Future of Work

The Great… Reshuffle, Re-invention, Reassessment? 3 reasons workers are quitting and heading to different sectors

A worker walking with two work bags. Globally, 40% of workers say they plan to leave their job in the next 3-6 months.

Globally, 40% of workers say they plan to leave their job in the next 3-6 months. Image: Unsplash/Romain V

Victoria Masterson
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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  • Only about a third of workers who have quit their job in the past two years have returned to the same industry, according to McKinsey.
  • It identifies three groups of dissatisfied workers who are leaving traditional employment: reshufflers, re-inventors and re-assessors.
  • These workers are making different choices, including gig work, part-time roles, self-employment, entrepreneurship and caring at home.

We’re quitting our jobs in record numbers. Why? Because we’re switching industries, trying new things and taking time out.

These are some of the trends fundamentally reshaping the traditional world of work, says management consultancy McKinsey.

In a new analysis called “The Great Attrition is making hiring harder”, the company identifies three broad groups of dissatisfied workers who are quitting traditional employment: reshufflers, re-inventors and re-assessors.

Reshufflers are moving to different industry sectors. Re-inventors are starting their own businesses or trying non-traditional work like temporary, gig or part-time roles. Re-assessors are quitting because of their life demands, including caring for children or elders.

Here are some of McKinsey’s key points.

Workers worldwide want to resign

Globally, 40% of workers say they plan to leave their job in the next 3-6 months. But discontent is much higher in some markets.

In India, 66% of workers expect to quit their job soon. This is well above levels in Australia, Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, McKinsey notes. Singapore has the second-highest level of job discontent among the markets surveyed, at 49%.

A bar chart showing the likelihood that respondents will leave their job in the next 3-6 months.
India and Singapore have higher levels of likely job movers than other major markets. Image: McKinsey & Company.

Workers across these six nations showed a “consistently high desire for work that is better paying, more satisfying, or both,” McKinsey says. They also believe they’ll find a better job somewhere else.

Some workers, though, are quitting not just their jobs but the workforce entirely, as they feel they need a break. However, they are confident about finding another job when they want to.

The jobs with the biggest quit rate

Only about a third of workers who have quit in the past two years have returned to the same industry. This means employers can no longer assume they’ll fill empty slots with “workers similar to the ones who just left”, McKinsey says.

A graphic showing the majority of people quitting their jobs in the past two years are not returning to the industries they left.
Workers are switching industries, leaving the workforce or opting not to return to their job sector. Image: McKinsey & Company

In finance and insurance, 65% of workers changed industries or left the workforce. And the attrition rate has been even higher in public and social services, at 72%.

In travel, retail and healthcare, 18% of workers who quit their jobs have left the workforce completely rather than go back to the same industry. These areas were hit hard by the pandemic, and may take “some time” to recover, McKinsey suggests.

Workers with sought-after skills – like data science and computer programming – will find it easier to switch industries, McKinsey adds. Remote working has also made it possible to get hired overseas without moving countries. And job hopping or having gaps in your résumé are less of a problem these days.

A graphic showing status of respondents who had quit their job between April 2020-2022.
Some job sectors are seeing more people leave for different industries. Image: McKinsey & Company.

‘Non-traditionalist’ workers are harder to hire

McKinsey also defines three “non-traditionalist” personas who need more than good pay and perks.

These do-it-yourselfers are generally between 25 and 45 years old and range widely from self-employed to gig or part-time workers, to those full-time employed in non-traditional roles.

Stress, bad managers, and a lack of control are some of the reasons they have decided to do their own thing. “This group wants flexibility above all else,” McKinsey says. Meaningful work and compensation are also key.

Another group McKinsey identifies is “idealists”, which it says tend to be 18 to 24-year-olds without dependents or mortgages. Many are students and part-time workers. Pay is far lower down their list of priorities. Instead, they value flexibility, career advancement, meaningful work and people who are supportive.

Meanwhile, “caregivers” are based at home and have quit traditional employment because it didn’t give them enough flexibility to look after children, parents or themselves, McKinsey says. They’re generally aged between 18 and 44, and more of them are women than men. Alongside decent pay and flexibility, they need to see the health and well-being of workers being supported before they’ll consider returning to the workplace.

A graphic showing what would it take to bring three nontraditionalist personas back to an original job.
Pay and perks aren’t enough for non-traditionalist jobs. Image: McKinsey & Company.

Investing in social jobs

The need to invest in social jobs across education, healthcare and care was a key theme at the World Economic Forum’s 2022 Annual Meeting in Davos in May.

In a modelling exercise based on the US economy, the Forum calculated that investing $1.3 trillion to create new jobs in teaching, personal care and healthcare would deliver a return of $3.1 trillion in productivity growth.

The findings set out in the white paper Jobs of Tomorrow: The Triple Returns of Social Jobs in the Economic Recovery, suggest 10 million new jobs would be created in the social sector, as well as nearly 1 million jobs in other sectors.

Other themes discussed across 13 Davos sessions on the future of work, jobs and skills included how to create a more flexible, hybrid work environment, and how to improve the health and happiness of workers in a more fluid jobs market.

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