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The Great Resignation Is Coming: Should You Join the Wave or Wait It Out?

the great resignation

In a recent survey from Microsoft, 40 percent of workers said they either wanted to quit their job or change their profession. The pandemic made many workers reconsider what they once thought of as normal. Some don’t want to endure their long commutes anymore and are seeking flexible positions. Others are reconsidering what they want out of work and are looking for more meaningful roles. 

These are not just hypothetical musings, either. In April, the U.S. The Department of Labor noted that four million people quit their jobs in that month alone. 

“In normal times, people quitting jobs in large numbers signals a healthy economy with plentiful jobs. But these are not normal times. The pandemic led to the worst U.S. recession in history, and millions of people are still out of jobs. Yet employers are now complaining about acute labor shortages,” writes Andrea Hsu of NPR

In fact, it is so unusual that this mass exodus even has a name: The Great Resignation. 

Wondering if You Should Be Part of the Great Resignation?

Like so many others, you may be considering quitting your job but aren’t sure if you should take the leap. How do you know if you should be part of The Great Resignation or should wait it out to see if your job situation improves? Here is our advice.

When to stick it out: you aren’t happy about many of your responsibilities but haven’t discussed possible changes with your boss.

Maybe there are some aspects of your job that you don’t like. While it’s true that most employees aren’t floating on cloud nine all the time, you shouldn’t dread most of your daily tasks. It’s a good idea to start out by taking stock of when you’re in a flow state at work versus when you feel like you’re spending too much time on drudgery. 

If you feel like tasks you find dull could be reallocated, talk to your boss. Be reasonable about shifting responsibilities, and asking to spend more time on the projects that energize you. 

If your boss is willing to find a more exciting balance of your daily tasks, you should likely stick it out to determine if these changes make you more satisfied in your position.

When to quit: your boss hasn’t made any changes to your responsibilities, or these changes don’t energize you.

If you ask your boss to make changes to tasks you find dull, and they refuse, it’s a clear sign to start searching for another position. If you’re unhappy with your role and don’t see it changing, then you likely want to look for something else and join the Great Resignation. 

Alternatively, if your boss has altered your responsibilities, and you’re still not happy in your role, you should consider quitting. A supportive boss in an unsatisfying role doesn’t mean you’ll suddenly enjoy your work.

When to stick it out: you’re not financially secure without a job.

Some employees in The Great Resignation quit without having new roles lined up. This is fine for some, but if you don’t have enough savings to quit your job and devote yourself fully to your search, you should stick it out in your job until you have lined up something new. Be sure to consider health insurance costs, as well. 

When to quit: you have enough savings to tide you over while you search for another job.

Monster’s career expert Vicki Salemi says that toxic work environments can sap people of the energy necessary for a focused job search. If this is the case for you – and you can afford to be without a job for a while – she thinks it’s fine to quit your current position and search for a new role. If you are too tired to search for another job after working a full day at your current one, the benefits of quitting may outweigh the costs of a short resume gap. 

When to stick it out: you’re burned out but haven’t taken time off.

Shifting to remote work was a huge stressor. Then, many employees worked without a break during the pandemic since they didn’t have anywhere to go or much to do. If you have worked for a year and a half without a break, you may want to take a vacation before deciding if you want to quit your job. This can give you time to recharge and consider exactly what makes you unhappy in your role.

When to quit: you’re still unenthusiastic about your job even after a break. 

If you return from a vacation and time off, and that same feeling of dread keeps cropping up when thinking about going back to the office, you clearly are not happy in your current role. If you feel recharged and are still disinterested, it’s likely time to be part of the Great Resignation and search for something else. 

When to stick it out: you don’t like some aspects of your job but are still committed to the organizational mission.

It’s a common myth that if we want to be happy, we should love all aspects of our work. This isn’t the case. 

Here’s a more realistic barometer. If you looked at your position, would you feel it was still serving you? Are you still engaged in your work, despite its less-appealing or dull requirements? 

As Ivy Exec says, “[You] may feel bored and overqualified when it comes to running routine tests. But it also means you know and appreciate how those mundane tasks will enable you to build upon what you’ve started. If the end goal still excites you, don’t go jumping ship just yet. If you’re out to find a position where every little report brings you joy, you’re going to become a serial job-hopper.”

When to quit: you aren’t committed to your company or field anymore.

If you don’t feel like your role is fulfilling your personal mission anymore, it’s time to quit. Perhaps you don’t feel you can ever advance at the company. Or maybe you would prefer to work in an organization with more of a social mission. 

Anyone can work through boring responsibilities if they feel that they’re working towards the greater good. But if you don’t perceive your company or your role that way anymore, it’s clearly time to look for something else. 

Should You Join the Great Resignation?

The pandemic disrupted business as usual and made us reconsider if our jobs were truly serving us. Whether you decide to quit your job or stick it out, now is an ideal time to consider what you want from your professional life, as well as what you are – and aren’t – willing to sacrifice to achieve your goals.


Ready for something new? Here’s how to resign without ruining your reputation.


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