The Great Resignation Actually Started Over a Decade Ago

The Great Resignation, also called “The Big Quit”, refers to the higher-than-usual number of employees who voluntarily quit their companies during the COVID-19 pandemic (2020 – 2022). However, data shows that the mass exodus known as the Great Resignation actually started over a decade ago. Research reveals that the rise in quit rates started in 2009 and steadily kept gaining momentum for the next 10+ years.

As leaders, we need to be clear-eyed about the major shift, including the generational shift, in the job market and adjust accordingly. There is an incredible opportunity for our organizations to attract top talent. This is true for employment across sectors and for Boomers and Gen-Zers, Gen-Xers and Millennials alike. Hiring and retaining the most engaged customer service employees—team members who are aligned, inspired, and accountable for their own roles—starts with a greater focus on our workplace culture and the mental health of our people. The happier our employee experience is, the greater the customer service motivation to create a world-class customer experience. 

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What is Quiet Quitting in Businesses?

The pandemic changed the labor market and the way many American workers behave in the workplace. A major consequence of the work-from-home (WFH) era is that a significant percentage of the employees who haven’t joined the Great Resignation bandwagon are disengaged and reluctant to go beyond their regular work hours and duties–a response is known as “Quiet Quitting.” Quiet Quitting refers to employees doing the mere minimum of their job description and nothing more. In 2022, a Gallup survey found that half of the employees are “not engaged” at work and another 16 percent are “actively disengaged.” The ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is now 1.8 to 1, the lowest in almost a decade.

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Unengaged employees are like squatters taking up space in your organization

Another contributing factor to Quiet Quitting is the result of being away from colleagues and the office. Employers struggle with maintaining a strong corporate culture that makes employees feel part of something larger than themselves. Proximity leads to connectivity. A strong emotional connection to your team is very difficult to replicate over Zoom. Quiet Quitting is employees sending a wake-up call to leaders to build better, more rewarding company cultures.

*RelatedThe Canceling of Hustle Culture…Who is Right?

The Flipside of Quiet Quitting: “Quiet Firing”

Unfortunately, “Quiet Firing” is nothing new other than what we are calling it today. Rather than offering opportunities for advancement, Quiet Firing is when employers intentionally treat you badly so that you will leave your job. Some employers avoid providing all but the bare legal minimum to their workers in the hope they will take the hint and quit. Examples of Quiet Firing can include going years without a raise or promotion, being assigned extra “busy tasks” that are beneath your position and interfere with your actual job responsibilities, and having increasingly less access and communication with your direct leader.

Employees Don’t Quit Companies, They Quit…

You most likely finished that sentence with the word “leaders”. I somewhat disagree with the adage, “Employees don’t quit companies, they quit leaders.” This is only partly true. The more correct and complete way to say it is, “Employees don’t quit companies, they quit people.” Employees quit because of the people they work with (co-workers) and for (leaders).

“You can’t hire your way out of a bad culture.”

When rockstars are surrounded by co-workers who are poor performers with bad attitudes, one of two things is going to happen: 1) Your rockstars are going to get the hell out of there and find a new company to work for; high performers hate working with low performers. Or, 2) Your rockstars will gravitate to the average of their co-workers and no longer be high performers. In this second scenario, leaders complain about how a once good employee’s morale has gone down and how they are not performing like they once were.

Then we leaders blame it on how the younger generation has a lack of work ethic, and that all they care about is money. Wrong and wrong. When leaders compromise on who they hire and who they allow staying, they are polluting their employees’ workplace culture. As a leader, you are responsible for the average of the five team members your employees spend the most time with. Audit that!

Team Coyote Ugly Also Happens in Workplaces

The term “coyote ugly” has existed since at least as far back as 1984 as a joking way to refer to an ugly one-night-stand partner. However, it also applies to companies that—by compromising their traditional hiring standardsdo such a bad job of reactively hiring new employees that eventually a leader will look around and ask, “What happened to our culture, who hired all these people?!”

“Stop trying to find great employees, focus on becoming the business great employees find.”

