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What was the Great Resignation of 2021 and what does it mean for us?

Last year, the Western side of the world experienced one of the bigger and unforeseen effects of the pandemic: The Great Resignation of 2021.

A professor at Texas A&M University and organizational psychologist, Anthony Klotz, coined the term “Great Resignation” to describe the record high of millions of workers leaving their jobs in America.

Klotz believed that the pandemic gave people a lot of time to reflect and have, what he calls, “pandemic epiphanies”. Quarantine and isolation left a lot of people time to think about their work and what this really means to them and their future.

The forced stop/slowing down caused by the start of the pandemic, reminded us that we are not machines. There are many reasons attributed to the Great Resignation, some named are (but are not limited to): lack of health benefits for workers and their dependents, burnout, better job opportunities elsewhere, higher pay, etc.

Other workers chose to quit their jobs rather than be forced back to face-to-face work when they have made it clear that they were hesitant to be exposed to COVID-19 and risk bringing it back to their homes.

Due to pandemic epiphanies, people’s priorities changed, and their desired direction for their lives was made clearer to them. Not only did people leave because of the working conditions they had, but some also left to go into different careers that were more attuned to their interests, passions, and their desired lives. Other people also chose to start their own businesses as well.

Anthony Klotz also made some predictions about the Great Resignation in 2022. Now that people are taking proactive steps towards the career paths that best suit their current needs, this may lead to more fulfilling careers for employees while also urging employers to take better care of their workers.

The Great Resignation served as a symbol of workers’ awakening that they do deserve better treatment in the workplace. The negative view of quitting because you are “lazy” or because you are “giving up” is now being replaced with feelings of hope and empowerment.

“It’s not just about getting another job, or leaving the workforce,” Klotz explains, “it’s about taking control of your work and personal life, and making a big decision – resigning – to accomplish that.”

While this was all going down in the West, there wasn’t really what we could call a Great Resignation here in the Philippines. It’s difficult to compare their situation to ours, especially considering the social and economic aspects of each place.

In a Reddit thread discussing whether the Great Resignation is present in the Philippines, one user sums it all up.

great resignation
via u/Armortec900 | Reddit

Some people don’t have the luxury or reassurance of a safety net to support them if they decide to leave a company, also considering the gap of unemployment between their leaving one job and being hired for another. Our country doesn’t have the necessary support that places like America and Europe do for people to feel that they have enough social insurance to leave a job if they really wanted to.

Many jobs require a special skill set and/or even a college education. In the Philippines the issue may not completely be getting out of a job to pursue another one, the issue for some may be getting a job in the first place.

While not everyone has the privilege of switching careers or leaving the workforce, the existence of the Great Resignation in 2021 pushed companies to refine their working policies and take better care of their employees. Band-aid solutions to employees’ concerns are no longer enough.

Klotz believes that “a silver lining of this horrible pandemic is that the world of work will take a huge positive step forward for workers.” He adds that “work will fit around our personal lives rather than our personal lives fitting around work.”

Let’s hope that Filipino employers are inspired by this push to change for the better, and let’s hope that we see some concrete change here in the Philippines soon.


Other POP! stories you might like:

Why ‘Encanto’ hits a little too close to home for Filipinos

Are Filipino workers always exploited for their labor?

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Gari Custodio

Senior Writer

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POP! Jr Artist - JC Alingalan

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