Last September, news outlets began reporting on “The Great Resignation,” a phenomenon that described workers leaving their jobs en masse. In an article for Forbes, Jack Kelly noted that 4.4 million people left their jobs last September. This number climbed to 4.5 Million resignations in November, according to CNBC.
For Jane Palmer*, quitting felt like her only option.
Jane Palmer, 28
If you don’t care and you’re not valuing me as an employee and giving me opportunities to participate and to move up, then it’s no point in me being here and working my butt off.Jane Palmer, former Chef at Logan Square restaurant
Inside her Bronzeville studio, Palmer reflects on her time making pasta for a restaurant in Logan Square. A 28-year-old chef, Palmer was optimistic when she started this job, but that eventually changed. “I didn’t feel included,” she told Rwebel. “It was predominantly white men. It felt uncomfortable at times to be around them.”
Additionally, Palmer said her workload felt overwhelming. According to Palmer, she had to create 400 servings of various types of pasta during her 10-hour shifts. She asked for help, as this was a tremendous workload for one person, and her boss reportedly said “it cost too much, and he didn’t have the money for it.”
While these things made Palmer grow to dislike her job, her resignation ultimately came after she contracted COVID-19. Palmer stated that, “My former boss in my job didn’t care about anything I was going through. All they wanted me to do was rush back to a job where I was talked about and berated.”
After completing her 5-day quarantine, Palmer was still positive for COVID-19, and she asked her job if she could stay home. They denied her request. As these things culminated, Palmer decided to resign.
“If you don’t care and you’re not valuing me as an employee and giving me opportunities to participate and to move up, then it’s no point in me being here and working my butt off…life is more than money,” she said.
Palmer also talked about the fact that she will be 30 next year. While moving into the “next lane” of her life, Palmer wants to “[find] jobs that value me as a person.” Palmer’s sentiment is echoed by data that shows millennials are leaving jobs in the highest numbers. Forbes reported that, “Millennials are more likely to quit than their younger or older colleagues.”
When asked about why millennials like herself are qutting in record numbers, Palmer noted, “They don’t take us seriously, they don’t give us any opportunities; they don’t care about us.” By they, she added, she is referring to older and younger generations. In Palmer’s view, millennials are the “forgotten generation.”
Palmer is not the only millennial Rwebel spoke to about their job satisfaction.
Avery Williams, 27
Avery Williams*, a substitute teacher, trekked through the snow during the February 2 snow storm. In a phone interview, he told Rwebel that he was initially optimistic about his job. He took the role because it was “decent money” and he had the opportunity to help kids.
Yet, Williams’ view of his job changed after he was exposed to COVID-19. “That’s when the disillusionment started,” he said. He notified his job that he was exposed to COVID-19 and they reportedly responded that, because he was fully vaccinated, he could still go into work because he would likely be asymptomatic if he did have the virus.
“They wanted me to work even though I could’ve potentially had the virus and spread it to people,” he noted. However, Williams’ dissatisfaction is not just due to his COVID exposure. Additionally, he is put into the classroom with “little to no expertise” in core subjects, his job places him at multilingual locations, although he does not speak Spanish, and his job schedules him at schools that are far away from his Southside home.
Last week, he worked in the West Ridge community, and his commute took him an hour on public transportation. To get there on time, he had to wake up at 4 AM.
Due to these conditions, millennials are leaving jobs en masse. Williams stated, “Jobs are not taking note of how stressful the job is. It could take a toll on your mental health, and nobody wants to keep going through that.”
Similarly, Palmer talked about her mental health. “You have to find that loving and supportive and inclusive environment,” she advised people considering leaving their jobs. “Just leave.”
While many wonder what is driving millennials to leave jobs in record numbers, unaffectionately dubbed “The Great Resignation,” some millennials have cited mental health and jobs’ COVID responses as their source of dissatisfaction.
“Long term, I see myself happier,” Palmer noted. ~ℝ
*Editor’s Note: Sources have been granted anonymity on the basis that they are still working or may have to apply for unemployment benefits.