Whether you teach kids, tend bar, make sales calls, develop apps, or do whatever else for a living, you may have spent some period of the last two years considering doing something new. The COVID-19 pandemic rewired the way many of us think about the relationship between our careers and the rest of our lives—sparking the “Great Resignation.”
That term, coined by Texas A&M academic Anthony Klotz, describes a historic level of quitting and job changing throughout the country since April 2020, a month when four million people quit—the most since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started tracking resignations in 2000. Several record-breaking months followed, with the latest record set in November 2021 when 4.5 million, or 3 percent of the American workforce, left their jobs.
You might be tempted to believe things played out differently in Texas. After all, doesn’t this state pride itself on stick-to-itiveness, on doing the job right all the way to the end, even if it ain’t all sunshine and Shiners? Well, according to the data, no. Texans are no less likely to depart a gig than residents of anywhere else, with quit rates that are middle of the road among the fifty states. November’s numbers showed a continued alignment with the national trend: 3 percent of the national workforce quit their jobs, compared to 3.2 percent of Texans. At the same time, not all quitters have headed straight for another role—there were 10.9 million job openings nationwide in December, up from 6.6 million in December 2020.
Companies in Texas and elsewhere are paying more these days to attract workers, as well as offering the kind of flexible schedules that once would have been unthinkable. Indeed, Klotz, a professor of business administration and management, says the Great Resignation has spawned a “golden age of business experimentation.” Over the next two to four years, he believes companies will fight it out for workers by offering higher salaries and other incentives to try and capture some who have left the workforce and others who have begun wondering if the turf covering another corporate courtyard just might be greener. “The whole resignation process is often thought of as taboo,” he says. “I think the last eight months has made it more okay.”
As job switching and career reevaluation becomes the norm, I set out to find some of the quitters in Texas to better understand who they are, why they’ve made moves, and what they’re doing next. Here are their stories.
The Restaurant Worker Who Quit to Dethatch
Houstonite James Ward, 34, started as a busboy in the restaurant business when he was just nineteen. He moved around a lot, working jobs on the Kemah Boardwalk and in downtown Houston. But …….