The Great Resignation: How to Combat this through the eyes of a Gen-Z’er

The Great Resignation is not just for kids. Getty Images/iStockphoto

Now more than halfway through 2022, I think we safely say that on the whole we have moved past the worst effects of Covid-19 as a health pandemic. However, a frightening phenomenon has occurred, one that has been called “the Great Resignation.” This movement has appeared to impact the whole of our society, especially in relation to our mental health and socio-economic economies. There were a multitude of factors which forced mass unemployment, which resulted in businesses going under. For the ones that did survive, they were having to make drastic cuts. In 2021 thousands of people across the UK and around the world left their jobs as workers were given time to think about their choices and at this point, many began to adjust to a new way of working. 

What is The Great Resignation?

The Great Resignation is defined as a mass exodus of workers who feel unfulfilled by their current jobs and have chosen to leave them prematurely, rather than continue in uninspiring roles. Great resignation workers include Gen-Xers who were forced to find new jobs after the 2008 financial crisis, Millennials who were hit by the Great Recession but had higher standards for their jobs, and now Gen-Z who want more out of life than just work. As a young person at the precipice of Gen-Z and Millennial, I have seen the trend continue amongst my peers and fear it will continue to affect future generations. (1)


Burnout and the Great Exhaustion – Why did they leave?

Between 2020 to 2021 Limeade an immersive well-being company, conducted a survey into the great resignation and looked at workers who had changed jobs (2). Their results found that 40% of employees cite burnout as the top reason for departure and 28% resigned without a job lined up. For those who had changed jobs, they did so based on:

○ The Ability to work remotely (40%)
○ Better compensation (37%)
○ Better management (31%)

Linked to the Great Resignation is the also the phenomenon, called ‘the Great Exhaustion’. Imagine feeling like you have not slept despite going to bed at 11pm and waking up at 6am or feeling like you have run a marathon even if you have just sat in your home office all day. This phenomenon was brought to light by researchers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW)
Sydney in Australia. Further, Professor Rae Cooper at the University of Sydney, describes this as “the weariness of people after 30 months of thoroughly stressful life”. (3) This has been due to overwhelming physical, mental and financial pressures placed on people during the pandemic, which lead to burnout and Cooper suggests that this is a much bigger issue for women.

Who is disproportionately affected and why?

Deloitte Global stated that “despite the fact that many employers have implemented new ways of working designed to improve flexibility, our research shows that the new arrangements run the risk of excluding the very people who could most benefit from them, with the majority of the women we polled having experienced exclusion when working in a hybrid environment”. (4) Their report ‘Women @ Work 2022: A Global Outlook’ that surveyed 5000 women across 10 countries, found that 10% of women were wanting to remain in their current jobs for more than five years and 1 in 10 women were seeking other employers. Perhaps the unclear boundaries and expectations of remote working, may have left women working double and contributed to them being impacted by the great exhaustion.

‘Quiet quitting’ has also become another popular overnight phenomenon, which offers a solution to job dissatisfaction, with methods shared amongst younger people on social media platforms, such as TikTok. The idea is to simply work within the boundaries of what you are being paid to do. However, whilst this does seem like a healthy approach to combat toxic productivity and normalise a healthier work life balance, it may not be sustainable and in the long run, will again, continue to impact more women.

5 Questions you should ask yourself?

How can we combat this and create more accommodating workplaces?

In order to retain and attract staff many organisations are offering hybrid/remote working options, four-day work weeks and mental health days. However, despite this support, people are still criticising these solutions as potentially being tokenistic and not getting to the root of the problem. One reason for this is that companies may not be tailoring their approach to represent the challenges of the staff most affected. For example, media campaigns can be a powerful tool in the effort to reintegrate women back into the workplace. Indeed, the worldwide job listing company, tend to centre their TV adverts on realistic stories. In 2020 they aired the advert Belonging: Sarah, which told the story of Sarah who was let go from a casting job that she loved at the age of 56 and was experiencing ageism within the industry. Eventually, after being guided to use Indeed, she later finds a job, whereby she is recognised for the skills that she brings to the table. In 2021 they released a similar advert called A New Beginning 30, but this time from the point of view of a woman returning to the workplace having taken time out to transition. (5)

There are Women Return Programmes also designed to support their journeys back into the labour market, but what about Gen-Z, or women who have not yet had a career to come back to?

How can you avoid becoming one of these statistics if you’re currently unhappy at your job?

Before you seek employment elsewhere, it’s important to do an honest assessment of yourself and the current state of your career. To do this, you should ask yourself these five questions:

1. What are my strengths and weaknesses?
2. What are my passions?
3. What is my ideal work environment?
4. What is my desired income?
5. What are my long-term goals?

Keeping these five questions in mind will help you find meaningful work without making rash career decisions. After you have done an honest assessment of yourself and the current state of your career, you should then ask yourself these three questions:

1. Is this job holding me back from growing?
2. Is this job providing me with valuable skills?
3. Is this job meeting my financial needs?

If you answer yes to Q1 or no to Q2/3, you should consider making a change. If you answered yes to any or all of the above questions, it is likely that you would be open to changing your current job with a better one. If you answered no to any or all of the above questions, it is likely that you would be open to making a change by moving on from your current job. It’s important that you do this before it’s too late!

Final words from a Gen-Z’er

It’s important that we find meaning in our work before any of the phenomenon’s outlined in this article take stuck. Pluck up the courage and have a one-on-one meeting with your manager and express your desire to find meaning in your work. You can start simply by identifying “what’s important to you?” What are your hopes and dreams? Do you want to travel or have the flexibility to work overseas? Be mindful however, of what their current challenges are.

If they don’t have the ability to help you, you should explore mentoring opportunities. These can help you to understand what an authentic approach to navigate your workplace can look like. Finding your network of advocates can also be useful to give you support and offer you holistic solutions to not just surviving in the workplace but thriving at what you do.



1) Wingard, J. (2021) ‘The Great Resignation’: Why Gen Z Is Leaving The Workforce In Droves…And What To Do About It. Forbes Online. [] 

2) Majority of Job-Changers in the Great Resignation Were Burned Out, Wanted to Be Valued and Cared For. (2021) Cision PR Newswire. []

3) Porter, A (2022) The Great Exhaustion: why we’re all experiencing an absolute, overwhelming feeling of emotional exhaustion. Stylist Magazine. []

4) Women @ Work 2022: A Global Outlook’ (2022) []

5) Bowler, H (2022) ‘War, Transphobia, Discrimination’: CMO On The Issues Marketers Must Address, The Drum. []