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It’s no surprise or secret that getting up in the morning to go to work can be a real chore sometimes — especially if someone’s stuck in a dead-end job they don’t even particularly like anymore. As the economy recovers from the depression of the pandemic and businesses continue to open back up, many workers are debating whether or not a return to work is even worth it after being faced with their own mortality.
And after hearing about the trend of workers leaving on virtually every news channel since August, it serves as no surprise either that the labor market is looking pretty bleak.
People are leaving their jobs at historic levels — with one in four people quitting their job this year, according to data from the people analytics firm Visier. And that number is only looking to grow, especially among young adults and women, before the end of 2021. Now, it’s important to recognize that a large portion of that number are people looking to switch jobs or career paths, with about 25 percent actually quitting their jobs this year. And leading the turnover are mid-tenured employees and women, according to Visier.
So, what’s the big problem? No one is coming in to fill the record-breaking number of job openings. And honestly, they can’t be blamed for not wanting to enter a workforce that doesn’t value them as real people instead of mere tools to get the job done.
And one of the states where the rate of workers quitting their jobs the most? Iowa. In August, 3.6 percent of workers left their jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s not far from the state with the highest uptick of employee departures from the workforce — Kentucky at 4.5 percent.
The Big Quit is here — and for some pretty valid reasons.
The glaringly obvious ones are that workers are tired of enduring inconvenient hours coupled with poor compensation and benefits, or a lack thereof. Research shows that workers quit when they experience burnout, a lack of flexibility, a desire to work from home and are managing poor mental health. And if you walk in any office right about now, you can probably find one worker who is experiencing these things simultaneously. What’s more, a lack of opportunity for growth and promotions is a large contributing factor to workers leaving, too.
University of Iowa Tippie College of Business research professor Stephen Courtright said the pandemic forced people to confront their own mortality and reflect on their career goals at large. COVID-19 disrupted the tendency for people to go through the motions and forced them to evaluate their priorities — and even bigger than that, what they really want out of life.
As a result, change needs to come on the fundamental level. Companies and industry leaders need to rethink traditional models of company structure to be more sustainable — meaning, employees need to be treated as real human beings instead of work minions or small cogs in the company machine. Leaders need to adopt a more open mindset about what workers need to flourish and produce compelling, successful results for themselves and the company at large. That can mean a lot of different things for different people, but a great place to start is actually listening to what current staff wants to maintain retention. That could mean transitioning to a 4-day workweek or a hybrid office schedule. It could mean shorter work hours where employees don’t come into the office before the sun rises or leave after the sun has set. It could mean more company get-togethers and events to foster a comfortable and inclusive office culture, where community can actually be built.
People's lives are bigger than what they do for a living. Show them they’re more.
Nichole Shaw is a Gazette editorial fellow. Comments: email@example.com