Stressed worker sitting at desk with his head in his hands as light streams in from the window behind him illuminating his workstation.
Image: © Panya Studio/

How can we ensure ‘the great resignation’ won’t come to Ireland?

6 Aug 2021

Millions of US workers have quit their jobs recently in a phenomenon that has been dubbed ‘the great resignation’. Can we prevent it coming to Ireland?

Millions of US workers are resigning from their jobs in droves in a phenomenon that’s being referred to as ‘the great resignation’.

The pandemic has provided much-needed space for many workers to evaluate their life choices, and what people want from their careers is unsurprisingly a major part of this reckoning. Numerous studies – as well as feedback from workers themselves – suggest that this phenomenon is not going to disappear.

According to the US Department of Labor, 3.6m people quit their jobs in May, down from 4m in April. And research by Microsoft indicates that 40pc of people around the world are considering leaving their employers this year.

Jobseeker resource ResumeLab conducted a study of US workers in a bid to determine what is causing this mass career crisis, and the results are an interesting read for Irish companies looking to avoid what’s happening to their counterparts abroad.

ResumeLab asked 1,038 US workers questions pertaining to their jobs and how they felt about their working lives.

Infographic by ResumeLab showing level of job satisfaction among American workers.

Infographic: ResumeLab

While the majority of respondents (86pc) said they liked their jobs, a whopping 59pc said they were thinking of changing jobs.

Ireland does not fare too well either when it comes to job satisfaction – a 2020 study by professional services firm Aon found that 63pc of Irish workers felt disengaged by their work, while one in three mid-career workers said they planned on changing career in the next year.

At 34pc, Irish people’s job satisfaction lags far behind the EU average of 60pc. Older generations are more likely to be happier at work, with things getting less positive for younger Irish people.

Aon’s age-related findings correspond somewhat with ResumeLab’s survey, which found that 77pc of Gen Z workers felt jealous and insecure at work compared to just 59pc of people in the aged-55-and-over cohort.

As for the reasons behind the career crisis, 37pc said they were concerned about job insecurity, while nearly a third cited personal conflicts at work and 30pc said they were bored at work.

No development options, low pay and poor working conditions also factored into dissatisfaction rates.

There are some positive lessons to be learned from the fallout of the great resignation, and hopefully these will be given consideration by workplaces before the phenomenon hits Ireland.

And, as ResumeLab’s findings suggest, career crises can be par for the course in many workers’ lives, with 69pc of people admitting to having had a major career crisis at least once and 61pc saying they felt they had missed their professional calling.

Infographic by ResumeLab showing reasons for job dissatisfaction.

Infographic: ResumeLab


Infographic by ResumeLab showing statistics on US workers and their working lives.

Infographic: ResumeLab.

Good leadership and talking a problem through can help people going through crises in their careers, according to respondents. Nearly three-quarters (73pc) believe a good manager can help employees avoid or lessen the severity of a career crisis.

From that, it’s clear that leadership, communication and mutual understanding are key to ensuring that employees and employers can maintain a good working relationship through the rest of the pandemic and beyond.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea worked as a Careers reporter until 2024, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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