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'The Great Resignation': Why millions of Americans have quit their jobs

Expert weighs in on how to tackle burnout, rekindle passion and reskill for new work

 

Last updated 10/15/2021 at 6:51pm



Pinkston News Service

WASHINGTON – In what many are calling “The Great Resignation,” millions of U.S. workers across multiple industries have quit their jobs since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent survey found that 15% of the U.S. workforce are still planning to quit their jobs before 2022. Stress and burnout are major factors, which have hit the nursing and teaching professions particularly hard.

On the flip side, for employees eager to find new jobs, the pandemic has also offered an opportunity to reevaluate their work and life priorities. Forty-one percent of workers say that finding a job they’re more passionate about is a major factor in their decision to look elsewhere for work.

Reporting on the issue has also revealed that many Americans are fed up with stressful working conditions, long hours and low pay. Simply put, Americans are burnt out, and ready for a change. Teachers and healthcare workers, particularly nurses, are especially overwhelmed by the demands of working during the pandemic, and are experiencing burnout at an unprecedented rate.

For years, teaching and nursing have ranked as the most stressful occupations, according to Gallup polling. The pandemic only seems to have made things worse. More than 3 in 4 teachers reported experiencing frequent work-related stress in the last year, compared to just 40% of adults in other professions. Meanwhile, over half of healthcare workers today report feeling burnout.

The full implications of this year’s Great Resignation are far from clear. But while many might be pessimistic, some industry leaders are viewing the Great Resignation as an opportunity – both for American workers and for the businesses who employ them.

Dhaval Patel, senior vice president at Interfirst (https://joininterfirst.com/), a Chicago-based mortgage company, has designed a part of his hiring strategy around reaching burnt out teachers and nurses in need of a change. “A lot of healthcare workers and teachers are facing a difficult situation: stay in a system that’s poorly funded, understaffed and emotionally grueling, or switch careers after investing years in their education,” says Patel. “But many are switching nonetheless.”

The main reason they’re switching careers? Other jobs provide a less stressful and more professional environment, and can even better value the skills teachers and nurses have acquired in their careers. “Nurses and teachers are highly educated; they have tons of soft, transferable skills that can be used anywhere,” says Patel. “There’s no reason for people with these skills to feel underpaid and undervalued, and other employers recognize the value they’re getting.”

In this ever-changing COVID environment, many find that the rewards of reskilling – or even just transferring existing skills – can be enormous. A lot of jobs, particularly teaching and nursing jobs, pay relatively low wages. That can contribute to stress, and negatively impact job satisfaction.

With more and more American workers quitting their jobs and switching industries, now is an opportune time for many to make a change. “Burnout isn’t inevitable,” says Patel. “In the COVID environment, no one should feel stuck – almost anything is possible."

 

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