Sunday, June 23, 2024

The Great Resignation: Why are Employees Quitting Jobs in India?

Covid Pandemic has changed a lot of dynamics in how the world works. So, for example, we now have online schools running in the remotest towns, eCommerce is booming, and people have shifted to inviting lesser people on occasions.

There is one more change that has completely changed the work dynamics. In March 2020, when the governments announced nationwide lockdowns, the working class was confused about how things would work. Finally, the corporate came up with a solution- Work From Home.

Corporates and Employees took to the ‘Work From Home’ dynamic quite optimistically as a starter. Companies saved time, money, and space, and employees saved commute time and expenses.

Yet, reports of employees quitting their jobs began to float in on the internet and other mediums from the US and created quite an uproar. Media organisations called the phenomenon as ‘The Great Resignation’ of 21st century.

“The Great Resignation is coming.”

In a Bloomberg Businessweek interview, Anthony Klotz, a psychologist and professor of business administration at Texas A&M University, said, “The great Resignation is coming.”

He explained that the Covid-19 pandemic had changed people’s perception of the work culture. He said, “Workers saw that quitting their jobs gave them a chance to take control of their personal and professional lives.”

Professor Klotz’s predictions came true; despite a downward slope in the resignation rates in the pandemic year, the first quarter of the fiscal year 2021-22 saw an unprecedented rise in the rates.

The US Bureau of Labor reported over 40 million employees had quit their jobs until November 2021. The issue only saw an upward trend. It is estimated that over 75.5 million people had quit their jobs in the US in 2021.

People from the leisure and hospitality saw the most quits in the US. The lower-paying industries such as trade, transportation and utilities, professional services, and retail were the most affected ones, while the high-paying jobs faced lesser brunt.

India, too, picked up the Great Resignation

The Government of India had announced a complete lockdown in March 2020. Since then, only the essential services remained fully operative while the rest either remained shut or shifted to the ‘work from home’ regime.

Soon, India, too, felt ‘The Great Resignation’ tremors. As per the Aon report, for the first time in 20 years, the attrition rate reached 21 per cent in 2021 compared to 12.8 per cent in the previous year.

India’s IT sector was the first to face the blow. According to Gartner, the TCS (Tata Consultancy Services) attrition rate picked from 8.6 per cent in the first quarter to 11.9 per cent in the second quarter. At the same time, Infosys saw voluntary attrition of 20.1 per cent in the second quarter of the year 2021-22.

The hospitality sector had already been under loss due to Covid-19 restrictions and had to let go of their employees. However, the attrition rate in India indicates that the top-level employees have been quitting their jobs.

So why are the employees quitting?

Professor Klotz’s observed four independent trends fueling “The Resignation” in America. First, he had said most employees who chose not to quit due to ongoing uncertainty would resign. Moreover, other reasons were widespread burnout among workers, widespread re-evaluation of priorities and values, and some workers’ reluctance to give up remote work.

While in India, according to the Randstad NV’s survey, 63 per cent of participants said they would rather be unemployed than be unhappy in a job. In addition, more than 70 per cent of participants agreed that their personal life is more important than their work life, and 61 per cent of them said they would choose not to work at all if money was no object.

Why is the Great Resignation trending?

Out of everything that the coronavirus taught, the one learning most employees took was that life is feeble. It made us conscious of various pivotal issues, and the need to reset our lives emerged.

We at CorpIndiaNews have collated major reasons behind the trend.

Rising Mental Health Issues

According to the World Health Organisation report,” Cases of depression and anxiety rose to 25 per cent during the first year of the pandemic.” While social isolation was one of the primary reasons for the unprecedented stress among individuals, young people and women were the worst hit.

Additionally, the reports stressed that loneliness, fear of infection, suffering, death for oneself and loved ones, grief after bereavement, and financial worries had been cited as stressors leading to anxiety and depression. Hence, employees overwhelmed due to the ongoing crisis left their jobs to feel relieved.

For example, even though corporates shifted their base to the internet, with increased zoom calls and digital attendance, they adjusted staff’s salaries at great discounts. Hence, pay cuts and increased working hours became laborious and encouraged employees to take time off.

Finally, the health workers who have been incessantly working during the pandemic called it quits due to exhaustion in the health sector.

Is The Great Resignation affecting India’s Job Market?

Work-Life Balance

Pandemic has significantly changed the definition of work-life balance. Moreover, it has played a great role in changing individual priorities. For example, employees who saw the loss of life, money, and freedom during the lockdown lean towards life after work.

Social isolation and leaving away from home (mostly losing the power to swiftly tip-toe) became a significant concern; most resignations came from employees looking for jobs that facilitate convenience over traditional corporate perks.

