A number of recent columns have charged that the “Great Resignation” is being misinterpreted.

The Economist, for one, attributed the high number of people quitting jobs, most evident in the U.S. and U.K., largely to greater availability of job openings that are giving workers confidence to try something more promising.

A true “great resignation,” the column goes on, would require radical cultural changes. The Economist wrote, “Households would need to decide, en masse, that their future consumption needs, and the income needed to fulfil them, were substantially lower. That would mean no more foreign holidays, less dining out and fewer household appliances. It would also mean fewer Christmas presents. Anyone who visited a Black Friday sale this year, in Seattle or elsewhere, would be quickly disabused of the notion that such a dramatic shift was on the cards.”

Writing for The Atlantic, Derek Thompson, a staff writer and author of the Work in Progress newsletter, stated, “To put it as concisely as possible: The Great Resignation is mostly a dynamic ‘free agency’ period for low-income workers switching jobs to make more money, plus a moderate surge of early retirements in a pandemic.”

Bryan Lufkin, a BBC News features writer, warns about the risks of sweeping generalizations about the causes. He writes, “Because the factors driving resignations are so different, if changes do come, they’ll likely look different depending on the sector and the types of jobs. Some companies might cater more towards white-collar workers’ demands for continued pandemic-era flexibility, like remote work; other companies in service sectors might respond with long-overdue improvements to conditions or higher wages.”

The inspirational, widely-cited theory is that many workers are reassessing priorities after undergoing a pandemic-driven epiphany.

“This [pandemic] has been going on for so long, it’s affecting people mentally, physically,” Danny Nelms, president of the Work Institute, told The Wall Street Journal. “All those things are continuing to make people be reflective of their life and career and their jobs. Add to that over 10 million openings, and if I want to go do something different it’s not terribly hard to do.”


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