3 signs the Great Resignation is still going strong

It's still bad out there: people are quitting jobs without finding a new one first and working while sick due to worries about remote work.

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You may be tired of reading about The Great Resignation and tempted to dismiss this dynamic in the workforce. The bad news is that this isn't a short-term trend. Three new studies show that burnout is real and workers are acting on their unhappiness.

No new job lined up? No problem

People are so burned out on work that they are leaving their current jobs even if they don't have a new role lined up. That's one of the findings from Limeade's latest research on the Great Resignation. This survey went straight to the source: all 1,000 people who took the survey started a new job in 2021.

Limeade found that people left because they felt underappreciated and burned out. They were looking for jobs that took less of a mental toll. Here's what the numbers look like:

  • 28% left without a new job to go to
  • 40% who had a new job chose it because of the ability to work remote
  • 24% left because the new job offered flexibility in working hours
  • 22% felt more comfortable disclosing a mental health condition with their new employer 

Although remote work was the number one reason people gave for leaving, more money was a close second. Better management was number three. Limeade found that 29% of people received a 10-19% pay increase. The next largest group - 23% - did not see a raise with the new job and 13% took a pay cut. 

SEE: Home vs. office: Why there's such a disconnect between workers and employers

One thing that hadn't changed was the number of hours these new employees are working; only 9% saw a drop in time spent at work.

People aren't taking sick days

One benefit of working from home is that people can use commute time to work out, sleep in or do other tasks to take care of themselves. A new survey suggests that this shift in working conditions is actually making it harder for people to take care of themselves. Skynova surveyed 1,000 remote employees about taking time off and sick days during the pandemic. The news isn't good:

  • 4 in 10 people have not taken a sick day since they began remote work
  • 62% of respondents reported working through a physical illness
  • 42% said they worked from home during a mental illness
  • 31% of people say they've taken an unofficial sick day

About a third of respondents think that supervisors will be suspicious about or judgmental of requests for time off during remote work. Most companies have not made PTO policies more strict over the last 18 months, but 18% of respondents said these policies have become more strict. In those environments, 62% of people talked themselves out of a workday, versus only 42% of people in work environments where policies didn't change.

SEE: Managers have to rely on trust without transparency with remote workers 

Finally, there's a gender dynamic to this problem. Women are more likely than men to power through physical and mental illness, instead of taking time to care for their health, according to the survey. 

It's easy to dismiss this as an employee problem, as opposed to a company problem. The survey did find that nothing had changed in terms of sick days for about half of respondents. However, the survey also found that people who had taken the most sick days reported the highest level of job satisfaction.

If you want to keep employees instead of losing them to the Great Resignation, encourage people to take time off when they need it, especially sick days. 

Hybrid work is creating more anxiety  

Companies can't focus exclusively on workers who might leave. The hybrid approach to work life is creating its own set of challenges for people who aren't looking for a new job. The specific problem is FOMO, which is not limited to social settings. This fear of missing out is a dangerous dynamic in the workplace when people working in-person have more opportunities for advancement and face time than their remote colleagues.

HR experts have suggested taking a remote-first approach to prevent this problem. The rush to return to some type of in-person work seems to have pushed this concern lower on the priority list. The insurance company Breeze surveyed 1,000 Americans who are working remotely for companies that have some people back in the office. Forty-seven percent said they have been feeling anxious about this situation. 

This isn't a fleeting feeling with no impact on daily work, according to the survey. Sixty-six percent of respondents say FOMO has influenced productivity and efficiency. 

SEE: Microsoft: Remote work is exhausting and we need to take action now

The survey also asked what was causing this anxiety:

  • 41% - Working more hours to avoid giving the impression I'm slacking off
  • 19% - Worried that in-person workers are getting more opportunities 
  • 17% - Missing out on everyday conversations
  • 11% - Worried about gossip among in-person workers
  • 10% - Missing out on in-person opportunities to showcase my work
  • 3%   - Other

Survey respondents also report that this anxiety is causing physical symptoms ranging from exhaustion (54%) and aches and pains (49%) to chest pain (41%) and stomach aches (33%).

Half of all respondents also report depression and irritability as well. On a positive note, 57% of poll participants who have experienced mental illness said they got professional help to cope. Also, 67% of that group said employer health insurance and benefits programs were helping cover the costs of those services. 

A large chunk of people are solving this problem by going back to in-person work; 43% plan to return to the office. Almost a quarter of respondents are too concerned about COVID-19 to do that and 15% said they have too many responsibilities at home. 

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By Veronica Combs

Veronica Combs is a senior writer at TechRepublic. For more than 10 years, she has covered technology, healthcare, and business strategy. In addition to her writing and editing expertise, she has managed small and large teams at startups and establis...