World Reimagined

The Great Resignation Could See Half the Nation's Workers Changing Jobs

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Credit: Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash

While the pandemic has reset expectations of what work life is like for many people, it could ultimately have an even bigger impact on companies – as a mass exodus is underway by the workforce.

A new survey from Bankrate finds that 55% of Americans expect to search for a new job over the next 12 months. That movement, dubbed by some as The Great Resignation, could realign work forces and dramatically change how businesses operate. Bankrate’s study aligns with a recent Microsoft study of over 31,000 workers in 31 markets that found 41% are thinking about leaving their jobs.

While there’s always a contingent of workers who are restless, Bankrate’s August 2021 Job Seeker Survey finds that 28% of working Americans who say they’re not currently looking for a new job expect to do so within the next year.

“After spending the last year or more stuck in their homes, a good number of American workers now expect to be on the move, searching for new employment,” said Mark Hamrick, Bankrate senior economic analyst and Washington bureau chief. “Pandemic-inspired changes, including the ability to work remotely and/or from home, have transformed mindsets and expectations for many workers.”

More than one-third of the people surveyed said it was “very likely” they would look for a new job before August 2022. The majority of those were young Americans, minorities and people in low-wage positions. While Generation Z and Millennials were the most likely to launch a job hunt, some 45% of Generation X said they planned to look as well.

A separate study from Adobe backs that up. A survey of 3,400 workers in the U.S. and five other countries found that more than half of Gen Z workers (those between the ages of 25 and 39) plan to pursue a new job in the next year. That dissatisfaction could put some businesses in a bind, as they’re already dealing with staffing issues. But experts say it could also be a window to reevaluate some policies and use this as a lever to change certain operating procedures.

“It's time to re-evaluate compensation and work environment,” says Tom Smith, a professor at the Goizueta Business School at Emory University. “If your workforce is hesitant to get back into the office then perhaps it's time to implement a flex schedule. Employees have a lot of choice right now. … Workers are looking for flexibility - and companies that are willing and able to provide that flexibility will have a better path going forward to attract and retain the best employees.”

It’s not just flexibility. The financial strains of the past year are making workers more aware of their compensation. Roughly 72% of the people who earn under $30,000 per year are planning to look for a new job, according to Bankrate. That compares to 44% of those who make $80,000 and more annually.

The number of people quitting their job right now is near a 20-year high, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And it could get worse in the months to come. The Labor Department reports there are roughly 10.1 million job openings these days. Compared that to the 8.7 million people who are currently unemployed.

People who are on the hunt for a new job might rank flexibility and pay as the top two things they’re looking for, but job security is nearly as important. (Time off and a better work culture make the list as well, but at significantly lower levels of importance.)

That security goes both ways, though. Employers are a little gun shy these days, says Smith, and will be looking for new employees that aren’t likely to move along in the near future.

“Companies are getting wise to the fact that employees are open to moving around and are hunting for the next gig. I think this is contributing to the slow hiring process,” he says. “If a candidate is signaling a company that they are just passing through or that this is a stepping-stone job, they are not likely to get a call back. [My] advice to job seekers: Apply for a job you want and signal the company that this job is something you want to keep going forward. Employment is a two-way street -- the employer is looking for commitment from the candidate.”

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

Chris Morris

Chris Morris is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience, more than half of which were spent with some of the Internet’s biggest sites, including, where he was Director of Content Development, and Yahoo! Finance, where he was managing editor. Today, he writes for dozens of national outlets including Digital Trends, Fortune, and

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