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What Are the Key Factors Driving the "Great Resignation"?

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Are you ready to quit?

There's no single catalyst behind the so-called Great Resignation. But, understanding some of the reasons for changes in the labor force can provide insight into the broader changes impacting the employment landscape and how companies are adjusting . In this segment of Backstage Pass, recorded on Nov. 5, Fool contributors Vicki Hutchison and Toby Bordelon dive into some of the most common reasons workers are quitting their jobs right now. 

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Vicki Hutchison: A lot folks had a lot of time on their hands to think about their lives over the last 18 months or so. If their employer just jettisoned them, they're not going to have a lot of reason to go back to that employer, particularly if they don't like that job.

Then we have things like Fiverr and Etsy, and if you happen to be a creative type or you have a skill that you might be able to sell on your own, why do I need an employer when I can be my own employer?

You have a lot more ability to manage your time if you're your own boss. Employers have been in the driver seat since the recession. During the Great Recession, there was a lot of folks that got downsized, there were salary compression and a lot of people never really made it back to the salaries that they made earlier on, and I think we're basically we're just catching up to some of that.

Employees are demanding to get back to a reasonable wage to, as Rachel said, a reasonable set of healthcare and other kinds of benefits. Employers, they were used to getting the perfect resume. If the resume didn't have every term that they were searching for, they didn't even look at it.

Sometimes you don't really want to do exactly the same thing that you've done in the past. A company like Fastly, if you look at the Glassdoor on Fastly, one of the things they haven't done is hire new engineers straight out of school.

They don't have any mentoring program, which means that the senior engineers are still doing the junior engineer work. They're not bringing anybody new and folks aren't getting challenged and folks want that challenge.

I think there's this big combination of feeling needed as well as challenged and properly compensated for all their efforts. I do think people will get back to work, it's just maybe not the way they used to be.

Toby Bordelon: Yeah, I think that's right too. I think are going to get back to work. Does it change, as Vicki said it, not the way we used to. Maybe so, that probably happens too. At our core there, I think people want to work and be productive and useful whether that's for an employer or for your own or for some other way.

That's perhaps shifting. It's less about opting out of work and figuring out how to do something that may be more meaningful to you, or to do it in a way that makes more sense for you. In a year or two from now we'd probably have lower unemployment.

People are working harder than ever, but probably, hopefully with that harder work they're also happier with work, generally speaking. They found something that's a little more satisfying, or a way to work that is a little more satisfying than they were pre-pandemic.

Optimistically, I hope we're also moving to point where work is less about money and more about being a fulfilling part of your life. Knowing of course, that we have to make money to pay the rent and to buy food, of course.

ProShopGuy throws a common here about, he thinks that maybe this question about employment is clouded a little bit by the vaccine mandate. Employer says you go to get vaccinated or we are going to let you go.

How does that feed into it? I don't know. I think that may be a factor and some of these things we talked about it. If you're on the edge and you're deciding, do I want to stay with this employer or not, and then you don't want to get vaccinated or whatever it is, whether it's a vaccination mandate or something else or some new mandate, also it could be requirements to come into the office before you're ready to do that, right.

It can be any additional requirement the employer puts on you. If you're already thinking you might want to leave, well, you're probably not going to do something you don't want to do to keep a job you're not too sure you want to keep. You might feel like, I'm out, and take the time to think and maybe go with something else.

That is feeding into it. I think, you both touched on this a little bit. Employees are less willing to accept some negatives they might have been pre-pandemic. We're seeing some of that too. Definitely, a lot of factors here.

Rachel Warren owns shares of Etsy. Toby Bordelon owns shares of Fastly. Vicki Hutchison owns shares of Etsy, Fastly, and Fiverr International. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Etsy, Fastly, and Fiverr International. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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