This is Why 40% of Employees Want To Quit

New survey shows unhappy workers are considering new career opportunities and guaranteed remote work


The workplace may have been the global pandemic’s most serious victim.

Microsoft surveyed 30,000 people in 31 countries and found 41% are considering quitting their jobs. This sentiment is shared by 54% of Generation Z — people born after 1997.

By contrast, Microsoft found 61% of business leaders reported “thriving,” which the World Economic Forum said could indicate they are out of touch with their employees’ concerns. 

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in the report, “Over the past year, no area has undergone more rapid transformation than the way we work … Employee expectations are changing, and we will need to define productivity much more broadly – inclusive of collaboration, learning and wellbeing to drive career advancement for every worker, including frontline and knowledge workers, as well as for new graduates and those who are in the workforce today. All this needs to be done with flexibility in, when, where and how people work.”

Microsoft’s findings have been recreated by other researchers.

In the wake of the pandemic, workers are worn out and have shifted their expectations regarding employment. In March, Prudential’s Pulse of the American Worker Survey found that 1 in 4 workers were considering quitting their jobs after the pandemic. Of the 2,000 employed adults surveyed, 72% say the pandemic caused them to rethink their skill sets. Many have rethought the role of the office: 42% of current remote workers said they would consider quitting if their company didn’t offer long-term remote work options. 

In a report on the company’s findings, Prudential vice chair Rob Falzon said, “Our survey shows that American workers want the benefit of remote work, but still see value in coming together in-person at least some of the time. For Prudential, working nine-to-five, five days a week in the office will be a relic of the past. A hybrid workplace is better for our business and our employees.”

The quitting trend is not hypothetical. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that nearly 4 million Americans quit their jobs in April. This summer, a wave of videos emerged on TikTok of users quitting their jobs. Millions of people who watched these moments — spurred by stress, exhaustion, or more interesting opportunities — posted the tag #quitmyjob. 

Lockdowns might have made leaving an unsatisfactory job a viable option for many people.

Slate’s Jordan Weissman wrote in June, “It likely helps that by staying in and collecting stimulus checks, Americans saved an enormous amount of money during the pandemic, giving them the breathing room to leave their job without a replacement lined up immediately. The extra financial cushion is probably giving some people the courage to try entrepreneurship out (the startup rate for new businesses shot up during the crisis and has stayed high into the past few months) or pursue a fun lark, like becoming a professional video game streamer.”

Commuting Problems

Recent gas shortages also make commuting to newly opened offices a serious expense. 

As crude oil demand halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic, oil prices plummeted, making gasoline in the U.S. its cheapest in nearly 20 years. In April 2020, gasoline demand in the United States was half of what it was in April 2019. One year on, the price of gasoline has reached its highest level in 2021,” per Statista.

The Balance noted that the average household that commuted via car in 2019 “spent $2,094 on gas and motor oil, while total transportation expenditures reached $10,742.” This was an average of $29 a day on transportation before the hike in gas prices.

Additionally, the motor vehicle industry is feeling the strain of supply chain and labor shortages. In a chain reaction, a shortage of computer chips crippled the production of new cars, which caused a 10% price increase for used cars which were already in limited supply. Garages and repair shops report being extremely, busy but unable to get all the materials they need. 

Moreover, public transportation does not present a reasonable alternative. Social distancing protocols and pandemic-related cleanliness standards have not been enough to convince commuters that buses, subways, and trains are safe. The nation’s largest public transit network, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York, currently sees about 2 million passengers a day. This is a sharp decline from the 5.5 million daily passengers it averaged before the pandemic. 

Workers may also not have reliable public transportation if they need to return to the office. PBS reports that “in a national survey from April 2020, the most widely explored solution to maintain social distancing was to simply increase service on particular routes to reduce overcrowding. But lower ridership and a smaller pool of available drivers during the pandemic has forced agencies to cut many bus and metro lines due to low turnout and a pool of fewer drivers.”

Higher Productivity 

While working from home can erase work/life boundaries, productivity remained high even as the world shut itself down last year. After an initial scramble, employees have had to adjust to new remote circumstances.

Digital tools were essential to maintaining work last year when offices around the world closed. Microsoft’s survey found that “the average meeting is now 10 minutes longer and the average Microsoft Teams user is sending 45% more chats. There were an additional 40.6 billion work emails in February compared to February 2020. And time spent in Teams meetings has increased 148%.”

