What the Heck? “Great Resignation, Great Reshuffle, Quiet Resignation, Boomer UNRetirement!”


Lately, many articles are describing these scenarios.  Which one are you experiencing, or are you involved in all of them?  Let me give you the definitions; maybe you are a hybrid of them.

The Great Resignation – The Great Resignation, also known as the Big Quit, is “an ongoing economic trend in which employees have voluntarily resigned from their jobs in mass, beginning in early 2021 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic” (BLS, 2022). Many people changed jobs; comparatively, few quit permanently. In the future, we will likely see employees leave prematurely from the workplace. During the Great Resignation, employees started thinking about their careers, salaries, and how they were treated at work. According to a Pew Research Center survey (2022), the lack of advancement opportunities, low pay, and feeling disrespected were the top reasons Americans quit their jobs in 2021.

Furthermore, the Great Resignation was fueled by the high number of position vacancies and low unemployment rate.  Thie voluntary quitting continues in 2022, primarily because employees are looking for the following:

  • Hybrid work
  • Environment/Culture
  • Health and Wellbeing, including childcare–
  • Transportation–
  • Strong management
  • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access–
  • Trust in the Organization
  • Meaningful Work and Growth Opportunities
  • Connection with other employees in my age range(Sanchez, 2021)

The Great Reshuffle – The Great Reshuffle started with the Great Resignation and morphed into the Great Reshuffle.  This means that employees are leaving their current position to find positions with greater flexibility.  The bottom line is that your current employees will leave if they feel their new employer will provide more of the list above.  This trend will continue into next year if the unemployment rates continue to be low. 

Currently, there are record numbers of open positions.  The areas that are hurting in finding employees are hospitality and healthcare.  Today there is no loyalty to a company unless they provide the above list, according to studies (Gallup 2022).  If your company does not offer the above, you will have a higher turnover and continue to spend financial resources to train employees, only to have them leave.  This is a tremendous cost to your organization.

Quiet Quitting – Years ago, as Human Resources professionals, we strived for companies to attain Employee Engagement.  This meant that employees would engage in the concept that describes workers’ enthusiasm and dedication to their job. Engaged employees care about their work and the company’s performance and think their efforts make a difference. An engaged employee is in it for more than a paycheck and may consider their well-being linked to their performance and thus instrumental to their company’s success (Gallup 2010). Employee engagement affects every critical aspect of your organization, including profitability, revenue, customer experience, employee turnover, and more. Research shows that 92% of business executives believed that engaged employees perform better, boosting the success of their teams and the outcomes of their organizations. A 2021 survey from Gallup found that only 36% of people reported being engaged with their job.

Quiet quitting is the opposite of employee engagement.  The trend of employees choosing not to go above and beyond their job requirements, including refusing to answer emails during evenings or weekends, or skipping extra assignments that fall outside their core duties, is catching on, especially among Gen Zers. Employees no longer want to go above and beyond for the company because they see no value in doing so.  Companies have seen a reduction in production and profitability (Gallup 2022).  This means they will not volunteer for extra assignments, opt out of tasks beyond their duties, or not get involved in anything else but what is required of their job.  Strictly 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and NO MORE. (Randstad 2022)

Quiet quitting doesn’t mean an employee has left their job but has limited their tasks to those strictly within their job description to avoid working long hours. They want to do the bare minimum to get the job done and set clear boundaries to improve work-life balance. These employees are still fulfilling their job duties but not subscribing to the ‘work is life’ culture to guide their careers and stand out to their superiors. They stick to what is in their job description, and when they go home, they leave work behind them and focus on non-work duties and activities (Randstad, 2022).

Signs of quiet quitting can take on various forms, depending on the employee’s reasons for wanting to pull back on work. If an employee is depressed, the signs may be much more noticeable than someone with the simple goal of wanting a better work-life balance.

Some signs of quiet quitting include the following:

  • not attending meetings
  • arriving late or leaving early
  • reduction in productivity
  • less contribution to team projects
  • not participating in planning or meetings
  • lack of passion or enthusiasm (Gallup, 2022)

Boomer Unretirement – As life spans continue to extend, according to the Stanford Center on Longevity, the reality is that many Americans aren’t financially prepared for these additional years. And among those who’ve attempted retirement, many have returned to work. Technically, more like an “unretirement.” A RAND Corporation study revealed results from a 2015 survey that nearly 40% of workers over 65 had previously retired and then “boomeranged” back to work.

With that in mind, for Baby Boomers looking to extend their career, reboot, or pivot, Farrell suggests “shifting from a mindset of being inextricably linked to your job title instead of focusing on your skill set. Jobs often connect us to an identity of who we are, especially if you lose your job career in life; separating yourself from your job title is critical. Essentially, your identity is based on your skill set”.

In his book “Unretirement: How Baby Boomers Are Changing the Way We Think About Work, Community, and the Good Life,” Chris Farrell argues that Boomers are boomerang employees and pivot to other careers.   Mass retirement of Boomers has lost its zeal.  Boomers are looking for new opportunities to get reinvolved in the workforce.  This might be an excellent opportunity for organizations to re-engage with this new workforce and a new source of employees!

Farrell, C. (2022) Unretirement: How Baby Boomers Are Changing the Way We Think About Work, Community, and the Good Life
Gallup Survey (2022). Employee priorities.
Gallup Survey (2021).  U.S. Employee Engagement Data Hold Steady in First Half of 2021
Harvard Business Review (2021).  A Winning Approach to Employee Success
Pew Center Survey (2022).  The Big Quit!
Rand Corporation Study (2015).  Working conditions in the United States
Sanchez, D. (2021). https://www.dashrconsulting.com/do-your-employees-love-their-jobs/
Standford of Longevity (2018).  Americans are not financially prepared for living longer lives; Stanford study finds