Shifting from the great resignation to the great regret
25 October 2022

Shifting From The Great Resignation to “The Great Regret”

3 min read

The phrase “The Great Resignation” has become a widely discussed topic, and a challenge that many HR and procurement managers have had to deal with over the last couple of years as the balance of power shifted massively in favor of workers. 

The Great Resignation, sometimes known as The Great Reshuffle, saw job openings surge to an all-time high as huge numbers of US workers voluntarily quit their jobs for new opportunities. In fact, it’s estimated that roughly 47 million US workers quit their jobs in 2021 alone, the highest rate ever recorded. 

These workers left their jobs in search of higher wages, better benefits and more flexible work options. Yet the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. In fact, a large chunk of workers who left their previous jobs are now feeling regret at quitting. 

That’s according to the new Q2 2022 United States Job Market Report from Joblist, which found one in four workers who quit their previous job say they regret the decision. 

In this blog we will take a look at what The Great Regret means, what the future holds for the labor market and what businesses can expect to see from the contingent workforce over the next couple of years.

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What is happening right now with The Great Regret?

The survey from Jobslist found that workers who regret the decision to leave their previous job cited a variety of reasons for their second thoughts, including: 

  • quitting without having a new job lined up (40 percent);
  • missing their old work colleagues (22 percent); 
  • disappointment with their new job (17 percent); 
  • and the realization that their old job wasn’t as bad as they thought it was (16 percent).

Other reasons included bad culture or management at the new job (9 percent) and that the higher pay at the new job wasn’t worth it (3 percent).

Of those who quit their job, 42 percent say that their new job hasn’t lived up to their expectations but that returning to their old job is not really an option for them. When asked about a possible return to their old employer, 59 percent ruled out the option, 24 percent were open to the idea and 17 percent said yes.

Is a “Great Termination” around the corner?

The economy and job market made a remarkable recovery from the initial deep dive in the spring of 2020 caused by the pandemic. 

However, high inflation, Federal Reserve interest rate hikes and a volatile stock market are leading to speculation that a recession is around the corner. In fact, 80 percent of respondents to the Joblist survey expect the US to enter a recession in the next year. 

Most job seekers have a high level of concern, with two out of three job seekers reporting that they are “worried” or “very worried” about a potential recession. Meanwhile, only 7 percent of job seekers say that they are not worried at all.

According to the survey: 

  • nearly half (49 percent) of job seekers now believe the job market will get worse in the next six months; 
  • another one-third of job seekers think the job market will remain about the same;
  • and only 19 percent expect the job market to improve.

Job seekers are largely pessimistic about the rest of 2022. As a result, most job seekers (60 percent) report feeling more urgency to find a job now before job market conditions change.

There is speculation among those in the labor market that fear of a recession will move the current jobs market on from The Great Regret and to a “Great Termination” - where businesses start to let go of employees in anticipation of a recession. 

In this case, it’s likely that the employees who quit their previous job for new opportunities during the pandemic will be the first to be let go. Many organizations will be looking at implementing last in, first out procedures. 

Could we see a period of increased contingent work? 

The contingent workforce boomed after the 2008 global financial crisis, when organizations realized they could dramatically improve how agile they were through the use of flexible workers and access to talent on an as-needed basis. 

As we potentially move towards tougher economic times, it’s likely that the most successful businesses will be the ones which implement robust contingent workforce management programs that help them better acquire talent, save money and improve their overall business flexibility. 

Interested in how you can better achieve that? Book a meeting with our team of contingent workforce management specialists today

Ready to learn more? Contact us today!

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