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Employee Regret After the Great Resignation

  • Human Resources
  • Article
  • 6 min. Read
  • Last Updated: 01/16/2023

woman looking over desk before leaving her job

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • 80% of employees who left their jobs during the Great Resignation regret it.
  • Gen Zers have the most regret about swapping jobs during this time.
  • 68% of employees say they have attempted to get their jobs back, but only 27% of employers have rehired employees that left during this period. 

Making Money Moves

It was a phenomenon never seen before. In 2021, an unprecedented 47 million Americans* quit their jobs to find new work. Hopes were high for better pay, benefits, and work-life balance, with the power resting more with the employee instead of the employer. This workforce migration sweeping the nation was dubbed the Great Resignation and has only recently slowed.

To explore whether employees participating in this mass movement have any regrets, Paychex asked Americans about their job satisfaction after resigning. A survey of 825 employees and 354 employers provides insight into how the Great Resignation has influenced the “Great Regret.” 

High Hopes for a Living

Starting a new job is an exciting part of career building, but it has its challenges. To better understand the consequences for Americans who switched jobs last year, we asked job-hopping employees if they had any regrets, how long it took to get hired, and whether they were satisfied with their decision.

infographic on the great regret of resignation

The Great Resignation not only changed the workplace; it also changed the minds of those seeking better work opportunities. Job-hoppers who left their positions during this time now see that the grass isn’t always greener. In fact, eight in 10 respondents regret leaving their old jobs. Professionals swapping industries are 25% more likely than those who stayed within their industry to feel this way. And compared to other generations, Gen Zers are the most likely to regret their job change.

All respondents are currently employed, but those who left their jobs during the Great Resignation are only 11% more likely to be satisfied with their new salaries than their previous earnings. Perhaps equally disappointing is that it took 50% of respondents three to six months to find a new position. Another 39% searched for a new job for seven months or longer, while only a small percentage (11%) found one within a few months.

Although satisfaction with mental health and work-life balance influenced many resignations, only about half of respondents said they are satisfied with these things in their new workplace. Unfortunately, the youngest workers — Gen Zers — report the lowest levels of positive mental health and work-life balance.

Reminiscing About Work 

Many participants in the Great Resignation have regrets, but what specific issues are they experiencing? What do they miss about their old jobs, and have they tried to get them back?

Infographic: What do employees miss most about the jobs they left and have they attempted to get their old jobs back?

For some people, having a friend at work is important. According to Gallup research, comradery with co-workers can lead to increased employee work effort and retention. Our research shows that women are 31% more likely than men to miss their co-workers when they switch jobs. Co-worker friendships create a sense of community between colleagues, making for a positive company culture — another thing employees missed about their previous jobs. Women are 15% more likely to feel that way than men. 

When it comes to generational differences, Gen Zers are most likely to miss working in the office. And older Americans found that new positions aren’t what they’d hoped for: Gen Xers are 20% more likely than Gen Zers to miss the work-life balance from their previous jobs.

Returning to the Team

To examine the Great Resignation and Great Regret from an employer’s perspective, we asked them how they feel about rehiring job-hoppers and how their business is faring from these recent trends.


Infographic: Exploring the employer’s perspective, how many have rehired an employee that left during the Great Resignation?

Workers who bring talent and harmony back to the workplace can be a great asset, especially for small businesses with few workers to rely on.

Many employers (70%) either want to give or have given people their jobs back, with medium-sized businesses the most likely to have done so already. Over 60% of employers (mostly small businesses) are even willing to offer new benefits to returning employees, like raises, remote work, and flexible hours. 

Some employers would also consider giving them raises, but large-sized businesses were slightly less likely to do this. Large businesses are also least likely to offer new benefits to rehires, with half of them saying they wouldn’t make any such adjustments.

While the terms vary, many businesses would accept former employees back at work. But for others, workplace loyalty seems to keep employers from welcoming them back at all. Nearly a third of employers won’t consider giving people their jobs back, and blue-collar employers are 17% more likely than white-collar employers to feel this way. 

Counting Our Missed Blessings

The Great Resignation has led to much regret by employees seeking new opportunities. It turns out that company culture and workplace loyalty means a lot to employees and employers alike. The good news is there’s hope for job-hoppers who have had a change of heart about their decision to resign. Many employers are willing to rehire people and improve their benefits, too.


To explore how the Great Resignation and the Great Regret have impacted the workplace, we surveyed 1,179 respondents. Of them, 825 were employees, and 354 were employers. This data was fielded from Oct. 10, 2022 through Oct. 11, 2022. 

*Data about the Great Resignation was sourced from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

About Paychex

Paychex provides HR and payroll solutions for businesses of every size, offering simple solutions to modern workplace issues and giving businesses the support they need to thrive.

Fair Use Statement

If the results of this study gave you insight into the Great Resignation and Regret, please feel free to share them. We ask that you only use our findings for noncommercial purposes and link back to this page as a credit to our work.



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* This content is for educational purposes only, is not intended to provide specific legal advice, and should not be used as a substitute for the legal advice of a qualified attorney or other professional. The information may not reflect the most current legal developments, may be changed without notice and is not guaranteed to be complete, correct, or up-to-date.

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