As Leaders, We Need to Do Better

The “Great Resignation”, “Quiet Quitting”, and “Cancel Culture” are not indictments on employees, but rather, business leaders’ lack of focus on truly caring for the people who are under their command. Today employees are more selective than ever regarding who they will work for; they are insisting that companies and their leaders help them live the right life. That is how you build a world-class culture.

According to Tom Peters, best-selling author, and business guru, “Leading is the pinnacle of human achievement. Your #1 task is helping others grow & develop & contribute to their colleagues & communities. Your accomplishment list will be measured by those who went on to be wildly successful in large measure because of the time spent with you.”

Become the First Choice for Potential Employees

Unnamed 11, The DiJulius GroupThe vast majority of the world’s population cannot avoid working during their lifetime. Therefore, it is essential that they find meaning and value in what they do and who they do it for, no matter what industry sector they work in. We only have one life to live. We do not have a professional life or a personal life. It is one life. And if we don’t like what we do, it will be hard to live a great life.

I really like what Jim Clifton, the chairman of Gallup, says: “The real foundation of a life well lived is if you are going to have to work, you need to work someplace and do something that you think is important and makes the world a better place, otherwise it means your life didn’t matter.”  Simply put, career choices are life choices. “Going to work needs to be a rich experience if you want to have a great life on earth.”

Management consultant and author Gary Hamel believes every employee deserves three things from their company: dignity, opportunity, and equity. “That my work matters, I am an important part of the team, I have a chance to grow my skills to contribute more to get better, and equity, I get some fair share of the rewards created by our joint work and have some meaningful upside.” Hamel’s conclusion is that there aren’t enough opportunities for these three crucial elements in one’s life outside of work, to make up for a lack of them within one’s employee experience.

In his commencement speech at Stanford, Steve Jobs gave the graduates great advice: “You’ve got to find what you love. Your work will fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” 

Defining The Customer Service Revolution

The DiJulius Group’s purpose is “to change the world by creating a Customer service revolution.” The way we define the Customer Service Revolution is our own pledge of allegiance:

A radical overthrow of conventional business mentality designed to transform what employees and Customers experience. This shift produces a culture that permeates into people’s personal lives, at home, and in the community, which in turn provides the business with higher sales, morale, and brand loyalty—making price irrelevant. 

As you can see by the words in bold, the Employee Experience Revolution is represented in the CSR definition. 

A radical overthrow of conventional business mentality designed to transform what employees and Customers experience. This shift produces a culture that permeates into people’s personal lives, at home, and in the community, which in turn provides the business with higher sales, morale, and brand loyalty—making price irrelevant. 

To be a great brand, it must build products and services that improve people’s lives. However, it can’t stop there. It also must have a major impact on its employees’ lives. 



“Future generations will have it better as a result of what we are doing today.”



Where All the Workers Went to

New Customer Experience Executive Academy starting in September ’23

Unnamed 46, The DiJulius GroupOur 2023 Class of our Customer Experience Executive Academy (CXEA) that started in January sold out. So instead of waiting till 2024, we are starting a new class in September ’23. We expect this class to also sell out. Don’t delay and register now!

Are you in charge of your brand’s customer experience? Are you currently, or on track to be your company’s Chief Experience Officer (CXO)? It’s time to start learning the methodology applied by world-class companies to create consistently memorable moments that lead to happy customers and happy employees. The Customer Experience Executive Academy (CXEA) is the Harvard of Customer Experience, featuring: 

  • The DiJulius Group’s trademarked X-Commandment methodology
  • How to improve the 6 components of your customer’s experience
  • How to develop a strong Customer Experience Action Statement that brings purpose and meaning to your employees and organization
  • How to recruit and develop a team with high customer service aptitude that aligns with your core values
  • How to build a culture that always goes above and beyond what is expected during interactions
  • How to develop tailored experiential standards for each customer, in each interaction they have with your company
  • How to create systems that ensure consistency among departments and locations
  • How to implement zero-risk systems that avoid service challenges and strengthen customer relationships
  • How to measure your customers’ experience and execute with the data you receive, and
  • Become a world-class Customer Service Experience leader!

*Register for the Class of 2023 Customer Experience Executive Academy 

About The Author

John DiJulius

John R. DiJulius is a best-selling author, consultant, keynote speaker and President of The DiJulius Group, the leading Customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on Customer experience trends and best practices.