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Why 42% of Workers Are Seriously Considering Quitting Their Jobs

Happy businesswoman leaving job with box of belongings.

Image source: Getty Images

Between May 3, 2023, and May 21, 2023, FlexJobs surveyed 2,600 working professionals. The goal was to capture a snapshot of how workers are feeling about their jobs in a world that has shifted the way they think about work. What these working professionals shared with them provided fascinating insight into the changing landscape of the American employment scene.

42% actively considering quitting

One of the most surprising statistics to come out of the FlexJobs survey was the number of people who are actively considering leaving their current place of employment — a whopping 42%! Here are the top reasons they give for wanting to walk out the door one last time:

  • Poor work-life balance: 29%
  • Low or unfair pay: 28%
  • Toxic company culture: 27%
  • Feeling undervalued: 26%
  • Limited advancement opportunities: 25%
  • Too stressful: 25%
  • Lack of remote work opportunities: 23%
  • Bad boss: 22%
  • Misaligned values: 21%
  • Inflexible work hours: 21%

Many survey respondents also expressed a desire to change careers entirely. Given that 20% of the professionals surveyed say they’ve recently quit a job, that means 62% of employed working professionals surveyed either want to quit their job or have quit their job in recent days.

Career change

The desire to make a career change is about more than how much money is going into the bank each month. In total, 58% of those surveyed say they’re actively working toward a career change, with many looking for a job that will add meaning to their lives. Here are the reasons workers gave for investigating new careers:

  • Remote work options: 50%
  • Higher pay: 48%
  • Better work-life balance: 46%
  • More meaningful or fulfilling job: 40%
  • To expand their skill set: 30%
  • Current lack of advancement opportunities: 28%
  • Approaching retirement: 16%
  • To pursue a passion: 16%
  • Current career has never been a good fit: 13%
  • Turning a side hustle into a full-time job: 12%

It’s unsurprising, with the rise of remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic, that half of those looking for a career change would prefer the option to work from home.

Fear of layoffs

Despite the low unemployment numbers, several sectors have implemented layoffs since late 2022. Perhaps it’s no surprise that 39% of workers say they are either a little worried or extremely worried about being laid off from their current job.

It’s unclear whether fewer people would want to change careers if they believed their work was valued and their jobs secure.

The role employers play

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s been a lot of talk about how difficult it is for businesses to find new employees. The discussion often includes someone mumbling about how “no one wants to work anymore.” At some point, it may behoove employers to examine their role in the ongoing problem.

According to the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory — a scale that’s used to estimate a person’s vulnerability to major health breakdowns — losing a job ranks among the 10 most stressful events in life. While corporations may view layoffs as a strategic business decision, those decisions spell disaster for a huge number of people.

Layoffs can lead to financial hardship, particularly for those who had been living paycheck to paycheck and have been unable to build a sufficient emergency fund. Perhaps more importantly, layoffs can result in devastating effects on mental and emotional health.

When a company conducts layoffs because it knowingly overhired to meet a specific short-term goal, it’s not just balancing the books, it’s upending lives. When a business cuts highly-compensated employees shortly before the annual shareholder’s meeting, it’s not just enhancing the bottom line, it’s treating human beings like a commodity.

Ironically, layoffs almost always backfire. Joint research from Stockholm University and the University of Canterbury found that after a layoff, employees who remained on the job experienced a 41% decline in job satisfaction. Employees also experienced a 36% decline in commitment to the organization and a 20% decline in job performance. It’s at that point that remaining high performers begin looking for the door to leave.

Employers may believe they’re saving money, but as employee engagement declines, the European study showed that organizations sputter.

The bottom line is this: When an employee stops believing they work for a company that’s looking out for their best interest, they become disengaged and far more likely to seek employment elsewhere.

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