Quitting Is Contagious

A poll found that 59% of employees leave their jobs because their coworker resigned first.

January 24, 2022

Quitting Sign

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—When workers leave their jobs, they’re not just resigning because of their pay, benefits and potential to grow, they also take note on how their coworkers feel about the culture of the work environment, reports the New York Times. Quitting becomes a contagion, and one reignition can breed a “hot spot.”

Employee resignation rates were high in August, September and October, but then November ushered in a record number of job resignations—more than 4.5 million people left their jobs voluntarily in November, a record high in two decades of tracking.

The New York Times cited a LinkedIn poll that found that of more than 21,000 LinkedIn members, 59% said a colleague’s departure had led them to consider quitting as well.

For many Americans, the pandemic gave them time to think about their jobs and whether they were satisfied, and “social media became a therapy couch, a space to vent those employment frustrations.” One woman interviewed by the Times said that she got the courage to leave her job after she saw a friend quit hers on Instagram.

For employers, replacing several employees at a time is a challenge and a business disrupter. With quitting rates on the rise, some employers are wondering how to lift morale, while career coaches are concerned about workers being influenced by others’ “roaming lifestyles.”

“When one person announces their resignation, there are usually some questions from their colleagues and workplace friends,” Kathryn Minshew, chief executive of the Muse, told the Times. “‘Where are you going? Why are you leaving?’”

U.S. employers are projected to pay their workers an average of 3.4% more this year. The expected wage increased faster than the actual raises that were paid over the past two years, according to a Willis Towers Watson survey. Raises are expected to be similar across positions, including entry-level to senior-level employees. Still, the annual U.S. inflation rate stood at 7% in December 2021, eroding employee salary increases.

The struggle to find labor has some companies rethinking job qualifications, as well as the types of incentives used to attract employees. Many companies are dropping education requirements and background checks for applicants, including The Body Shop, and CVS no longer requires college graduates to submit their grades, while UPS is offering jobs in as little as 10 minutes to some employees.

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