“The Great Resignation” is such a deeply flawed narrative

Ted Bauer
4 min readJan 11, 2022

There has been so much hand-wringing over labor statistics and employment quit-rates, i.e. “The Great Resignation,” in the past six to eight months. Almost every narrative out there is a complete joke. Let’s just run through a couple of things quickly on this topic, if we may.

First of all, the reason people typically leave jobs is because they get (a) treated like shit, either by management or customers and then (b) they get paid like shit while being treated like shit. If you want to solve the “resignation” problem, you essentially need nicer, self-aware people in management ranks, you need customers who aren’t entitled a-holes, and you need salary that allows people to keep up with the ends they need to meet. This is very hard, though. Companies don’t like to pay people money, and America loves itself some convenience, which often leads to people being entitled assholes to servers and customer-facing employees.

Second off, put aside the “Dementia Joe is offering socialist free money” narrative for a second. A lot of that is just ideology and not fact. Many of those provisions expired months ago. Are there still people out there getting handouts? Yes. Are there people scamming and working the system? Yes. Will that always be true? Yes. Does it account for all the various labor market discrepancies, i.e. people just don’t want to work anymore? No.

Third, almost every article written about this topic tends to quote HR people — who know nothing about how businesses run, writ large — or executives, who have a vested interest in “the old way of working” and want to keep costs as low as possible. They sometimes also quote “thought leaders,” who generally know nothing and last sat daily in a cubicle farm 14 years ago, or journalists, who also know nothing because journalism is a much different type of work than retail or updating CRMs. All these hot takes NEVER quote someone who really knows what’s happening with workers, or someone that understands the realities of the job market. Case in point: 60 Minutes weighed in on all this last weekend, and they used as the fulcrum point a minority woman, with degrees from Stanford, Harvard, and Oxford, who already has a high-up title at LinkedIn.

Ted Bauer

Mostly write about work, leadership, friendship, masculinity, male infertility, and some other stuff along the way. It's a pleasure to be here.