under 1% this past year, the lowest rate since 2000 when record keeping began.


Although the Pandemic certainly exasperated the already rising exodus from the workforce, I don’t think it created it. The accelerating rapid ascent of the early wave of resignations had been drawing the attention of many as early as 2009.


This global occurrence has made us aware of habits, trends, and practices that needed to be addressed.


ABN Resource observes, “During the ‘Great Resignation,’ or the Great Awakening, the workforce has evolved into one in which workers value organizations that offer three specific things:

  1. Meaningful work

  2. Opportunities to make an impact

  3. Environments that foster well-being


Many organizations have already incorporated these in the employee value proposition, and many more are working toward doing so. Business leaders who ultimately cannot meet this moment are at risk of losing a skilled workforce.” (2)


Awakened and Activated


The emotional pushback from the COVID-19 Pandemic awakened an avalanche of responses. Wikipedia cites, “Possible causes include wage stagnation amid a rising cost of living, long-lasting job dissatisfaction, safety concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the desire to work for companies with better remote-working policies. Some economists have described the Great Resignation as akin to a general strike.


The term “Great Resignation” was coined by Anthony Klotz, a professor of management at Mays Business School at Texas A&M University, in May 2021, when he predicted a sustained mass exodus.” (3)


What May Be on the Horizon


We’re already seeing a reassessing of how leadership and management relate to employees who work with them. Is a wave of restructuring in our future?

If so, we may be reevaluating:

  • How effective is our onboarding process

  • How well we train our employees

  • Our accommodations, incentives, and promotion policies

  • How we integrate our onsite and remote employees


Derek Thompson comments, “There is a Great Reshuffling of people and businesses around the country. For decades, many measures of U.S. entrepreneurship declined. But business formation has surged since the beginning of the pandemic, and the largest category by far is e-commerce. This has coincided with an uptick in moves, especially to the suburbs of large metropolitan areas.” (4)


Add to these complexities the challenge of addressing the needs of all five generations currently in our workforce. I believe we may be seeing more resignations leading to either another migration or a new normal of employee renegotiations.


End Notes

(1) U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

(2) ABN Resource “The Great Resignation or The Great Awakening?” https://bit.ly/3kh9BSL

(3) Wikipedia “Great Resignation” https://bit.ly/3xZbTOd

(4) Derek Thompson “The Great Resignation is Accelerating” https://bit.ly/3KurNmE




*** This article was authored by John Picarello, Chief Leadership Officer at Lions Pride Leadership Co. ***

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