Hence, career-oriented individuals are now seeking work-life balance, which means spending more time with loved ones and enjoying leisure activities.

Is The Great Resignation affecting India’s Job Market?

Toxic Work Culture

While most employees chose to reset their priorities, many decided to finally address the toxic work culture in their offices through resignations.

Employees now consciously prioritise mental health and self-care over corporate goals making them less tolerable of aggressive targets, poor HR policies, and office politics.

Moreover, the trend shows that employees leave organizations that prioritise business goals over employees’ well-being. Hence, employees are no more interested in working in organisations that design achievable targets at the cost of employees’ mental health.

Additionally, individuals are leaving organisations that have yet to reform their work culture and company policies with the changed time. Hence, corporates that have failed to reframe their policies as per the new normal are facing higher attrition rates.

Is The Great Resignation affecting India’s Job Market?

FOMO Fever

The pandemic has caused a sense of urgency among individuals. A report on ‘India: Retaining talent amid the great resignation’ by SHRM, discussed changing trends after the pandemic. The report says that individuals are no more interested in five-year plans and are rather interested in the near line of sight and living today.

It mentioned how the induced feeling of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is driving individuals to tick mark their bucket lists rather than planning for a stable career. Hence, people are more interested in travelling to their dream destinations, fulfilling social obligations, or enjoying life at large then to face the uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

Better Opportunities and Relocation

The pandemic has opened new avenues in the global job market. Earlier employers could acquire the right talents due to demographic constraints are now able to get the right individual for their job. Today, organisations are open to recruiting individuals from less-known institutions. Hence, digitisation has widened opportunities for individuals who wish secure jobs in their dream organisations.People are now leaving their current jobs for better opportunities.

Moreover, another aspect of the trend is relocation. As the pandemic took away the convenience of travelling, relocating became important for individuals living in cities outside of their hometowns. It was essential to find a home near home. Therefore, more and more individuals quit their jobs to find opportunities in their hometowns or the nearest cities.

Study More and Skill up

The pandemic also presented those who always wanted to pursue higher studies or learn new skills that would make their jobs easier and boost their careers with an opportunity to clear up their heads and work in that direction finally. Additionally, lockdowns and availability of online courses brought an opportunity to brush up on a few skills or look forward to acquiring a whole new skill set for finding better career opportunities.

Wake Up Call

The Covid-19 pandemic also turned out to be a wake-up call, making people realise that jobs or fields that are in trend today may not be the best career options in the future. Many fields, such as Automation, Artificial Intelligence, Metaverse, etc., might not only be the following big things, something worth investing time and money but also, in the literal sense, may as well be the future. Hence, individuals are more inclined toward resetting their careers to the next big thing in the market.


During the pandemic, there were a lot of layoffs in almost every field of work which made people who were completely dependent on their then jobs too anxious and insecure about their futures. Also, the toxic work culture in offices never helps in such situations leading to more resignations.

While it may have been a curse for some people, for the more ambitious lot who always had had a drive for entrepreneurship and innovation, this resignation turned out to be a boon. Individuals found the pandemic the right time to quit their jobs and initiate their long-pending plans to start their start-up careers.

Is The Great Resignation affecting India’s Job Market?

Freelancing Gig

The work from home boosted many individuals in creative fields to start their own gigs. In addition, people who felt the rot of staying in certain work cultures and wished to break free became freelancers. The self-employed individuals choose independence over organisational boundaries and are now working as freelancers for the time being.

How Long will the trend last?

Notably, most of the reasons listed here are driven by psychological and social factors that emerged during the pandemic: some temporary yet thought worthy and some permanent but tolerable. As a result, even though these factors are prevailing, it is estimated that employees will bounce back soon after things get normal.

Experts believe the trend will end soon as things get back to normal and corporates form cohesive policies. Yet, companies will have to think beyond increased paychecks, monetary compensation, or free enrollment in yoga classes. Instead, employers should make strategies to adapt to the new normal and offer employees a flexible environment to work in here.

For example, large organisations have been working on customizing employee compensation. Emphasing on non-monetary rewards and benefits, Anil Santhapuri, head of learning and development at CGI, Bengaluru, had said “ One of the key tenets of modern HR is to take the issues of money off the table.”

Talking about customising employee compensation, he explained that while new recruits may value a physical workplace to share and collaborate ideas with colleagues, young mothers who have to find daycares for their children may prefer remote work. Hence, customisation will play a key role in the new normal.

Hence, workspace configuration is the need of the hour. In addition, after a two-year-long pandemic, corporations are developing strategies to restart their workspaces effectively. Hence, Workspace reconfiguration is a way to consciously address covid-induced issues in the working environment and bring work life back on track.

Additionally, reframing strategies and compensations plans will help organisations have happy employees and teams that will synergise for greater productivity.

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