Why People Are Quitting Their Jobs, What It Means to Marketing

Written By Michael Carrington 

Updated on April 11, 2024

Written By Michael Carrington 

Updated on April 11, 2024

A lot of people are quitting their jobs.

According to the most recent U.S. Pulse Survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), 65% of American workers are looking for a new job.

There are two-thirds of U.S. workers in that group!

On top of that, companies all over the world are having trouble finding workers. Latin America and the Caribbean will have a hard time getting jobs again. More people are leaving the UK than coming to live and work because of the new rules that came into effect after Brexit.

Beginning pay for the Class of 2020 were at all-time highs, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

It's a great time to look for work. The job market is tough right now.

Let's talk more about what this means for brands and businesses in this article.

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Employees Want More Money, Movement, and Meaning

Eighty-eight percent of U.S. executives said they are seeing higher than normal turnover.

In PwC’s report, the top four reasons employees are looking for a new job include:

  • Compensation
  • Benefits
  • Career Advancement
  • Flexibility

This doesn't surprise me. As soon as someone has the chance to improve their job duties, medical care, pay, or working conditions, they take it.

These four reasons for changing a job for a new one aren't just true in the U.S.

But I don't believe this is the whole story.

Yes, people do want more money, rewards, and freedom. However, they also want to do work that they believe in.

A 2018 study in the Harvard Business Review caught my attention. It found that 90% of workers would take less pay to do work that matters more to them.

This is based on the idea that workers' basic wants are met. But this tells me that when workers don't have a job with meaning and purpose, they value money and freedom (the result). But when a job gives people meaning and purpose, they put the work (the result) first.

This trend in how people think and feel happens all the time in marketing.

People choose commoditized goods and services that don't have any meaning or value when they have to choose between them. They choose cost and ease. People are ready to spend more time, money, and effort on a product or service that gives them meaning, purpose, and a sense of who they are.

When it comes to staff happiness, engagement, and retention, meaning is very important.

The Three Ingredients of Meaningful Work

If you asked 10 people to describe "meaningful work," they would give you 15 different names. This sounds a lot like explaining what marketing is!

I was interested in how psychology and other researchers describe it.

There is a wide range of things that inspire and drive people, but in the scientific community, "meaningful work" means work that is "important, worthwhile, and valuable."

Blake A. Allan, PhD from Purdue University got this meaning from Martela & Pessi, 2018, May, Gibson, & Harter, 2004, and Pratt & Ashforth, 2003.

Allan and his coworkers did research and tests that showed that being "important, worthwhile, and valuable" means doing work that helps other people. When they asked American workers what they thought made their jobs important, they said "helping others" and "contributing to the greater good."

What Allan said was that "these results suggested that helping others is a central driver of meaningful work..."

How to Increase Meaning in Work

Due to the Great Fire of London in 1666, St. Paul's Cathedral was lost. The famous builder Sir Christopher Wren was officially given the job of rebuilding the big church.

An old story says that Wren was watching bricklayers work one day.

He stopped and asked a few of the workers what they were putting together.

First one said, "My job is to lay bricks. I'm putting down bricks to feed my family."

"I'm a builder," said the second. "I am building a wall."

The third one said, "I build cathedrals. I'm putting together a church for God."

Three people. One task. Three very different levels of what life is all about.

Allan's study shows that people can do more meaningful work when they are given specific tasks and are told directly how those tasks will affect other people.

People took part in one study and were told to type two capital letters as many times as they could in five minutes. They made more money when they typed more characters.

  • There was a "personal condition" for the first group: they got to keep the money they made.
  • A "significance condition" says that the second group gave the money to the American Red Cross.
  • Another group gave money to the Red Cross. But before they started their job, they watched a video about someone whose house was burned down and how the Red Cross helped them (a "beneficiary contact condition").

People in Group 1 who kept the money said the task was less important. People who watched the video and then did the job said it was the most meaningful. Why? Group 3 could see how what they were doing helped other people.

This is what the old story about the bricklayers teaches us so beautifully.

For personal reasons, the first two bricklayers worked for themselves. The third one worked for a cause bigger than himself (beneficiary touch condition). He could see a clear link between building things with bricks and serving God and other people.

Meaning and Jobs as a Competitive Advantage

That means we're back where we began.

A lot of people want to find new jobs. This migration is making it harder for the CMO to give customers uniform experiences. And it's making it harder for CHROs to keep good employees.

Some people are looking for a new job because they need to pay off their school loans and other debts (personal condition).

Others want to change jobs because the one they have now doesn't have any value. Their work doesn't make sense to them in terms of how it helps people and the environment (beneficiary contact state).

As bosses, marketers, and people who hire people, it's our job to help them see how their work helps other people. We can also do this for our clients.

My company makes a video for its employees every month that tells the story of a charity that we help by volunteering or giving money to. It's something we make a point of saying: our employees help groups like the one shown around the world just by doing their jobs. And I always tell them to get in touch with me if they want to help out in the neighborhood.

If people choose to work for us, I hope they won't need to look for another job because they know their work helps other people. Which gives us an edge over our competitors. Which, hopefully, helps us grow and make money. Which eventually drives our company's kindness and impact on the community. Which leads to an overall advantage.

How about you?

As a storyteller and marketing worker, how do you help the people you work with see the connection between the things they need to do and how they can help others?

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Michael Carrington


I am an entrepreneur, international consultant, and founder of successful business brands in the U.S. and Australia. With over 13 years of multinational business experience, I focuses my time on helping others achieve wealth and financial abundance by leveraging the power of digital entrepreneurship.

I am passionate about entrepreneurship, mentoring, and showing others how to earn a lucrative income with online and offline brand verticals.

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