According to SalesForce, the average time spent with digital media is moving toward 7.5 hours per day. For many industries, technological advancements like virtual document sharing, email, and internet access made work more efficient, leaving employees to question why they spend so much time at the office.

The 9-to-5 workweek became standard in America in the 1900s with the federal government and Ford Motors adopting a schedule that still resembles modern office hours. Iceland, on the other hand, found that reducing the average workweek from 40 hours to 35 resulted in citizens feeling happier and having a better quality of life without a decrease in productivity.

The potential mass exodus could trigger a “talent war” where companies would need to compete to attract prime candidates. The professional recruitment field could essentially function like a buyers’ market, with desirable candidates in a better position to negotiate the terms of their employment.

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14 responses to “This is Why 40% of Employees Want To Quit”

  1. JimmyQuinto says:

    The Pandemic
    work/life balance
    unemployment benefits
    seeking telework opportunities

  2. Galtha58 says:

    If you can do your job from home why in the world would the company that you work for want you to commute to work every day? I can see where once a week might be a good idea. But every day? No way does that seem to make any sense. You can collaborate with others online just as well as when you go to the office can’t you? What is the purpose of driving to work in your case?

  3. GOTEM99 says:

    Great article , got me rethinking what my future looks like!

  4. Jhaddon says:

    This is very interesting and good journalism. It gave me a lot to think about.

  5. Devilsgun says:

    It seems ridiculous that in this day of long distance work ability that employers demand that people in a lot of these useless, make-work office type “hobby jobs” commute for hours each day, unpaid, to a centrally located office to log in, sit down, and try to look busy when they have proven that they can do it from home… Total dick swinging power move bullshit, honestly.

    I was one of those “essential workers” who had to go in despite the ‘ronapocalypse and even though there’s a LOT of resentment from me over not getting a “paid vacation” where I’d make more from bennies than I did working I did enjoy the lack of heavy traffic. Lord knows .gov won’t do shit to keep the Corporapist Predatory Class in check though, especially with their selected goon-man Bumbles as “president”.

    Back to the slave pits, serfs. At least the tweets don’t trigger Karen anymore tho

  6. sinew87 says:

    I am not an office/white collar guy but I work for the postal service. This allowed me to leave California and transfer out to a more rural/suburb area because I shared similar frustrations like high cost of living and bad policies.

  7. Aero says:

    Great reporting – thank you.

  8. TheDarkworld says:

    As long as the WEF stays the hell away from the industrial field I’m content.

  9. BladeMcCool says:

    I need to renegotiate my salary

  10. acruhl says:

    My place of work is far away from most of the population center that are employed there. Therefore, most of us would save something like an hour per day of commuting which could be spent doing other things, including work if necessary. So the opportunity is there for the company to get more work out of a salaried employee.

    However, I do a job which requires me to be on site most of the time. I find myself wondering why I continue to do it if I have to spend time and money on a vehicle, time away from my kids, and all this other stuff when other remote workers don’t. There’s no distinction between remote and onsite employees by the company. In fact, I’m treated worse because I’m subject to “virus mitigations” which are not based in fact and I can be punished for not complying with them.

    I’m not going to do it forever.

  11. DrVinnyBoombatz says:

    My boss keeps promoting working in the office to collaborate with other teams.

    So our team began going in to the office again for a while. No one from the other teams was ever there.

    Reminds me of the Rodney Dangerfield joke, “A girl told me to come on over, there’s no one here. I went over…no one was there!”

  12. Unworried says:

    I’ve proved over the last two years that my effectiveness is enhanced by the fact I am remote, I can start sooner and get more done before the flurry of stupid has woken up.

    I sure as hell will not take public transport, it was a cesspool before and now its extra deadly.

    The great disconnect continues, as we are no longer ‘forced’ to congregate. Tribalism marches on.

  13. First off-Very good reporting on this issue.
    I have showed up at work everyday since the company allow work from home.
    My work load has increased and some days I am required to stay late waiting for my relief to login.
    The company is now asking people to return to the work place and WOW what a bunch of babies.
    FYI I am a boomer. (so let the hate fly)

  14. Wolv256 says:

    Because they’re weak