What’s Causing America’s Career Crisis?

handing over a letter of resignation

America is currently in the midst of The Great Resignation — but what’s the root cause? To get some insights into our nation’s career crisis, ResumeLab surveyed 1,000 American workers about what’s been leading to job dissatisfaction and causing many to consider leaving their current roles.

Read: 5 Alternatives To Quitting in the Post-Pandemic Great ResignationFind Out More: Is a ‘Great Resignation’ Coming When Workers Go Back to the Office? 

Here are some of the main factors at play.

Low Pay Is the Top Trigger for a Career Crisis

The survey asked workers which factors are the most likely to trigger a professional crisis, and nearly one-third — 29% — said pay that’s too low in relation to the work performed. Other triggers include excessive workload (24%), bad management (17%), too many overtime hours (11%), not being aligned with the company’s culture (10%) and bad colleagues (9%).

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Often, bad management and an expectation that employees will work overtime are interconnected.

“Workers who feel their boundaries of time are not defined well — or not at all — and are often encroached on by the team leader or supervisor [are likely to feel] job dissatisfaction,” said Mark Anthony Dyson, founder at The Voice of Job Seekers. “Even during the pandemic, the expectation to frequently communicate is often unrealistic or undefined by the team leader or supervisor despite working remotely.”

A misalignment with a company’s culture can also weigh heavily on employees, prompting them to consider leaving their jobs.

“Organizations must create a set of values for community initiatives, marketing materials, etc.,” said Aleasa Word, a DEI and cultural dexterity consultant at A. Word & Company. “When they don’t align with the actual culture of the company from the bottom up, it creates pockets of mistrust, dissatisfaction and disillusion. Having KPIs in place to be sure the culture and values align at every level is important.”

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See: How To Avoid Work Burnout During a Pandemic

Job Insecurity Is the No. 1 Reason Workers Have Left a Job

Of those who already had experienced a career crisis, the causes were slightly different. The top causes of professional crises among American employees who did leave their jobs were job insecurity (37%), personal conflicts at work (32%) and boredom with work (30%). Other causes include having no opportunity for higher earnings, no development opportunities, poor working conditions, fear of contracting COVID-19 at work, being forced to work remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic and being discouraged by competition at work.

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The Role of the Pandemic in America’s Career Crisis

“The reasons behind job dissatisfaction can be many, but what we’re seeing with the so-called Great Resignation is something else — and it’s mostly a direct effect of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Zoë Morris, president at Frank Recruitment Group. “This has probably been the single greatest crisis in recent years, and the way we live and work changed overnight. Now that most things appear to be going back to normal, the shift in our priorities and values that most of us have experienced during these past months seems to be here to stay. Inevitably, this has an immense effect on what employees now look for in their professional lives. Elements like work-life balance and flexibility have taken center stage during these past months — and continue to do so as employees leave organizations whose policies and ways of operating are no longer aligned with what they are looking for, whether that’s improved diversity, equality, flexibility or forward-thinking. In turn, those prioritizing these values and ways of working are seeing a surge in talented professionals looking to join their organization.”

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Beyond changing how we work, the pandemic has caused many employees to reassess their current jobs through a new critical lens.

“The impacts of COVID-19 have produced an existential crisis for many people,” said Wendy Ryan, CEO of Kadabra, a leadership and change consulting firm. “People lost loves ones and co-workers suddenly and unexpectedly to long-term disability or death, and those experiences have a way of causing many people to pause and reflect on what they really want out of life, including their work.”

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