The Hidden Quit: The Burnout Plaguing America’s Workforce


In addition to the great quitting brought about by the pandemic, there is the hidden quitting: the millions of workers left behind who are burnt out and disillusioned with their work.

Job resignations and burnout

Millions of Americans have quit their jobs over the past year, but rather than fill the millions of openings that have been created as the economy recovers from COVID-19, many are left on the sidelines.

Surveys have shown that Americans work longer hours than their European and Japanese counterparts, with the United States ranking as the 10th hardest-working country in the world behind Mexico, Poland and Israel, according to World Population Review.

Last November, U.S. employers hired 6.7 million people, but a record 4.5 million quit, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. Some 6.3 million people were unemployed in December, the BLS said. Since the start of the pandemic in February 2020, the number of inactive people has increased by 717,000, the BLS said.

Indeed, Hiring Lab research director Nick Bunker said The Associated Press (January 4), a large percentage of those quits were in the low-wage hotel and restaurant industries.

But low-paying jobs are not the only victims. Experts have told The Food Institute that the highest paid workers quit or turn down promotions because they are simply burnt out and looking for a better work-life balance. Many people have found that when forced to work from home due to pandemic shutdowns, it becomes more difficult to complete the workday.

A Gallup poll released last month indicated that women are even more burnt out than men, and estimates of the number of women who have dropped out of the labor force range from 300,000 to 1.8 million.

Business Intern cited (January 17) the case of a middle manager at a Fortune 1000 company who turned down a promotion despite a major $300,000 salary increase because it would have required more travel and taken time away from his family.

“Most of us were raised to work hard and focus on our careers at the expense of everything else,” said Christina Russo, Creative Director of Kitchen Community. “[But] people quit jobs that make them miserable or turn down promotions that might pay more but require longer hours because they just want to be happy in all aspects of their lives.

Labor Market Outlook

Lawyer and human resources consultant Bryan Driscoll said the whole attitude towards work has changed.

“Workers are quitting in what many older generations might see as foolish or career-damaging moves. But the world those older generations lived in … doesn’t exist and doesn’t work for people today,” Driscoll said in an email.

He said companies have played a major role in causing burnout, pushing employees to do more and more with less and less.

“In one way or another, the pandemic has loosened the shackles of people who have been enslaved to their workplace – often for the safety or hope it provides,” said Ian Sells, CEO and founder of RebateKey. He said the pandemic showed workers how little control they actually had over their lives and underscored “how short life is and how easily a person can lose the things they thought were permanent”.

Beth Schubert, content and press director for Own the Grill, said the pandemic has shown workers how exhausted they are.

“We work hard, but the hours we put in mean we have little time to do anything else, and it’s hard to be ambitious and try to find a way to move up the next rung on the career ladder. when you’re too fried to turn on a computer when you get home,” Schubert said. “We’re still ambitious, but we just need the carousel of modern life to slow down for a little while so we can figure out how to channel our collective ambition to do the things we want and need to do with our lives. .”

So how can employers keep people coming back?

Lena Suarez-Angelino, a licensed clinical social worker and empowerment coach, said employers need to have open and honest conversations with their employees.

“Ask them what they want to prevent burnout while increasing morale and maintaining employee retention. Chances are bonuses aren’t the only reason people stay at work,” she advised.

Archie Payne, CEO of Caltek Staffing, said employers need to pay more attention to the mental well-being of their employees and help them reassess their priorities.

“One of my top priorities is to make sure that every employee’s workload is manageable and that no one works long hours unless they absolutely have to,” Payne said. “I’ve seen companies encourage their employees to take time off [and] only work during business hours, and they clearly advocate the benefits of taking a break and getting away from their screens. Work-life balance is essential and must be recognized by management.


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