Featured Article: “How do they say the economic recovery? “I quit.”
The US economy is in the throes of what has been called the great resignation. In September, more than 4.4 million workers voluntarily left their jobs, the highest number in two decades the government followed. Across all industries including healthcare, education, retail, food service and child care, people say goodbye to their employers, sometimes even go out in the middle of a shift.
In this lesson, you’ll explore why workers are quitting their jobs, how the pandemic is changing attitudes about the nature of jobs, and what all of this means for the future of the workplace. In the Going Further activities, we invite you to share your own goals and work experiences and to interview and profile someone else about their work.
Were you previously employed? If so, what was the experience? Was it fulfilling? Well paid? Boring? Have you ever thought about quitting smoking? Or do you generally think it’s more important to stick it out, even if a situation isn’t always perfect?
With a partner or in a small group, brainstorm two lists based on your own experiences and those you have heard from family and friends. Title of the first list Reasons to stay in a job. Title the second Reasons for quitting a job. Suggest as many reasons as possible for each list. When you’re done, share your lists with the class and together compile a common list of ideas.
Then, before reading the article, discuss one additional question as a group: Why do you think so many people are quitting their jobs? now? What do you think is causing a âgreat resignationâ at this point in history?
Questions for writing and discussion
Read the featured article, published in June, then answer the following questions:
1. Why does the article begin with the story of Justin Hoffman, who worked as a marketing director at an orthopedic practice in Ohio? What does this illustrate about current trends in the US economy and workforce?
2. What are the reasons American workers quit their jobs in the past year, according to the article? How do these reasons compare to the list you created during the warm up? What new reasons could you add to your list?
3. What role has the coronavirus pandemic played in the rise in resignations across the country?
4. How have employers responded to this wave of quits and the growing labor shortage?
5. Why did 24-year-old Matt Gisin quit his job as a graphic designer at a health and wellness company? What does it reveal about how workers are rethinking their work, life and purpose priorities?
6. What is your reaction to the article? What story, quote or statistic has left its mark on you? Does it make you change or question your perspective on your own work and future career?
seven. What are the implications of the âGreat Resignationâ for the future of work? Do you think this is a temporary phenomenon or do you think it is part of a lasting change in people’s expectations of work? Predict: How will work be different in 2030? 2050?
Option 1: Share your thoughts, experiences and opinions about the job:
In a related student opinion question, we ask, “How important is having a ‘dream job’ to you?” Based on Farhad Manjoo’s “Even With A Dream Job You Can Be Anti-Work” column.
If you would like to participate in a conversation with other teens about work and its meaning in your life and in American society in general, please share your thoughts in the comments section.
Option 2: Interview someone about their work experiences
Imagine you’ve been hired by The Times to write an article about the experiences of American workers. Who will you profile and why? What questions would you ask? How might these experiences inform and engage Times readers?
You can choose to spotlight someone who loves or hates their job; a person earning a minimum wage or a six-figure salary; a young person starting out in the world of work; or a 50 year career veteran.
Brainstorm a list of questions you could ask to learn more about the person’s experiences. For example, you might ask: what do you love most about the job? The least? How has the pandemic affected your professional life? Have you ever quit a job? What would make the job better for you – and for the other people at your job? What life lessons have you learned while working? What advice would you give to young people as they reflect and imagine their future work and career?
Want more lessons of the day? You can find them all here.