The Great Resignation: Part I

The Great Resignation: Part I

The great resignation part 1

Why People Are Saying Goodbye

Hello, my name is Rick Phelps, I am a business coach with ActionCoach business coaching. And in this blog series, we’re going to explore ‘The Great Resignation’ that’s going on in this country right now, that’s probably affecting your business. We’re talking about what might be driving it, and what to do about it. And this is Part One, why so many people are saying goodbye.

How Many People Are Resigning:

  • 48% of American worker population is actively searching, or watching for opportunities to grab a new job. This according to the Gallup polling service. To back that up, in April, we set an all time record for the number of people quitting their jobs here in the United States. And I think the prior record was back in the 70s, if I’m not mistaken. Now, we broke it in April, and then we went on to break it again in May, June, July, August, and we’re still waiting for results for September, which in all probability, also broke the record.
  • There’s some 3% of the workforce quitting every month. That’s staggering.
  • Right. Now, something we know about numbers is that if 48% of the workforce is thinking about leaving, that means in some businesses, there are far more people thinking about leaving. And we’ve read about some of those businesses in the news lately, right? Places having to shut down, can’t find workers. Similarly, there are businesses that are hardly affected by it, far less than half their workforce is thinking about leaving. And what makes the difference? Well, what could be driving this in general?

From a Customer’s Perspective

Let’s look at this. from a customer perspective. Why do customers leave businesses, right? And customers are different than employees, but not so much, right. And if you’re looking at why customers leave businesses that they’ve been doing business with for a long time, well, the data show that 68% of the people who leave a business leave because of perceived indifference, and it dwarfs all the other factors combined.

More than two-thirds of loyal customers leave because of perceived indifference. That’s a lot easier for a customer to pick up and do business with another business than it is for an employee to decide to quit your business and move on to another one. However, perceived indifference may very well be the biggest reason employees are thinking about leaving your business. And what could be driving that perception that you’re different to them?

Productivity vs. Wages

Well, here’s some more numbers, there’s been a profound change since 1980. If you look at the data, productivity, which is the dark line, and employee hourly pay is the light blue line. They used to track from the 50s to 1980. As productivity went up, wages went up, starting in 1980, wages flatlined and then started creeping up, you know, post-recession. And productivity continued its upward climb the whole time.

So there is a significant gap now, between the productivity of the workforce and the pay of the workforce. And that is showing up in the buying power of the middle class. In fact, if you look, the upper class since the upper-income folks, since the 80s, their upper-income bracket has gone from 60% to 79%.

Population or excuse me, share of the money, and middle income has dropped to 17%. So the few at the top are getting a bigger and bigger piece of the pie. And the middle income and the working class are losing out in a big way. And that’s probably a pretty good reason why a lot of workers are looking at the world right now and saying, they really don’t give a crap about me, particularly in the lower wage, so critical workforce, that we’ve depended on, right?

What Groups Are Resigning

The people in the critical jobs during the pandemic, that are at the lowest end of our wage scale – the hospital workers, the restaurant workers, all the people that became critical employees are looking at their wages, and looking at what they’re exposed to and saying, that’s a bunch of crap.

Surprise, surprise, they’re resigning. But it’s not just the low end of the income scale, the low end of wages, that’s looking to leave companies. It’s across the board. And so it’s not just wages, although certainly, they are contributing. If you look at the nursing industry right now, there’s a crisis of nurses, because hospitals, to fill the gaps, are hiring traveling nurses, at multiples of what they’re paying their local nurses. So surprise surprises, nurses are quitting their jobs to take a job as traveling nurses, and doubling tripling quadrupling their income. Why wouldn’t you? It just makes sense. And so wages are a big part of it. But it’s not the only part of it.

Why People Stay and Leave

And there was a study done well, before this crisis of the great resignation hit by Gallup, and these two phenomenal books that every business owner and every manager should have in their library, and not just have in their library but read the dang things, right. First of all, ‘First Break All the Rules’, basically lays out the data and the studies for what makes people want to hang around, what is it about a manager that inspires and motivates the workforce to be not only more productive but hang around? And then that book was followed by ‘It’s the Manager’, which, by the way, answers the question, why are people leaving? It’s the manager, right? If you have crappy managers, and you don’t follow the concepts that are in First Break All the Rules, then your business is going to lose a bigger percentage, not a smaller percentage, of the workforce, because that’s what’s happening right now.

Alright, so in the next several blogs, we’re going to dig into the concepts of what good managers are doing, and what good companies are doing to build a culture that doesn’t result in a perception of indifference, that you don’t care about your workforce. Because if you don’t care about your workforce, they’re not going to care about you or your business, and they’re going to move on. And that’s going to be a big problem for your business. So stay tuned as we, week by week, dig into what to do about the Great Resignation that’s going on right now. Hopefully not in your business.

Alright, my name is Rick Phelps. I am with ActionCoach and I can be reached at My cell phone is 216-533-1387 and the website where you can find this and other blogs is So before all your workforce says goodbye. Start working on improving your managers. And if this blog can help you, I’d be delighted for that outcome. And I’d be delighted to help you! Call! Let’s get into this. Have a safe and profitable week.

Rick Phelps coaches business owners and their leadership teams to create and sustain cultures and systems with the goal of providing spectacular results.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: