The ‘Great Resignation’ in Contra Costa County

Whether you call it the “Great Resignation” or the “Big Quit,” American workers are leaving their jobs in record numbers. In November 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a record-setting 4.5 million employees nationwide quit their jobs, following several months of similar highs. In the same month, 428,000 California workers voluntarily separated.

Anthony Klotz, the organizational psychologist who coined the phrase “Great Resignation,” offered several reasons for the glut of quits:

  • People who would have normally quit their jobs didn’t during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a backlog of “missing quits” that are now coming to fruition.
  • The stress of the pandemic burned out workers, particularly those in service positions.
  • Employees are reassessing and prioritizing their need for a work-life balance.

The Great Resignation is a double whammy for employers. WDBCCC Executive Director Tamia Brown explains that “small business owners may also feel burned out, and a lack of human capital to get work done only compounds their stress.”

And, Brown adds, the Work Institute’s estimates that replacing employees can cost 33% to 200% of the departing employee’s salary make the levels of turnover unsustainable for any business, let alone small businesses.

As an organization focused on our regional workforce, the WDBCCC is delving into local impacts of the Great Resignation and what we can do to help. On January 31, 2022, we launched the Contra Costa County Employer Survey, a two-minute questionnaire about area organizations’ 2022 hiring plans and desired skill sets.

As of February 14, 2022, 60 people responded to our survey. From this initial response, here’s what we know:

  • 57% of the respondents are currently trying to fill 1-5 positions.
  • 59% of the respondents said they plan to create 1-5 new jobs in 2022, followed by 20% saying they are creating 20+ new jobs.
  • 91% said they do not plan any layoffs in 2022, while 9% are still unsure.
  • 65% of respondents fill vacancies through referrals, while 63% use an employment website, with those two methods being used to fill most vacancies.
  • 28% of respondents cited soft skills as being the hardest-to-find skills, while 24% cited hard skills as being the most difficult to find. The remainder of respondents listed job-specific skills in certain industries, with the health care and restaurant industries receiving more than one mention.
  • 71% of respondents have 50 or fewer employees. That breaks down to 57% with 1-24 employees and 14% with 25-50 people.
  • 88% of respondents are from Contra Costa County, with Alameda County following at 17%.

Additionally, 35% of respondents requested that a WDBCCC business services specialist reach out to them about our employer services. We are heartened by this response, as we are eager to support area businesses to ensure they are competitive in attracting and retaining a quality workforce.

“We are encouraged at the initial strong response to our survey, and we encourage more employers to complete it,” said Brown. “The greater the responses, the more information we have to combat how the Great Resignation impacts our area.”

Take the survey now: Contra Costa County Employer Survey

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