Amazing to read that over 4 million Americans quit their jobs in September – as part of a massive withdrawal from work called the Great Resignation. The social and economic chaos triggered by COVID-19 has apparently blurred pre-pandemic assumptions.
Many of those who quit their jobs have used the downtime to re-imagine what they want out of life and conclude that “work no longer fits that image,” reports Barron.
Where is it going? The answer depends on what the resigners did before terminating their employment. Most likely, do not plan to wipe paid work out of their future for good, but rather take personal time off. The best placed to try their hand at leisure are those who have kept their wages during the closures.
Others who work on the front line may give up through exhaustion. We are talking about healthcare professionals responsible for treating thousands of dying patients. Or retail workers forced to confront mentally unbalanced buyers with tantrums at mask mandates.
The same goes for flight attendants who have dealt with mean and crazy passengers. Those who stayed at work deserve a medal for bravery, but it’s understandable that some of their colleagues have turned in their wings.
After a rest, many of these burnout cases can return to the world of work. Some may have seen the labor shortage reduce the risk of temporary unemployment. They thought they could still find a job when the money ran out.
It is true that many of us have learned to cope with less. But settling for less is not the same as living on nothing. And Americans in general have not been brilliant at financial planning.
About 51% have less than three months of emergency savings, according to the Bankrate website. For those with only three months’ worth and quit in September, time is running out in December.
Some Americans would advance their retirement years by a few years. As for those we hear about with retirement plans at the age of 55, we have to ask ourselves: who the hell are they? Heirs? Lucky technicians? Survivors?
These retired children may not have the assets usually prescribed for breadwinners who choose a normal retirement age. After all, a couple leaving the workforce at 65 may need $ 300,000 just to cover health care costs, Fidelity believes.
A retirement advisor revealed to Barron’s what he had to say to some clients seeking an early exit: “It won’t work unless you plan to live past 75.” As life expectancy increases, he cautions people even in their late 60s to accumulate enough savings to last 30 years.
This is not to reject the interest of using the Great Resignation to reassess one’s priorities. Many of us have experienced the sweetness of spending more time at home with self-cooked meals, simple wardrobes, and no commute.
But the work is in American DNA. An Italian friend once asked me why the Rockefellers work. I replied that in our culture, people find dignity in work.
In 1883, Theodore Roosevelt gave up his sweet life in New York City to brutally work a ranch in the badlands of North Dakota. “By far the best price life offers is the chance to work hard at a job that is worth it,” he said, unsurprisingly.
Plus, having a place outside the home to socialize, such as an office, has psychological benefits. A way to stay tied to others, it drives away loneliness, which can lead to anxiety and depression.
But Americans also need money, although not as much as they once thought. The product of soulless work and better expense management could be the beautiful flower that grows from the Great Resignation.
The Froma Harrop column is syndicated by Creators.