Maintaining Seeking

The “Big Quit” or “The Great Resignation”

Whatever you want to call it, people are leaving their jobs on a mass scale, in the hope of finding a better, happier, more balanced way to live…

According to the US Department of Labor, 4.3 million Americans voluntarily quit their jobs, in August 2021; the highest number ever recorded. Furthermore, approximately 4 million people have been leaving their jobs per month, in America, since the Spring of last year.

This mass exodus of workers has become known as “The Big Quit” or “The Great Resignation” – and it is revolutionizing the labor market in ways never witnessed before.

So why are so many people suddenly quitting their jobs?

Nothing distills our priorities quite like a survival situation. It’s not unusual after a “life-changing event” for people to make dramatic changes, like moving to the country or starting an entirely new career; so they can enjoy more of what really matters to them. And the pandemic has been both of these things, a survival situation, and a life-changing event, for all of us. It has highlighted all of the “unnecessary” things that we used to do pre-pandemic, it has brought into focus just how precious our time, health and families really are.

People have lost loved ones and witnessed others losing loved ones, many people have passed away far before “their time” when they still had lots of good years of work and life still left. And the pandemic has acted as a catalyst to push people closer to careers more in line with their authentic selves, talents, and passions.

Now that we have all been so bluntly reminded of just how precious and fragile our one and only life is – who wants to “waste” it sitting behind a desk in a dusty office for 40 hours a week, on low pay?

Many people who found themselves in careers far from their initial qualifications have felt that they can no longer just work to survive while papering over their true needs for job satisfaction and a decent wage. For example, executives with a Master’s degree in Art who might have ended up in sales, can no longer force themselves to deny that this is not what they really want to do with their life. After all that we’ve witnessed, the life and freedoms that have been lost, silencing the passion within ourselves to create and explore as part of how we make a living, seems less possible after the pandemic.

So you see, it’s not just quitting “for the sake of quitting”; as Gregory Daco, the Chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics said “…it’s quitting to find better employment”.

Although at first glance, 4 million people leaving their jobs per month seems quite negative, but it actually has quite a positive outcome. With so many leaving jobs, it’s created a spike in available positions (11 million job openings were recorded in October 2021). This has resulted in job seekers having more power and better prospects than they’ve had in years. This is mainly because unemployment has been falling at the same time as this steep rise in vacant positions, leading to many companies complaining that they can’t find workers. This has pushed wages higher, especially in traditionally lower-paid sectors. Therefore, employees in America at the moment, have more bargaining power than potentially, ever before.

So instead of being a negative, this is actually a great time for anyone wishing to change jobs, especially in 2022. There are more options, choices and power on the employee’s side than anyone can remember. Think of how to leverage it to create a better, more fulfilling work-life balance.

-Catherine Smith

Photo by Luis Villasmil on Unsplash


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Catherine is a writer and coach based in Belfast, Northern Ireland and was the Director's Assistant on Game of Thrones (GOT). After working with the writers and director's on GOT, and being included in an Emmy award, Catherine was inspired to embark on her own writing career; she is passionate about all things related to personal development, mindful living, and dance. You can follow some of her work at or contact her on Facebook.

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