Stephen Courtright

With the long pandemic coming to a gradual end, many Iowans are considering job changes — and even career changes — as we begin to emerge from the months of isolation.

Stephen Courtright, a professor of management and entrepreneurship at the University of Iowa, says COVID-19 has forced many professionals to sit tight and ride it out but now, they’re getting the itch to make a move.

“They’ve stayed put to reduce uncertainty but now that options are on the table, some of the uncertainty of the pandemic is reduced, people are looking for other options,” Courtright says. Some economists are referring to this phenomenon as “The Great Resignation” as people decide to quit their jobs after assessing their situations and deciding they need something more out of life.

“People do search for meaning and for purpose in their jobs and the pandemic has allowed us to some extent, or forced us perhaps, to really rethink what are our priorities? How do we find meaning? What is it that we really want to do?” Courtright says. “So as we get out of the post-pandemic, people may be seeking opportunities that align a little bit more with how they find meaning and purpose.”

It’s said that it’s always better to look for a job when you have a job, but Courtright says some workers are throwing caution to the wind and they’re giving their two-week notices with nothing else lined up.

“The pandemic has also enabled people to save up a little bit more,” Courtright says. “We haven’t been traveling as much. We haven’t been eating out as much. We haven’t been doing a lot of the discretionary spending that certain people do and it may have enabled them to save up, have a little bit more in store and venture out and take a little bit of a risk.”

The pandemic has made remote working the norm and this summer, some employees are becoming anxious to return to a crowded workplace, while others have embraced working from home and want to stay.

“Some people are simply leaving the workforce, too,” Courtright says. “They’ve said, ‘I’m in a position to retire and I’m not going to go back,’ so we are seeing a little bit more of that but I also think that we’re in a position where a lot of people who are in their current jobs are definitely looking elsewhere.”

One report predicts companies in certain industries may see 25 to 40% of their employees quit in the coming months.