A rational approach to the “Great Resignation”

waitress in restaurant

People often evaluate situations through their own biases. We all face this challenge, though we can dive deeper into that another time.

You’ve certainly heard about “The Great Resignation.” Employers have had a very difficult time finding employees, particularly in service jobs such as the restaurant industry.

You’ve also probably heard people saying “nobody wants to work anymore.” Put aside for a moment the fact that this has been said for years by each generation. The reality of the situation is more complex, and for many, their biases are affecting how they view this problem.

We all need to come to terms with the reality that the pandemic was a traumatizing experience for many people. For others, it was deeply unsettling. It’s not surprising that many people altered their outlook on their lives, and naturally this spilled over into society and our culture.

With that in mind, we should all give more thought to how attitudes toward work have been affected, and with better understanding we can address the issue in more thoughtful and effective ways.

The “Great Resignation” is a term used to describe a significant and widespread increase in employee resignations, job changes, and voluntary departures from the workforce starting around 2021. This phenomenon was characterized by a noticeable shift in employees’ priorities, values, and expectations from their careers and employers. Several factors contributed to the Great Resignation, including:

COVID-19 pandemic

The pandemic disrupted the job market, leading to layoffs, furloughs, and increased job insecurity. As a result, many people began reevaluating their work-life balance, job satisfaction, and career paths.

Remote work

The pandemic forced many businesses to shift to remote work, leading to increased flexibility and autonomy for employees. This change made some workers unwilling to return to traditional office environments and sparked a desire for more flexible work arrangements. Some people loved working from home and also felt they could be more productive.

Mental health and well-being

The pandemic’s emotional toll led many individuals to prioritize their mental health and well-being, leading them to reconsider the impact of their jobs on their overall happiness and satisfaction. Did they really want to return to their lame, low-paying job?


As the pandemic continued, many employees experienced burnout due to increased workloads, long hours, and the blurring of work-life boundaries. This burnout contributed to the desire for career changes or exits from the workforce altogether.

Skills and career development

Many people took advantage of the downtime during the pandemic to upskill, reskill, or pursue new career paths, which led to increased job mobility and career transitions.

What now?

Of course, some people loved going back to work and ending the isolation of the pandemic. But that certainly didn’t apply to everyone.

The Great Resignation has had significant implications for employers, leading to labor shortages in some sectors and forcing businesses to reevaluate their employee retention and recruitment strategies. We’ve all experienced the service issues in restaurants.

Employers have been increasingly focusing on offering better wages, competitive benefits, flexible work arrangements, and improved work-life balance to attract and retain talent in response to the changing workforce landscape.

This trend may start to reverse itself at some point, but if you’re an employer, you should do your best to understand why many employees decided to stop working, and take a hard look at what life is like for those employees at your company.


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