The headlines are full of reports about the record number of employees quitting their jobs. According to a new Pew Research study conducted in February, the top reasons for this are low pay (63%), no opportunities for advancement (63%), and feeling disrespected at work (57%). While a fair amount of headlines suggest that there are large numbers of people simply choosing not to work, the research from Pew indicates that is not true. The majority of survey respondents who quit (and did not retire) are currently employed, 55% full-time and 23% part-time. Furthermore, 50% or more report their new employment situation has improved in pay (56%), advancement opportunities (53%), work-life balance (53%) and flexibility with work hours (50%).
The pandemic has greatly changed employees’ attitudes about work. Workers are less willing to tolerate poor work environments and low pay, and the strong hiring demand means they don’t have to. In fact, according to Pew, more than 60% of survey respondents said it was “easy” to find a new job, with a full third saying “very easy.” Other reasons for employees quitting, reported as “major” reasons by 25% of respondents included:
- Child care issues (nearly half of respondents in homes with at least one child under 18)
- Lack of flexibility regarding WHEN they can work
- Poor benefits like health care or paid time off
Additionally, a total of 70% of respondents reported that the number of hours worked, whether too many or too few, was also a major reason for quitting. There were some notable differences reported between white and non-white workers as well:
- Lack of flexibility (52% non-white, 38% white)
- Desire to relocate (41% non-white, 30% white)
- Working too few hours (37% white, 24% non-white)
- COVID vaccine requirements (17% non-white, 10% white)
Non-white respondents included those who identify as Black, Asian, Hispanic, some other race or multiple races. The sample size did not allow a further breakdown.
Quit rates have been higher among younger workers, workers with low pay, and those with lower levels of educational attainment. Many workers in these demographics also tend to have jobs with fewer benefits and less flexibility. The number of men who report better work-life balance with their new job is higher (60%) than the number of women (48%).
Organizations who are able to address these new workforce realities, especially regarding flexibility and number of hours worked, are likely to see fewer employees quitting for jobs that offer better alignment with their personal situations.