Great Resignation: Quitting Because of Bad Working Conditions
What started it all: After the pandemic, voluntary terminations in the U.S. increased rapidly. By 2021, the quitting rate in the U.S. had already reached an all-time high. Millions of people voluntarily changed jobs.
Great Reshuffle: Quitting Because of New Post-Pandemic Freedom
Increasingly, the Great Resignation evolved into the Great Reshuffle. With the removal of restrictions at the physical level, the trend to question one's own employment relationship accelerated after the pandemic. Employees at all compensation levels are seeking better pay, flexibility, cultural fit, and work-life balance. The reason for this is obvious: The demand in the labor market has grown so rapidly that people were left with a choice. And when in doubt, people opted for the higher-paying job, for the change. This development is by no means limited to the USA. Similar trends could be observed from Great Britain to Australia.
Quiet Quitting: New Interpretation of Meaningfulness, Changing Values and Growing Importance of Work-Life Balance in Gen Z
For a few months now, there has been talk of another trend “quiet quitting”, which is spreading as a social conversation via social media. Especially in the network TikTok the term Quiet Quitting is trending. The message “work is not your life” plays a central role here. This development in the labor market primarily affects Gen Z, but also goes beyond it. The high wealth of their parents, freedom to travel the world, study and work, a high social orientation, social awareness, and a greater awareness of their own needs lead to a new significance of work in the lives of Gen Z.
But Quiet Quitting here does not mean either quitting one's job or quitting mentally. Our study results show that, apart from salary, flexibility in working hours and location, as well as work-life balance are of central importance to candidates (Silent Resignation, 2022). Employees are willing to do their job well within the requirements of their job, but not willing to continue hustling or the work-hard-play-hard culture of the past. This can be seen both in the ranking of flexibility, and the fact that exciting and meaningful tasks are among the top 5 attractiveness factors. However, all this contradicts the interpretation that a wave of resignations is rolling toward us. It is rather a change in priorities.
Quick Quitting as a Result of the Existing Debate: Less Reluctance to Change Jobs Due to the Power Shift in Favor of Employees
Not Quiet Quitting but Quick Quitting is the latest buzzword coming up and that makes a lot of sense. Quick quitting refers to the trend that the share of people who change jobs before their first year of employment ("short tenure rate") has increased over the past two years. We understand Quick Quitting as a result of the ongoing debate about working conditions and power shifts. Awareness of the shift of power in the labor market in favor of employees has reached their minds. Especially among those who have a particularly wide range of choices. They show less reluctance to switch to a better offer.
A recent StepStone survey showed that one out of two people between the ages of 20 and 30 are actively looking for a new job (Silent Resignation, 2022). Almost every second person between the ages of 20 and 30 thinks about switching at least several times a week. In line with the hashtag #timeisprecious, employees don't want to waste their time with an employer who doesn't fit their expectations. Life is too short for bad work. Especially employees who have many offers at their disposal tend to switch - for a better fit, more flexibility and often a higher salary. This makes quick quitting fundamentally different from the concept of quiet quitting.
This development is also good news for companies: A recent study by the German Economic Institute (IW, 2021) showed that people who switched jobs last year were more satisfied than average with the opportunity to use their skills and abilities. In other words, for companies, more switching means better skill matching. A situation that benefits both employers and employees.
Outlook: The Future of Work is Based on Flexibility
What do these developments mean for us? The mindset of employees is changing mainly in two ways: First, a change in values is taking place in the younger generations, away from the hustle culture toward a real balance between life and work. This trend is actually not new, as we have been seeing a gradual shift towards more flexibility in the last few years, but it is currently experiencing a new boost. Second, awareness of the advantageous starting position on the labor market is entering the minds of employees. As a result, they are less and less willing to accept poor working conditions and switch to better jobs. This trend is an additional driver for the upgrade to work that we so desperately need in times of workerlessness to become more productive. The purchasing power of job changers is rising relative to those who do not change jobs, as is the productivity of their new employers.
In line with the trend of Quick Quitting, the future of work is based not only on flexibility in terms of working hours and location but also in horizontal movement through occupations and organizations. For example, results from our latest survey (Future. Work. Today, 2022) show that in order to achieve individual career goals, easy job changes, lateral moves, efficient and available re-skilling and upskilling, are becoming increasingly important and are changing our understanding of job security.
The fact that people are opting for the higher-quality job, the better match, and thus switching, is good news. Both employers and employees benefit: the former in the form of a motivated workforce, the latter in the form of a more attractive job with a higher salary. To attract motivated workers, it's time for employers not only to finally think about work but also to jobs better and make them better.