4.3 million people just quit their jobs

It’s another great fall Friday, and time for another great comment thread. Your comments have been so interesting; I really look forward to them.

And so today, I’d like to talk about the Great Resignation, and how to stop it.

Well, maybe some of it.

First off, 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs in August. That’s up from 4 million in July, which was itself a record: “By far the most in the two decades the government has been keeping track,” according to the New York Times.

The lion’s share of those who quit were working in lower-paying, front-line, customer-facing positions, like retail, restaurants, travel, and hospitality. That leads to three educated guesses I’ve seen about what’s motivating the Great Walk Away:

  1. Fear of contracting the Delta variant at work (or a sense that the risk isn’t worth the reward).

  2. The realization that employees have more leverage now than they’ve had in a long time, precisely because businesses are having a hard time retaining workers.

  3. Pandemic-inspired reevaluation of priorities, like whether it makes long-term sense to work short-term jobs in the first place. For example, 309,000 women over age 20 dropped out of the workforce entirely in September, and the theory is that many of these women were moms dealing with “unstable school and childcare situations.”

I’ve written a lot over the years about how culture, respect, and purpose go a long way toward making people feel happier at work. I still think they’re the main differentiators between businesses with relatively similar pay, conditions, etc.

But it can take time to change culture. Respect and purpose don’t sprout overnight. So I’m also thinking about some things that employers can change quickly that might make a difference—especially at lower wage points.

A few ideas (these all assume that employers don’t think they have the cushion to simply raise wages quickly):

  • Paying employees faster—even daily. There’s been a bit written about this, pointing out the high percentage of lower-wage workers who live paycheck to paycheck, and how the current workaround for many is to take out payday loans at insane interest rates.

  • Making it easy for customers to tip, even in traditionally non-tip industries. I find myself tipping significantly more than I used to, pre-pandemic. (And I was never a bad tipper.)

  • Adding commissions to jobs that don’t normally get them. Want the teenagers working at your pizza place to encourage their friends to come in? Maybe give your employees coupons to share, and then give them a $1 bonus for each order they prompt.

Anyway, this is where you all come in. I’m thinking these things through both because they’re helpful, and because I want to write about them more.

So please: If you run a business and you’ve thought of things to do for employees that improve recruiting and retention, maybe share the ones that worked?

And if you identify more with the employee side of this relationship, what kinds of things do you think would be most effective? Let us know in the comments—and have a fantastic weekend!

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7 other things worth your time

  • Maybe we don’t need to worry about the robot revolution after all...AI is too busy designing trendy sneakers. (The Next Web)

  • Am I suddenly fashionable? Extravagant under-eye bags are apparently the latest TikTok trend and celebrity accessory. (The Guardian)

  • Better proofread that Facebook post! An Australian man embroiled in a court battle with a former employer may be liable for $180,000 in damages thanks to a missing apostrophe in something he wrote on social media. (Futurism)

  • Prince William to billionaires: Stop flying to space, and focus on trying to fix this planet. (NBC News)

  • “Netflix has suspended three employees for crashing a meeting of its top executives, including an out trans* person who criticized a new comedy special from Dave Chappelle.” (Variety)

  • Smart article by my colleague over at Inc.com, Jessica Stillman on “productivity dysmorphia,” which is the “painful gap that often opens up between people's objective accomplishments and their sense of their own success.” (Inc.com)

  • Thank God for wherever you were born, and then watch this North Korean propaganda video in which soldiers smash concrete with their heads, and otherwise attack inanimate objects with their bodies in front of an audience of the “Dear Leader” and military generals. One US analyst thinks it’s because they don’t want the expense of a traditional military parade. (Task & Purpose, Twitter)


Thanks for reading, as always. Photo credit: Pixabay. Want to see all my mistakes (including one from yesterday)? Click here. But don’t forget to leave a comment.

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