How Gen Z & Millennials Are Fueling The Great Resignation

Oct 19 2021

Yes, The Great Resignation is real. YPulse’s new research looks at how many Gen Z and Millennials have been leaving their jobs, and why…

The pandemic impacted employment for Gen Z and Millennials in many ways. Unemployment for these generations spiked drastically, as companies were forced to cancel internships or lay off workers. Young people’s jobs and prospective careers were affected, and according to the International Labour Organization, workers 15-24-years-old were “disproportionately impacted” by employment losses in the U.S., seeing losses of 8.7% and women in particular experienced unemployment losses of 5% compared to men at 3.9%. YPulse’s own research shows that 35% of 18-39-year-olds lost their jobs due to COVID, while the number of Millennials who reported being employed dropped.

But nearly two years into COVID, a different shift is happening: While employment rates among young consumers  rebounded as the job market recovered,reports of The Great Resignation are dominating headlines as young employees quit their roles in record numbers. According to the Labor Department, the Great Resignation hit a new high over the summer with the number of Americans quitting their jobs jumping to 4.3 million (nearly 3% of the workforce) in August—the highest record since December 2000 and up from 4 million in July. Additionally, hiring hit a speed bump in August and September, with open jobs increasing 62% in the past year.

YPulse’s recent What’s Next For Work trend report explores how the pandemic provoked a monumental change for young people and their careers, and a great re-examination of career goals. Many have left or plan to leave their jobs within the next year, signifying that The Great Resignation is being fueled by Gen Z and Millennials (our stats on exactly how may have done so below). While public-facing industries were the most-affected, employees across a variety of industries have been reassessing their career goals, causing some to quit and find better opportunities. But what are the biggest reasons young employees are leaving their jobs, and how many have actually done so? Here are three stats that show that the Great Resignation is real and why it’s happening among Gen Z and Millennials:

The majority of young employees feel burnt out because of work.
We told you that young consumers felt constantly stressed before the pandemic, thanks to crises like climate change and the 2008 recession—and the global pandemic intensified and brought that to an all-time high. YPulse’s State of Mind trend data explored how young people’s mental health was negatively impacted by the Coronavirus, and one of those sources of stress and burnout has come for their own jobs. Eighty percent of 18-39-year-olds say they have felt burnt out because of work (e.g. mentally & physically exhausted, overwhelmed, stressed out, etc.)—and many factors likely contribute to that. The pandemic changed work demands across industries, making some service jobs more dangerous, demanding, and hostile than ever before. For those with desk jobs who have moved to working from home, work can feel inescapable, with no off button or physical distance, and an expectation of being “always on” increasing. Having a healthy work / life balance is one of the top reasons why young employees stay at a job, but when they feel like they aren’t getting that at a current role or are overworked, of course, it can lead to burnout. But more companies have been acknowledging this burnout and making moves to address it: Bumble announced in the spring that they were giving their employees a paid week vacation to help with pandemic-related stress and burnout, while Nike followed suit in August and gave their corporate workers a week off to “prioritize mental health.” But for many, burnout at their jobs, and their prioritization of mental health and well-being has led to…



More than a quarter of young people have quit or resigned from their jobs in the last year.
Twenty-seven percent of 18-39-year-olds tell YPulse they have quit or resigned from a job in the last year, and of that group 14% have left their positions in the last 6 months. When we ask why they left, “My previous job was not good for my mental health” is the top response, followed by “There was not a healthy work / life balance at my previous job.”  In the face of mounting crises, Gen Z and Millennials  have been changing their lifestyles to cope with stress. Wanting to go into a different field / industry is another one of the top reasons young people tell us they have resigned or quit a job, and in fact, 29% of employed 13-39-year-olds say they have resigned or quit a job to combat stress / anxiety in the last year. Meanwhile, 26% of 18-39-year-olds tell YPulse they have taken time off of work or school, and 19% say they have moved to a new city or state to combat anxiety/stress in the last year.  According to SmartAsset, they are uprooting their city homes and moving to spaces such as Denver, Seattle, and Phoenix—all places with growing economies, and new job opportunities. If brands want to retain current employees or gain new ones, it’s important to offer young talent with benefits that help and support their mental health, and provide the flexibility that they are clearly seeking elsewhere.


Nearly half of young workers are planning to leave their current job in the near future.
There are clear signs that The Great Resignation isn’t over. Forty-six percent of employed 18-39-year-olds say they plan on leaving their job within the next year, with 14% saying they plan to do so within the next three months.Retail and restaurant / food services are among some of the top industries people plan to quit / resign from—and brands should keep in mind that Gen Z is more likely than Millennials to be working in retail and restaurants, which are two of the industries that are most vulnerable to resignations right now due to a several factors, including poor working conditions and low wages. Nearly one in five of Gen Z tell us they work in restaurant / food services, and the Labor Department’s research shows that restaurants, bars, and hotels experienced the largest number of quits in August (up 21% from July), along with the retail and education industries, likely due to workers’ fear of COVID-19 cases that surged due to the Delta variant at the end of the summer. Social media might be inspiring even more young consumers to quit their jobs, with many using TikTok to vent about their toxic corporate work environments or document their resignations, potentially spreading the confidence to leave positions that overwork and undervalue them. But brands should also know that the top reason that young people are planning to leave their jobs is that they can get paid more elsewhere, so while mental wellness is important, many are also chasing better paychecks.  

YPulse Business users can access the full What’s Next For Work trend report and full data here.

Don’t have a YPulse Business account? Find out more here.

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