Employee Migration Now Enters the Great Remorse Phase

First, it was the Great Resignation, also known as the Big Quit and the Great Reshuffle. Beginning in early 2021, workers began resigning at a high rate, looking for more opportunities and thinking the grass was greener on the other side of the fence.

A survey by Pew Research listed reasons for the Great Resignation: 63% quit because of low pay, 63% quit because they felt there were no opportunities for advancement, and 57% left their jobs because they felt disrespected at work. The quits rate reached a 20-year high in November 2021 and shortly thereafter began the Great Regret.

By the end of 2021, a majority of younger workers who switched jobs regretted their decision. A survey by The Muse, a corporate and career research company, surveyed 2500 millennial and Gen Z job seekers. 72% said they had Shift Shock, a realization that their new jobs or companies are different from what they were led to believe during the interview process.

The Muse survey is not alone. In March 2022, a Harris Poll determined that more than a third of those surveyed regretted quitting their old job; that in their new position their work-to-life balance was worse, their new job was different than they had been led to believe, and that they actually miss the culture of their old job.

In July 2022, a report from Joblist, an employment talent recruiter, said a quarter of workers they talked to who quit during the pandemic regretted their decision.

Now, at the end of 2022, we’ve entered the Great Remorse. And what are workers remorseful about? They’re sorry they didn’t start looking for another job sooner. A new Harris Poll surveyed 2000 U.S. job seekers and asked them about their experience with the labor market. More than 70% said it’s been harder to find a job than they thought it would be.

  • 72% believe hiring managers are ignoring their applications and failing to schedule interviews.
  • Two-thirds think finding a job would have been easier in 2020 or 2021.
  • 60% say their job search has dragged on for more than six months and they’ve applied for more than 50 positions.
  • 51% say they would take any job offer that comes along.


There has been a definite shift in who’s in control of the job market. Post-pandemic, employers couldn’t find enough people to fill all their positions and job seekers could name their own terms. Now, with businesses experiencing astronomical inflation, layoffs being announced from major corporations down to mom-and-pop shops and unemployment creeping up, it seems that it’s become an employers’ market.

One reason prospective employees may be finding the job search so difficult is the increasing trend of hiring boomerang employees, workers who are rehired by a previous employer.

In the past, quitting was like burning all the bridges between you and your employer and your name was never to be spoken again in polite company. And if you did try to come back, there was a stigma attached to you with the perception that you just couldn’t make it on the outside of your former employer’s culture, and if you came crawling back—TOO BAD! That’s changed.

The trend of hiring boomerang employees gained a lot of traction in 2021 during the Great Resignation when employers had so many open positions. In fact, many employers began actively recruiting former employees and bringing them back into the fold. LinkedIn was one of those companies, hiring twice as many boomerang employees in 2021 as in did in 2019.

Cornell University research lists some of the advantages of hiring boomerang employees. It shows that boomerangs are better able to:

  • Familiarize themselves with the social systems that underpin the workings of a company culture.
  • Navigate hierarchy and processes—especially in large organizations.
  • Onboard faster and more effectively.
  • Often outperform a new hire—even those with better qualifications.


It all started with the Great Resignation, moved into the Great Regret, and has now entered the Great Remorse phase. We’ll have to wait to see if there are more phases to come.

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