MJ Mayes wanted everyone on TikTok to see it happen. She filmed herself in the minutes leading up to the call with her human resources representative when she broke the news that she was leaving the company.
“When I posed my video, I got a wide range of comments,” Mayes told NBCLX. “A lot of older generations were leaving comments like, ‘Good luck on getting a new job,’ ‘Oh, just another entitled millennial who doesn’t appreciate anything they have,’ and, ‘I can’t believe you did that.’ Very negative and projecting comments about how you’re not in your right mind."
"With the younger generation, we no longer have to be stuck in a place we don’t want to be stuck in anymore," she added.
Mayes encouraged others to use hashtags like #QuitTok or #QuitMyJob when posting about moving on from their jobs. She believes the more people who share their decision publicly, the less taboo making a career change during the pandemic will become.
Mayes, an MBA who had a six-figure paying medical sales job, left that career to start a TikTok consulting business and a virtual coworking space. Depending on whom you ask, she and millions of others who have voluntarily left their jobs in the last few years are either acting rash or being courageous. Maybe it's something in between.
"I’m not the expert on how to quit your 9-to-5. I probably did it in a way that was too rash where I didn’t have enough saved. I didn’t really have a backup plan. I wouldn’t recommend doing it exactly how I did, but I wouldn’t change it now,” Mayes said. “I’m just here to inspire. I’m here to give out this message of hope. I know we’re in a pandemic, but if you want to do something badly enough, you can. ... You can always change careers no matter what age you are."
The term ‘Great Resignation’ was first coined by Professor Anthony Klotz at Texas A&M University during an interview with Bloomberg News after he noticed nationwide voluntary quits going up significantly. The government began tracking voluntary quit stats two decades ago.
The latest data from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics shows 4.5 million people quit their jobs in November 2021. That’s 3% of the total workforce in one month. From June 2021 to November, more than 25 million Americans quit voluntarily.
The food services, leisure and hospitality and retail trade industries have been the most affected industries — not surprising considering how those employees fared during the height of COVID outbreaks.
"Actually having information and experiencing things, living through things, leads to a very different way of looking at the world, a very different neurophysiological composition of our brain and then ultimately very different decision making," explained Ulrike Malmendier, a professor and economist at University of California Berkeley.
In a recent paper, Malmendier argues that what we've lived through during the pandemic matters more than salaries, benefits and job descriptions when thinking about future employment. She hopes that when those who've recently left jobs find new ones, their new employers will pay more attention to what motivated them to quit in the first place. Ideally, she wants “changed” employees to result in “changed” employers.
Let's say you’re in a similar spot. To quit or not to quit?
If you think it’s time, LinkedIn offers these four steps to quit the right way:
- Leave your workplace better than you found it.
- Rev up your network.
- Set your replacement up to win.
- Exit well.
Additionally, financial experts recommend thinking about your savings, especially if you don’t have a new job lined up or are going out on your own. Consider what benefits you might lose, such as health insurance.
"People are now able to look around and evaluate what they're doing, how they’re spending their time and start daydreaming about if there might be something better out there," Mayes said. "The times are definitely changing, and this is something that’s available to people that really hasn’t been before."