Economists say the trend is a phenomenon known as "the great resignation" or "the big quit." It's a never-before-seen shift in the workforce that’s leading millions to quit their jobs, leaving employers scrambling to change the way they operate.
“The great resignation is what people are calling a workers revolution," Gia Ganesh, Vice President of People and Culture at Atlanta's Florence Healthcare, said. “Workers are kind of revolting.”
Even as pandemic restrictions eased, a record near four million Americans left their jobs in April.
That's the most since the government started tracking that data 20 years ago.
Georgia has seen the highest rate nationally of people leaving their jobs. According to data released in October, 35,000 Georgians had quit.
Many others are leaving the workforce altogether. 3.6 million Americans retired during the pandemic, more than double the expected 1.5 million.
As VP of People and Culture, Ganesh's job is to make sure their employees are happy, fulfilled, and want to stay.
“Employees are not feeling valued in the workplace," Ganesh said. "The pandemic has shown to us as employers that we can be empathetic towards employees and allow them to deal with life and work, and they will still get jobs done."
She says that’s a shift all companies will have to make to survive.
“People have taken stock of what matters to them in life," she said. "People have realized that time is limited in this world, let's do what matters to us the most. Let's see how we can leave a better impact on the world. Let's see how we can find a job that energizes and fulfills us.”
Even though hundreds of thousands of Georgians have quit their jobs, data shows they are actively looking for new ones.
Timothy Lo is co-founder of Your Next Jump, which helps people rebrand their resumes and land a new gig. He says they've seen an increase in business as people come to them looking for help changing the career trajectory.
“There's something existential behind the great resignation, something that's really changing our worldview," Lo said. "A lot of them are just worn out and fed up."
He says it's not as hard as it may sound to change career fields altogether.
"Let's say you're a teacher and you want to get out of it," Lo said. "Teachers are the best communicators in the world, right? We open up your resume, not by talking about the fact that she's a teacher. You don't even learn about that until halfway down the resume. We put something like instructional leader, communications expertise. It’s 100 percent honest.”
Lo says burnt out teachers are coming to them in record numbers, along with thousands who work in retail, healthcare, and hospitality; All looking for something new. And short staffed companies are eager to snatch them up.
“In Atlanta the demand is huge," he said.
As a worker, it’s a great time to narrow in on your passions and values.
As companies learn that mental health in the workplace is shifting from stigma to center stage.
“This is a trend that's here to stay," Ganesh said. "This is going to be the new normal.”
For employers looking to retain employees, Ganesh offers a few tips.
"The way each of us experience burnout may be very different," she said. "We recently did a burnout survey, we captured input from employees to understand what burnout is looking like for each of us."
She says gathering information about how employees are feeling is important, but implementing changes based on that response is even more so.
"We've been gathering input from employees about what's going well, what's not going well for them and acting on that," she said. "It's one thing to gather feedback. The second thing is to be able to share that back with the company and say 'hey, this is what we heard from you, and this is how we plan to address it.'"
She added that it's also important for employers to offer positive reinforcement and feedback.
"We do a ton of things to make sure employees are valued," she said. "We have daily stand up meetings where we call on employees when they're doing a good job. We have a 'kudos' Slack channel on our internal messaging platforms where we call on people and give them appreciation."
"Also ensuring we are putting programs and activities in place, like rewards and recognition programs, by ensuring onboarding is happening in a certain way, by ensuring managers are being trained to recognize employees and to provide real clarity to employees to provide career growth paths for employees," she said.
If you're looking for a new job, Lo says it's important to cater your resume to the job you're applying for.
"Not necessarily talking about their experience, but what are the skills that they have that [the employer is] looking for?" he said. "We want to give the employer what they want to hear. Look at things holistically."
He says if you're looking to get into a new industry altogether, you don't necessarily need a whole new college degree.
"Let's say you're doing a non-tech role, but you want to get Agile certified," he said. "You can do that. What we recommend people do is something that you want to go into, get a certification. It makes it makes your case more reasonable, and then how you market yourself."