november 2021

Pandemic and “Great Resignation”. Temporary phenomenon or new trend?

voluntary resignation from the workplace

From burnout to the quest for a new life, the world of work is undergoing a boom of voluntary resignations.

The phenomenon has risen initially, as usual, in the United States. It has been defined as “Great Resignation” by Anthony Klotz, professor of Management at Mays Business School (Texas). Also known as “Big Quit”, it concerns the voluntary resignation of millions of workers during the pandemic and, especially, after mass vaccination. Therefore, in a historical moment where on the one hand pre-covid normality seems still unattainable, but on the other hand the perspective to revert to some form of “real life” becomes more concrete.

A few data: only in April 2021, 4.000.000 employees have quit their job in the USA. And in a survey taken in June, almost 40% of the white collars interviewed declared to prefer to resign, rather than abandon remote working. A remarkable detail: this trend is real all across the spectrum of jobs, from the less paid to the most prestigious. Although it is a complex phenomenon, the common denominator seems to be a different evaluation of life priorities: more quality, even in spite of career. Among the causes, the lack of dead time due to an agenda where virtual meetings endlessly flow one after another, with the additional stress of working often in multi-device mode simultaneously: meeting, chat, mail and messages, all potentially manageable in real time.


smartworking and burnout


Remote working, then, is the main trigger of this new way of perceiving our own life: with the freedom not to go to the office, but also the difficulty of the always-on mode.

How about Italy? The most recent data, as reported by Francesco Armillei in an article on, confirm a raise in the number of contracts ended by the employee. However, these data refer to a shorter interval than those gathered in the USA: therefore, it is still too early to draw any conclusion. Forced resignations, because of the Covid-19 crisis, could account for this raise. Nevertheless, the possibility of an “epiphany” (in the fortunate choice of words by Armillei) according to which people choose to change their job looking for a more suitable lifestyle cannot be ruled out for Italy as well.


leaving the job for a better life


Answers, then, are still difficult to find - especially for Italy. For sure, it is a very interesting phenomenon not only from the point of view of the job market, but also and especially for a possible radical shift in people’s way of living. A precondition of new consumer behavior which marketers will have to monitor very carefully.