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Workers Who Quit During COVID Are Now Regretting It

TL;DR intro

  • Job Regret:Many workers who left their jobs during the pandemic regret their decision, citing dissatisfaction with leadership, culture, and wages.
  • Job Satisfaction Decline:Job satisfaction declined significantly among those who switched jobs compared to those who stayed.
  • Key Areas of Dissatisfaction:Leadership, communication, and financial benefits are key areas of dissatisfaction for job switchers.

The Great Resignation saw millions of workers leave their jobs in search of better opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, many of those who switched jobs are now experiencing regret. According to a new survey by The Conference Board, workers who changed jobs since the pandemic are significantly less satisfied than their colleagues who stayed put.

Here's what the survey says:

Regret Among Job Switchers

The survey reveals that leadership and workplace culture are the primary drivers of dissatisfaction among job hoppers. These workers report a substantial gap in satisfaction levels compared to those who remained with their employers. Aside from "people issues," money also plays a significant role. Many workers were enticed by higher wages to take new jobs during the pandemic, but now report less satisfaction with their earnings, likely due to inflation eroding their purchasing power.

Overall job satisfaction remained virtually unchanged, ticking up slightly to 62.7%. However, every individual driver of job satisfaction saw a decline, with the largest drops in financial benefits such as bonuses, base benefits, wages, and promotions. This decline underscores the impact of persistent inflation on workers' financial well-being.


The Grass Isn't Always Greener

Key findings from the survey highlight the challenges faced by workers who jumped ship during the pandemic:

  • Workers who left their jobs are far less satisfied than those who stayed. Job switchers' overall job satisfaction is down 5.6 percentage points.
  • Key areas of dissatisfaction include leadership quality, communication, job interest, co-workers, and job security.
  • Overall satisfaction is lowest among those who have worked in their current job for between 6 months and 3 years. Nearly half of these workers intend to leave their jobs within the next 6 months due to dissatisfaction with bonuses, promotions, training, recognition, and performance reviews.

In contrast, employees who have been with their employers for more than three years report higher satisfaction levels. Satisfaction increases substantially once employees pass the three-year mark, rising from 58.2% to 63.6%, and continues to improve until the 10-year mark.

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The Impact of Inflation and Work Arrangements

The survey found that financial benefits are a significant area of dissatisfaction. Workers feel the bite of inflation, with the largest declines in satisfaction related to bonuses, base benefits, wages, and promotions. Additionally, work arrangements play a crucial role in job satisfaction:

  • Fully on-site workers report the lowest job satisfaction at 60.2%.
  • Satisfaction for fully remote workers is higher at 64.1%.
  • Hybrid workers report the highest satisfaction at 65.5%.

Gender also plays a role in job satisfaction, with women significantly less satisfied than men across almost all job satisfaction components. The largest gaps are related to wages, bonuses, potential for growth, health benefits, and retirement plans.

The Need for Cultural Change

The survey indicates that workers are placing a higher premium on culture and work experience than before. While wages and key benefits remain vital to job satisfaction, a positive work culture and experience are becoming increasingly important.

Diana Scott, US Human Capital Center Leader at The Conference Board, emphasizes that job satisfaction is about more than just wages. "While wages and key benefits still matter, workers are more focused on positive work culture and experience. Provided pay and benefits are competitive, leaders will gain the most by offering strong growth opportunities, quality leadership, and work-life balance."

To improve job satisfaction and retain talent, employers should focus on:

  • Maintaining or improving flexible work arrangements.
  • Providing career development opportunities.
  • Ensuring competitive wages and core benefits.
  • Cultivating a supportive and positive workplace culture.
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The findings from The Conference Board's survey highlight the challenges faced by workers who changed jobs during the pandemic and the need for employers to focus on improving workplace culture and benefits. As job satisfaction appears to plateau, addressing these issues will be crucial for retaining talent and maintaining a happy and productive workforce.

For workers considering a job change, it's essential to evaluate all aspects of job satisfaction before making a move, as the grass isn't always greener on the other side.

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