BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Amidst the pandemic, the world is starting to notice the long-lasting changes in society. One of those many changes is what's being referred to as the Great Resignation.
People, for a variety of reasons, are leaving their jobs in large numbers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the end of September, the number of people who quit their jobs was 4.4 million.
One reason Millennials and Gen Z are leaving their jobs is because of mental health and burnout.
The trend amongst this group of workers is to put themselves first and prioritize their mental wellbeing while demanding better-paying jobs with it.
The strategy of leaving a job to demand better does come with criticism from older generations. A lot of people believe that Gen Z is actually just lazy and do not want to work.
Beenne Anglin, Cal State Bakersfield Professor and industrial-organizational Psychologist explained that it is important to look at the generational factors and a lot of Gen Z is transitioning into the workplace in a COVID mindset.
“I don’t think they’re lazy or making up excuses. I think their life experiences have shaken what they expect in the workplace and I don’t blame them. Every generation is different in that,” said Anglin.
While the generation may be going through COVID the question stands, how will leaving the job or refusing to go into the job field make it any better. Anglin said that is a big risk because it will make it harder on Gen Z and while a change may not happen anytime soon it could in the long run.
“I do think the workplace needs to change and evolve along with their upcoming employees. So, the good thing about Gen Z is that a lot of your generation you’re willing to stand up for what you believe and speak up for your rights. and I think as more people do that the workplace will change and shift,” said Anglin.
While it may be a big risk, Gen Z and Millennials are saying it’s worth it, if it means getting out of subpar work conditions.
Callie Sandrini, a Bakersfield native took that risk when working at a coffee shop in Fresno.
“I found out my employer wasn’t paying a lot of his employees properly. He wasn’t paying people overtime even though he was obviously scheduling so. Positioning a lot of people outside of their job roles,” said Sandrini.
In the local coffee shop, Callie claims they were forced to work overtime however were not getting overtime pay and struggled to get time off. Even in the case of tragedy.
“A co-worker of mine had a very young child traumatically die in their family. He said well that’s no excuse, you should still be here at work,” said Sandrini. “To work for 10 to 12 hours, burning her ragged all day every day.”
After Sandrini’s co-worker was denied her time off to grieve the loss of a family member the manager mentioned to Callie he might have to let the co-worker go due to her “no work ethic.”
This is what Sandrini saw as the last straw. The mixture of poor treatment, being overworked, and little pay was too much.
Even after leaving the coffee shop she still had to deal with issues when she did not receive her final paycheck.
She asked her employer over and over again when she could come to pick up her last check. There was no response for weeks until he told her he mailed it. This was amid the pandemic where mail was constantly being lost. She never got her final paycheck.
Sandrini said she filled out a claim with the California Labor Department that was never followed up with. She decided to just accept the loss.
The resignation is also happening in Bakersfield where Geniece Trevino left a local bookstore after eight years.
“I don’t feel like they were valuing their employees for their knowledge and work. They don't necessarily hire on a passion basis which is really important in that line of work. You can’t get someone to sell a book if they don’t read,” said Trevino.
Trevino started as a bookseller and ended as a Commercial Cluster Specialist where she handled the inventory of a specific region. One thing she noticed when working was the lack of technology skills managers above her had yet, still getting higher pay.
“It’s weird being a millennial working for someone older than you and having to show them how to send an email. Having to show them how to scan something which is all stuff that we have to do in our daily workspace and knowing that they get paid higher than you,” said Trevino.
Over the years of working there, Trevino said the stress just got worse every year. Come the last year, she said she couldn’t do it anymore leading to her leaving earlier this month.
“I think it boils down to, what they were willing to pay you for the amount of work that they required didn’t equate anymore,” said Trevino.
Similar to Sandrini, Trevino said tasks would be added to their job descriptions or they’d be required to do things outside of their roles. For Trevino, it just didn’t make sense to load more on the current employees after cutting out jobs due to the pandemic without a raise.
This is a big reason why Millennials and Gen Z are leaving their jobs. The increase in tasks is taking a toll on their mental health. Trevino agrees that the tasks and mental health go hand in hand.
“I feel like they go hand in hand. With the adding, of tasks that definitely creates a stress on your mental health and then work just becomes your life and I think that is not what we aim for anymore,” said Trevino.
Trevino feels if people were getting paid based on their skill set they would be more likely to stay in jobs.
“Definitely pay people based on their skill set and the tasks that they’re doing. You’re paying for broad employment and then you’re just adding on these extra tasks,” said Trevino.
One area she sees this happen often is that instead of hiring a social media marketer they will just add it on to the employees making minimum wage, although typically social media marketers make a lot more.
Trevino and Sandrini both encourage anyone struggling with this and contemplating leaving for better to do it and know their worth.
“Know your worth. Definitely know your worth and what you bring to the table and the company. Don’t be afraid to negotiate and not compromise. That is definitely something I learned,” said Trevino.
Sandrini and Trevino are now both in professions they enjoy more. Sandrini is a biomedical equipment technician in Arizona where she repairs medical equipment. Trevino is running her publishing company full-time and working as a social media marketer for other companies.