How The Great Resignation Changes The Future Of Remote Work

Wondering how the Great Resignation is affecting the future of remote work?

During 2021, this stretch of mass exits in the labor force stressed teams already stretched to their limits by Covid-19. Everyone thought this unprecedented exodus would wane as the pandemic got easier to manage.

Unfortunately, the results of PwC’s Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey may dampen that dream. 

The firm polled over 52,000 workers in 44 countries and territories in March 2022. They learned that one in five workers globally is planning to quit this year [*].

Another survey revealed that 35% of respondents wouldn’t consider a new job unless it gave them the option to work remotely [*]. And a staggering 76% said they’d even apply to a role outside their current industry if it were completely remote.

So should we think about the Great Resignation more like a workplace reshuffling? 

We’ll explore how the Great Resignation started and what’s motivating employees to find new remote jobs. Then we’ll segue into how organizations can attract stellar candidates and retain remote talent in 2022.

Seeking a remote job? You’ll also find tips to leverage this intel to make your next career move a well-deserved upgrade.

So let’s start with the basics:

What is the Great Resignation? Is the Great Resignation Still Happening?

The Great Resignation is a term coined by organizational psychologist Anthony Klotz. A management professor at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School, Klotz believed the pandemic would break the dam on pent-up resignations [*]. 

And he was right.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 47.8 million Americans voluntarily quit their jobs in 2021 [*]. Worker shortages are still plaguing every industry in 2022.

And this isn’t just a problem in the states. Resignations and openness to looking for a new job have jumped every quarter this year in the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Japan, and France [*].

So Why is the Great Resignation Happening?

Experts from the Harvard Business Review are convinced the Great Resignation didn’t start with Covid-19 [*]. They believe the pandemic only exacerbated pre-existing conditions in the labor market that would have eventually surfaced, like:

The Baby Boomer Retirement Spike

The Baby Boomer Generation includes people who were born between 1946 and 1964. They currently make up an estimated 76 million Americans between the ages of 58 and 76. 

Many boomers didn’t feel comfortable returning to work during Covid. Others were deeply affected by recent illnesses, quarantines, and deaths, and started reprioritizing time with family over work. So many chose to retire early. 

As a result, the retired population has expanded beyond its usual trend by an additional 1.1 million people [*]. So the Great Resignation could just as easily be dubbed the Great Retirement [*].

US Census Bureau data shows all boomers will be at least 65 (average retirement age) by 2030, which is only a few years away [*][*]. So organizations must have a plan for replacing these employees on the verge of retirement soon. 

Many companies are finding it faster to hire remote employees to step in, especially digital natives in the millennial and Gen Z generations.

Fun fact: A new CNBC survey showed 68% of workers who retired during the pandemic would now consider returning. And a whopping 94% of those who left the workforce but never technically retired would do the same [*]. Adding a seasoned veteran to your remote team could boost diversity.

Reshuffling, i.e., The Great Upgrade

Reshuffling is when employees make localized switches in their industry or between sectors rather than leaving the labor market entirely. PwC’s survey revealed that pay is the main reason 71% of workers want to change jobs [*].

And they’re not wrong.

Research shows employees who quit during the Great Resignation are now employed elsewhere with higher salaries [*][*]:

  • 29% say their compensation has increased by more than 30% in their new role
  • 20% received a 10% to 20% increase in pay          
These employees also scored better work-life balances, more opportunities for advancement, and higher schedule flexibility, which are all major worker wins. 🙌

So that’s why Bharat Ramamurti, the deputy director of the National Economic Council, recently coined the phrase the Great Upgrade [*]. It’s never been a better time for workers to look for a remote job that checks everything on their wishlist.

Reluctance To Return To The Office

2020 was the year the world learned how to work remotely.

Pandemic-related fears may have kept many employees leery of returning to office life. But now, the joy of remote work makes them eager to continue working from home.

As we saw in our last State of Remote Work Report, 87% of respondents in one survey no longer want to work in an office full-time [*]. And 45% said they’d be “happy to never step foot in an office again.”

Over 71% of those surveyed employees would even be willing to give up promotions and raises to continue working remotely!

Image Source: Vox

Once employees experienced the differences between working from home and the office, there was almost no going back.

Now, if the option of hybrid or remote work is off the table, 36% of employees say they’ll look for new opportunities. And 10% would outright quit their job without a plan or new position lined up [*].

So, a combination of workplace and labor market factors led to the Great Resignation. 

Retirements aside, organizations can control factors like where their employees can work and what a competitive employee benefits package looks like. But if you fail to adapt, your team will continue to look for greener pastures.

