Is it the Great Resignation or the Great Recalibration?

by | May 20, 2022 | Hope + Uncertainty

Anthony Klotz, professor of psychology at Texas A&M, coined the term “Great Resignation”, according to Juliana Kaplan[1], writer for Business Insider. “(Klotz) told Insider that events like the pandemic make people step back and rethink their lives. … In some cases, that can cause people to change up careers – and companies will have to adjust.”

For four months in a row … a record number of Americans quit their jobs … “the Great Resignation” … took off after he was quoted by Bloomberg Businessweek on how to quit your job. … Given work’s elevated place in American culture, Klotz said he knew the existential crisis of business was bound to lead to an existential crisis for workers. … This creates a moment of reflection for employers. … It will depend on what we learn from who is quitting and why …

 What are the facts of this modern “resignation”? The October 2021 issue of Time magazine reported that in August 4.3 million quit their jobs, the sixth highest since 2000, while 7.7 remained unemployed though 10.4 million job openings stayed unfilled, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.[2] Abby Vesoulis[3] wrote in this Time article:

After months of economic- and pandemic-fueled uncertainty, things are finally looking up … But, labor experts say, that rosy picture doesn’t take into account the national mood. Americans, they say, are simply burned out—and emboldened by the current labor market. … They don’t want to return to back-breaking or boring, low-wage jobs.

Mark Zandi, of Moody’s Analytics, is quoted in this article as saying “It’s now going to be s worker’s market; they’re empowered and are starting to flex their collective muscle.”

Abby Vesoulis comments in her article that there is no single factor driving workforce behavior – surging prices, crumbling childcare industry, just plain pandemic fatigue, and the fear of the next Covid-19 variant. Compliance with vaccine mandates is not working; hospitals are still overwhelmed. “It seems that American workers are on a general strike.”

For all the negativity about the Great Resignation from Boomers retiring to women not returning to work, Deborah Lovich[4] writes for Forbes about the other side of the story with her article The Great Recalibration: Time for CEOs to Rebalance Work, Lives, Careers and What it Means to be Employed (2021).

Rather than complain or fret about the number of dropouts, … maybe leaders can channel this wave of resignations into something positive: changing how they organize and reward work. Perhaps the best way is to solve people’s problems.

Lovich suggests what she thinks are the best ways of ameliorating the job market and workplace culture:

  • Compensation: close the gap between the highest and lowest salaries/payments and benefits
  • Priorities: put work back in its proper place –flexible hours; work from home, paid family leave, balanced work-life
  • Connections: establish the importance of a relationship with a dynamic workplace culture; reshape management styles

Take-away: The pandemic reshaped many values in today’s workforce that people claim as rights.


[1] Kaplan, Juilana (2021);


[3] Vesoulis, Abby (2021); political reporter for Time.

[4]Lovich, Deborah (2021), Managing Director & Senior Partner at Boston Consulting Group;