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Office Exodus: Young people are abandoning the regular workday in favor of more satisfying careers

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By Newsvot News - - 5 Mins Read

This year, millions of people across the globe are quitting traditional occupations and opting not to return. This is the highest level of mass resignation witnessed in the United States since pre-pandemic 2019, and the numbers are still climbing. In June, 3.9 million people gave up their jobs. Another 3.9 million were added in July. 4.3 million people in August. 

The figures are even more striking for young employees: roughly a quarter of workers aged 20 to 34 were not considered part of the U.S. labor in September, totaling 14 million Americans who were neither working nor seeking for employment, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For some, it's a case of burnout. 

Others saw the opportunity to refocus on side ventures as the pandemic's strains began to fade. Poor treatment and low earnings became unsustainable for many, especially in a service sector dominated by "zillennials" (people in their late twenties on the cusp of Gen Z and millennial).

Meanwhile, an estimated 10.4 million positions in the United States remain vacant, as this exodus, called the Great Resignation, gives young people time to heal from pandemic burnout and unsustainable working circumstances by making significant life choices.

With a median age of 31.8 years, the leisure and hospitality business has the lowest median age of any industry, and according to Saru Jayaraman, president of One Fair Wage, about half of surveyed service-industry workers expect to leave in the following year. 

"Perhaps among white collar workers, it's just people discreetly departing," Jayaraman says, contrasting this tendency with that of white collar workers trading jobs for "funemployment." 

"They're saying things like, 'I love this industry, but I'm not coming back unless there are permanent wage increases.”

Leaving the office gives a  greater sense of financial comfort 

Young people now have the ability to do so for the first time in their careers. According to Harvard economist Lawrence Katz, workers who had well-paying employment prior to the pandemic have a stronger sense of financial contentment after spending less and saving more over the past 19 months.

 Furthermore, the number of vacant employment may make workers feel more comfortable quitting their jobs, which is counterproductive. Katz stresses that this is about "testing out new things, taking advantage of new chances, and not sticking with the old bargain," rather than "leaving the labor market totally."

The promise of a work-life balance fulfilled

The shift to remote work has also enabled a level of work-life balance that folks in their 20s and early 30s, the first generation in which half of children had two working parents, could never have envisaged. 

This is especially true for millennials, who, according to a Gallup poll from 2020, said they didn't want to return to work full-time, the greatest percentage of any age group. Due to the requirement for childcare flexibility, millennial women are more likely to stay at home. In September alone, about 309,000 women left the workforce. 

Alicia Sasser Modestino, an economist at Northeastern University, adds, "Childcare is an element that people have been underestimating for a while."


The hashtag #corporatemillennial has received more than 64 million views and reveals an undercurrent running across a segment of the population born between 1981 and 1996. This generation of millennials is in the process of rethinking their relationship with work.

Employees in mid level roles between the ages of 30 and 45 have witnessed the biggest increase in departure rates, according to Harvard Business Review. 78% of millennials said they were interested in changing careers in a Harris Poll conducted for Personal Capital over the summer.

According to a MetLife survey, millennial managers are more likely than other generations to claim they're burned out (42%).

Hustle Culture

According to Rahaf Harfoush, author of Hustle and Float: Reclaim Your Creativity and Thrive in a World Obsessed With Work, though the word hustle culture has been used to characterize the glorification of work, it is not a completely new concept. The concept of the much-discussed American Dream is that anyone can achieve prosperity if they only work hard enough.

In her book, Harfoush discusses how productivity began as a framework for large groups of workers accountable for standardized duties in institutions such as the military. Over time, productivity shifted from being a tool for the collective to becoming a tool for the individual.

In 2022, 70% of Gen Z workers are looking for a side hustle

Employees described how the role of work in their lives has altered in Microsoft's 2022 Work Trend Index, a study that evaluated trillions of productivity signals in Microsoft 365, labor trends on LinkedIn, and a survey of 31,000 people in 31 countries. 

The findings highlight these significant shifts, such as the enforcement of hybrid work boundaries, the increased requirement for supporting management, and what employees now consider to be "worth it" in their jobs.

In this poll, 47%stated they are now more likely than before the outbreak to put family and personal life over work. 

According to this new norm, the Great Resignation of 2020 saw 17% of employees leave their positions. In 2021, the percentage had risen to 18 percent.

Personal well-being or mental health was cited as the most common cause for leaving (24%), followed by work-life balance (24%).

The aspects of employment that all job searchers deem "extremely significant" include:

  • A culture of positivity (46% )
  • Benefits to mental health and well-being (42% )
  • a sense of significance and purpose (40% )
  • Hours of work are flexible (38% )
  • Each year, you get more than the customary two weeks of paid vacation time (36% )

These were the same top three priorities for Gen Z, but they added good feedback as a fourth priority and a manager who can assist them improve their career as a fifth priority.

Side hustle as outlet for creativity 

12% of Millenials said their side hustle allows them to pursue a passion or pastime, while 9% said it allows them to develop new skills. This reflects the reality that the appeal of a side gig is its adaptability and capacity to provide you with something other than your "day job."

It can range from photography to copywriting, from delivery to antique clothing sales, and it can be as complex as you like. The goal is to keep it from taking over your free time in order to avoid burnout.