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The New Work Ethic: From Remote Offices To "The Great Resignation"

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Working remotely from home has been the norm for tens of millions of Americans during the pandemic. Now, many are choosing not to return to the office. (Wikimedia Commons/Pixabay)

In April and May of this year, 7.6 million people quit their jobs. It’s been dubbed The Great Resignation. In a poll released last month, Gallup reported that almost half of employed Americans are thinking about changing jobs. The report suggested that The Great Resignation might better be called The Great Discontent.

This, despite some very shaky economic times caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Congressional Research Service, in the first four months of 2020, as COVID 19 took hold, the American economy shed 22.1 million jobs. Congress has stepped in repeatedly with massive funding bills to stabilize families and businesses across the economic spectrum. As of today, 13 million of those jobs have been recovered, but there are still more than 9 million people out of work.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t jobs out there. It’s just that we can’t seem to match the openings with the people who are available. Many industries - from trucking to retail, from health care to hospitality - are experiencing severe labor shortages.

And more and more companies are finding it hard to keep workers who have grown increasingly dissatisfied with their jobs.

What effect has remote work had on these historic trends? How are people thinking about work differently, and what are people expecting that work will offer them in their lives, in addition to a paycheck?

To help us answer these questions, we've invited two leading business economists to join us today.

Tom's first guest is Dr. Robert McNab, an economist on the faculty of Old Dominion University, where he directs the Dragas Center for Economics and Policy. Professor McNab joins us on Zoom.

Then, Tom speaks with Dr. Tsedal Neeley. She is the Naylor Fitzhugh Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, and the author of Remote Work Revolution: Succeeding from Anywhere.  

Professor Neeley also joins us on Zoom.

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Dr. Robert McNab is an economics professor at Old Dominion U.; Dr. Tsedal Neeley is a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School (credit: ODU/HBS)

How are you feeling about your job, and how have those feelings changed during the pandemic? We welcome listeners to the conversation...

Host, Midday (M-F 12:00-1:00)
Malarie is Midday's Supervisory Producer.
Rob is Midday's senior producer.