This goal — to beat high turnover rates and keep top talent happy — is driving real change in the remote work landscape.

How is the Great Resignation Affecting the Future of Remote Work?

As Klotz told CNBC:

We’re entering into a period of time in which much of the resignation activity we’re seeing is comprised of employees moving toward companies that have made this shift, that have embraced the future of work rather than resisted it [*].”

The future of work is remote. And that picture post-Great Resignation includes:

More Hybrid and Fully Remote Jobs

Klotz believes the traditional work environment is dead. He says remote and hybrid work options “give us more flexibility and control over our lives, and more autonomy and freedom in how we structure our lives.” This helps employees be just as productive as their in-office counterparts, if not more so.

That’s why estimates show that 25% of all jobs will be remote by the end of 2022 [*].

We know people are looking for remote jobs based on spikes in recent internet searches. Forbes analysts noticed searches for [*]:

  • “work when you want remote jobs” jumped 556%
  • “what remote jobs are in demand” surged 357% 
  • “remote positions” climbed 85%
  • “remote part-time jobs” increased 105%

We also know that 62% of people actually prefer a mix of in-person and remote work [*]. So maybe this isn’t a one-work environment-fits-all approach.

If you really want to get applicants to apply for a job with your organization, give employees the flexibility to work where they’re most productive. Start adding remote or hybrid team members if you’re not a fully-remote company yet. 

More Attractive, Competitive Employee Benefits and Compensation Plans

When employers in industries with the highest quit rates sharply raised wages and improved their employee benefits packages, their hiring rates exceeded their quit rates [*].

So organizations must take the time to get to know their team’s needs, craft better-than-fair market compensation plans, and offer the best company benefits.

💡Don’t forget to update your WWR company profile with details about your employee benefits and company culture. You’ll stand out as a remote company and attract outstanding candidates!

This also means remote workers should seize the opportunity to look for a higher-paying job. As organizations compete for top talent, you’re in a prime position to ask for what you’re worth (and get it!).

More Upskilling and Employee Investments

Meaning and job fulfillment in the workplace was the second most important factor when considering changing jobs in PwC’s survey [*]. So companies that invest in their employees’ well-being and long-term career goals will really make out ahead in 2022 and beyond.

Image Source: WeForum

We know workers with specialized training and skills are in super high demand. But rather than outsourcing for this talent, over 40% of companies are upskilling and reskilling their current employees [*].

Research shows if you help your employees thrive in their careers, they’ll do the same in your organization. These empowered teams are more engaged with their work, have greater job satisfaction and loyalty, and are 45% more likely to recommend their employer to others [*]. 

So competitive organizations are investing in their employees with perks like:
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Discounts for online courses, webinars, books, etc.
  • Opportunities for on-the-job training
  • Wellness packages to support mental health

Lots of companies are also adopting dual career ladder systems, where employees can score upward mobility without being placed in a supervisory or managerial position.

These ideas may keep your brightest minds from looking for opportunities elsewhere. They also give remote job seekers the chance to land a remote role with no experience and grow with a company willing to invest in them.

More Requests for Employee Feedback

Survey takers who said their managers don’t listen to them and their team doesn’t care about them were extremely or very likely to look for another job [*]. On the other hand, employees are more likely to remain in a workplace where they feel seen, heard, and valued. 

Nothing makes an employee feel appreciated more than being listened to [*]. So organizations are going full-force on gathering employee sentiments. They’re asking leaders to schedule regular one-on-one check-ins and sending out more frequent anonymous, company-wide surveys. 

Soliciting feedback allows leaders to gather intel and employee data from every level of the company. Leaders can then develop prioritized action plans based on these recommendations or concerns.

The more you understand what your employees want, the easier it will be to exceed their expectations and retain your top talent. Transparent feedback loops also tell job candidates that their voices and opinions will be heard, which should be a boon for your recruiting metrics.

The Great Resignation is Affecting the Future of Remote Work in the Best Ways

While the Great Resignation put additional pressure on teams, the outcomes are pushing the future of remote work to new heights.

Employees would rather work remotely or have a hybrid option now, opening the door for tons of new remote roles to hit the job boards. They’re also seeking a better work-life balance, fair compensation, and companies that value their contributions. 

Organizations that deliver on all those fronts will remain competitive, prevent costly turnover, and thrive. 

If you’re ready to hire the best remote workers for your team, post your job on We Work Remotely now! You’ll reach the largest remote community and find your ideal candidate sooner.

Looking for a remote job? We Work Remotely is the #1 remote job board to find incredible roles. You can even check each company’s profile to see whether their company culture and employee benefits are right for you.

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