What ADP Research indicates is fueling the Great Resignation

This year, a growing number of employees have taken on a new or changing work role; the pandemic has had a negative impact on a majority of workers; and more men than women have received pay raises or bonuses since the beginning of the pandemic and the subsequent hybrid work model that transformed the way many people do their jobs. 

These were the findings of ADP Research’s “People at Work 2021: A Global Workforce View,” a survey of 32,471 workers in 17 countries, including more than 8,500 people working specifically in the gig economy.

Findings include:

  • 28% of respondents report having taken on a new role or changing roles due to shifts in the labor market. The number increases to 36% for Generation Z workers. 
  • 64% of the global workforce were negatively impacted by COVID-19, including 28% who lost a job, were furloughed or were temporarily laid off, and 23% who took a pay cut. 
  • 75% of the global workforce made changes or plan to change how or where they live, with that percentage even greater (85%) among Generation Z. 
  • 66% of small and mid-sized U.S. employers have a hybrid work model in place.
  • 68% of workers have received a pay raise or a bonus with 62% of men receiving a bonus or pay raise compared to 50% of women.

Related: What’s behind the Great Resignation? Blame burnout

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According to Martha Bird, chief business anthropologist, global strategy at the ADP Innovation Lab, employees appear to be re-evaluating their priorities amid a disruptive and deadly global pandemic and the fact that work might no longer be the key factor they use to define themselves as individuals.

“The past two years have encouraged many of us to pause and really reconsider ways of thinking and doing that have been ingrained largely by virtue of the fact that we do them over and over again, they’ve become kind of rote and routinized, automatic and presumed,” she says.

Martha Bird, business anthropologist for ADP Research

“Between the global health crisis and thankfully a growing awareness of the historical inequities experienced by racialized communities, people have begun to be either nudged or jolted into questioning some of the assumptions that they’ve held, like, having to get up in the morning and commute into their jobs,” she says.

Workers are beyond seeing themselves as just workers, says Bird. In the past, when she would ask people to describe themselves, she says they would list their jobs first, such as doctor or lawyer, because they were deeply tied to these job roles. 

”Many people are now saying, ‘Well, maybe there are other ways for me to find meaning and purpose in my life. Yes, I need a paycheck but can I scale down in order to accommodate something different?’ ” she says.

As a cultural anthropologist, Bird is seeing the changes happening in the workspace and even in human resources. 

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“I’m really fascinated by what I’m seeing as the changes are relating to emerging practices, attitudes, and cultural norms in the places where we work,” she says. “How we position work in our lives and what it means for our sense of self continues to raise provocative questions around identity and livelihoods.” 

These questions are also fueling the Great Resignation as people examine their values and priorities, says Bird. “What is the measure of a fulfilling life and perhaps even more, what makes me human?” 

Phil Albinus
Phil Albinus
Phil Albinus is the former HR Tech Editor for HRE. He has been covering personal and business technology for 25 years and has served as editor and executive editor for a number of financial services, trading technology and employee benefits titles. He is a graduate of SUNY New Paltz and lives in the Hudson Valley with his audiologist wife and three adult children.