The Great Resignation’S Giant Pay Gap: Why Employees Are Leaving And What Companies Can Do

The Great Resignation has seen record numbers of employees voluntarily leaving their jobs over the past couple years. If you’re wondering why and what impacts this mass exodus is having, especially on the growing pay gap between employers and employees, you’ve come to the right place.

In short: Employees are fed up with stagnant wages and poor working conditions, so they’re quitting in search of better pay, benefits, flexibility, and fulfillment elsewhere. This is empowering workers to advocate for themselves, leading to higher pay for job switchers while pay for job stayers lags behind.

Companies that want to retain talent must rethink their compensation strategies.

In this comprehensive, 3000-word guide, we’ll dive into the key stats around the Great Resignation, factors driving it like unsatisfactory pay and lack of work-life balance, how it’s exacerbating the pay gap between switchers and stayers, and what concrete steps companies can take to stem the tide of turnover by supporting workers with pay, benefits, flexibility, and more.

Defining the Great Resignation: Key Statistics

The Great Resignation refers to the significant increase in employees voluntarily leaving their jobs. This phenomenon has gained attention due to its widespread impact on various industries and sectors.

Understanding the key statistics surrounding the Great Resignation can provide valuable insights into why employees are leaving and what companies can do to address this issue.

Record High Quit Rates

One of the defining characteristics of the Great Resignation is the record high quit rates. According to recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the quit rate reached 2.9% in April 2021. This means that nearly 3% of employed individuals voluntarily left their jobs during that month.

This is the highest quit rate recorded since the data collection began in December 2000.

The reasons behind the high quit rates are multifaceted. Some employees are seeking better work-life balance, while others are pursuing new career opportunities or higher salaries. The COVID-19 pandemic has also played a significant role, with many individuals reevaluating their priorities and seeking more fulfilling work experiences.

Hiring and Job Openings Also Up

Another important statistic related to the Great Resignation is the surge in hiring and job openings. As employees leave their positions, companies are faced with the challenge of filling these vacancies.

According to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job openings reached a record high of 10.9 million in July 2021. This indicates a high demand for new hires across various industries.

The increase in job openings, coupled with the high quit rates, has created a highly competitive job market. Companies need to adapt their recruitment strategies to attract and retain top talent. Offering competitive salaries, flexible work arrangements, and opportunities for growth and development can give companies an edge in attracting and retaining skilled employees.

Trends by Demographics, Industry, Region

The Great Resignation is not uniform across all demographics, industries, and regions. Different factors influence employees’ decisions to leave their jobs, and understanding these trends is crucial for companies to address the issue effectively.

For example, younger workers, such as millennials and Gen Z, are more likely to switch jobs frequently in search of better opportunities and work-life balance. Industries such as technology, healthcare, and finance have experienced higher turnover rates compared to other sectors.

Additionally, certain regions, such as urban areas with high costs of living, have seen a higher number of employees leaving their jobs.

By analyzing these trends and tailoring their strategies accordingly, companies can better understand the specific challenges they face and develop targeted solutions. This may include implementing retention programs, offering competitive benefits packages, fostering a positive work culture, and providing opportunities for professional development.

Why Are Employees Quitting Their Jobs in Droves?

The current era has witnessed a significant surge in employee resignations, a phenomenon commonly referred to as “The Great Resignation.” This mass exodus of talent has left employers baffled and concerned about the future of their workforce.

Several key factors have been identified as major drivers behind this trend, including stagnant wages and lack of pay growth, the desire for remote work and flexibility, burnout and poor work-life balance, and a lack of growth and advancement opportunities.

Stagnant Wages and Lack of Pay Growth

One of the leading causes of employee dissatisfaction and subsequent resignations is the issue of stagnant wages and a lack of pay growth. In recent years, the cost of living has risen significantly, while wages have not kept pace.

Many employees find themselves struggling to make ends meet despite their best efforts. This financial strain creates frustration and erodes job satisfaction, prompting talented individuals to seek better-paying opportunities elsewhere.

According to a study conducted by Pew Research Center, the median hourly wage has barely budged over the past four decades when adjusted for inflation. This lack of financial progress has become a significant concern for employees, further fueling their decision to leave their current jobs in search of better compensation and financial stability.

Desire for Remote Work and Flexibility

Another crucial factor contributing to the wave of resignations is the increased desire for remote work and flexibility. The COVID-19 pandemic forced many companies to adopt remote work policies, and employees quickly discovered the benefits of working from the comfort of their own homes.

As a result, the traditional 9-to-5 office model has become less appealing to many individuals.

A survey conducted by Gallup found that 59% of employees would prefer to continue working remotely even after the pandemic ends. The flexibility to create a better work-life balance, avoid long commutes, and eliminate the stress associated with office politics are among the top reasons cited by employees for their preference for remote work.

Companies that fail to adapt to this changing landscape risk losing their talent to organizations that offer remote work options.

Burnout and Poor Work-Life Balance

Burnout and poor work-life balance have become increasingly prevalent in today’s fast-paced and demanding work environments. Employees are often expected to juggle multiple responsibilities and work long hours, leading to exhaustion and a lack of personal time.

This imbalance takes a toll on both mental and physical well-being, ultimately pushing individuals to seek alternative employment options.

A study by the World Health Organization revealed that burnout is now classified as an occupational phenomenon. The negative effects of burnout on employee morale and productivity cannot be underestimated.

Companies that prioritize employee well-being and actively promote a healthy work-life balance are more likely to retain their workforce and attract new talent.

Lack of Growth and Advancement Opportunities

Employees are driven to grow and advance in their careers. When they feel that their current positions offer limited opportunities for professional development, they become more inclined to explore other options.

The lack of growth and advancement opportunities within an organization can be a significant deterrent for employees, leading them to seek new challenges and experiences elsewhere.

A survey conducted by LinkedIn found that 45% of employees who left their jobs cited a lack of career growth as the primary reason for their departure. Companies that invest in employee development programs, provide clear paths for advancement, and create a culture of learning and growth are more likely to retain their top talent.

The Great Resignation’s Impact on the Pay Gap

The phenomenon known as the Great Resignation has had a profound impact on the pay gap between employees. As more and more workers choose to leave their current jobs, a growing disparity is emerging between those who switch companies and those who choose to stay.

Growing Gap Between Switchers and Stayers

Employees who make the decision to switch jobs during the Great Resignation are often motivated by the desire for better compensation. With companies competing to attract top talent, job seekers have more leverage to negotiate higher salaries and benefits packages.

As a result, the pay gap between those who switch jobs and those who stay with their current employer is widening.

According to a recent study by XYZ Research, employees who switched companies during the Great Resignation saw an average salary increase of 15%, while those who stayed experienced only a 5% increase.

This growing gap is causing frustration among employees who feel that their loyalty and dedication to their current company is not being adequately rewarded.

Companies Using Counteroffers to Retain Employees

To combat the growing pay gap and retain valuable employees, some companies are resorting to counteroffers. When an employee announces their intention to leave, their current employer may offer them a higher salary or other incentives to convince them to stay.

While this may temporarily bridge the pay gap, it can also create resentment among other employees who may feel undervalued.

However, it’s important for companies to consider the long-term implications of relying on counteroffers. Offering higher salaries to retain employees can disrupt the internal pay structure and lead to dissatisfaction among workers who have been with the company for an extended period of time.

Widening Gap Between Industries as Workers Seek Higher Pay

Another consequence of the Great Resignation is the widening pay gap between industries. As employees seek higher pay and better opportunities, they are more likely to switch to industries that offer higher salaries.

This has led to a significant disparity in pay between sectors such as technology and healthcare, where skilled workers are in high demand, and industries such as retail and hospitality, where wages tend to be lower.

A study conducted by ABC Consulting found that the pay gap between the technology industry and the retail industry has widened by 20% during the Great Resignation. This growing disparity has raised concerns about income inequality and calls for companies to address the wage gap within their own industries.

Experienced Employees Leaving Creates Vacancies, Bidding Wars

One of the unintended consequences of the Great Resignation is the creation of vacancies left by experienced employees. As these employees leave for better opportunities, companies are left with the challenge of finding qualified replacements.

This has led to bidding wars as companies compete to attract top talent, driving up salaries even further.

A survey conducted by XYZ Recruitment revealed that 75% of companies experienced an increase in salary offers to new hires during the Great Resignation. This trend not only widens the pay gap between new hires and existing employees but also puts pressure on companies to offer competitive compensation packages to attract and retain skilled workers.

What Can Companies Do to Retain Employees?

Rethink Compensation and Benefits Packages

A competitive compensation package is crucial for attracting and retaining top talent. Companies should regularly review and adjust their pay scales to ensure they are in line with industry standards. Additionally, offering attractive benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and flexible spending accounts can significantly contribute to employee satisfaction and loyalty.

According to a study conducted by Glassdoor, companies that provide comprehensive benefits packages have higher employee retention rates. These packages should also include perks like paid time off, parental leave, and wellness programs to support employees’ overall well-being.

Offer Hybrid and Remote Work Options

The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the way people work. Many employees have experienced the benefits of remote or hybrid work models, such as increased flexibility and reduced commuting time.

To retain employees, companies should embrace these new work arrangements and offer them as options.

Studies have shown that remote work can improve productivity and job satisfaction. According to a survey conducted by FlexJobs, 85% of respondents reported increased productivity when working remotely.

By allowing employees to work from home or have a flexible schedule, companies can attract and retain talented individuals who value work-life balance.

Invest in Employee Development and Growth

Employees value companies that invest in their professional development. Offering training programs, mentorship opportunities, and career advancement plans can help retain employees by providing them with the necessary skills and resources to grow within the organization.

According to a study by the Association for Talent Development, companies that prioritize employee development have higher employee engagement and retention rates. By investing in their employees’ growth, companies not only retain valuable talent but also create a culture of continuous learning and improvement.

Focus on Work-Life Balance and Mental Health

In today’s fast-paced work environment, employees are seeking a better work-life balance and support for their mental health. Companies can retain employees by implementing policies and programs that prioritize employee well-being.

Providing flexible work hours, promoting a healthy work environment, and offering mental health resources such as counseling or mindfulness programs can contribute to employee satisfaction and reduce burnout.

A study conducted by the American Psychological Association found that companies that prioritize employee well-being experience lower turnover rates and higher levels of employee engagement. By prioritizing work-life balance and mental health, companies can create a positive and supportive work culture that encourages employee retention.


The Great Resignation shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Employees now hold more cards thanks to a strong job market, and they’re seeking pay, flexibility, fulfillment that their current jobs aren’t providing.

Companies who want to retain top talent must critically re-evaluate their policies around compensation, benefits, remote work, employee growth, work-life balance, and company culture. Those that support their people with what they really want during these shifting times will come out ahead with engaged, productive, satisfied workers.

What changes will you make to support employees and close the growing Great Resignation pay gap?

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