Things to Think About if You're Considering Joining the Great Resignation

Hundreds of tables divided the Fort Bliss Centennial Banquet and Conference Center ballroom into a maze of employers, many of whom were repeat attenders. Event organizer Denise Carothers said they come back every six months because they’ve seen the process work. (Michelle Gordon/U.S. Army photo)

Over the last year, there's been a lot of discussion about what has been called "The Great Resignation." It began in 2021, when millions of Americans made the move. Contrary to recent trends, the biggest uptick of job-hoppers and career-changers was among those in the middle of their working life. In fact, I've heard the movement called "The Great Recalibration," as millions of Americans reassess what's important and what they value.

That seems logical. As a personal finance guy, my hope is that logic, not emotion, is at the center of these decisions.

I've written about the peril of letting your emotions drive your investment decisions. This is no different. From a monetary perspective, there's probably no bigger "investment" decision for most Americans than how and where they earn their livelihood. I know -- leaving your emotions on the sideline is much easier said than done, but given all that is at stake, it's critical.

Should you find yourself yearning to join the Great Resignation/Calibration crowd, here are six financial factors to build into your thoughtful calculus.

1. Vesting Schedule

If your employer or prospective employer provides matching or profit-sharing contributions to your retirement plan, the vesting schedule dictates when that money becomes yours. It could happen all at once when you reach a certain amount of service with the company, e.g., two years of service, or in increments, e.g., 20% after one year of service, 40% after two and so on.

Understanding where you currently stand can help you avoid leaving money on the table as you leave your current employer and help you plan a relaxing retirement. Plus, it's something to consider as you assess a future employer's offerings.

2. Time Off

The ability to recharge your batteries, enjoy friends and family, and jet or drive off to see the world (or your part of it) -- knowing that your paycheck will not be impacted -- is a beautiful thing. Sometimes, time off accrues with time in a position, so don't lose sight of this valuable benefit. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average U.S. employee with one year of service receives 10 days of paid time off.

3. Compensation Structure

A bonus can be great until circumstances, perhaps out of your control, cause it to shrink or disappear. As you consider the green-ness of other pastures, it's important to make sure you're doing an accurate comparison of pay.

4. Matching Contributions Schemes

Honestly, I've always read that word -- "schemes" -- and thought, "I've got to use it." There's nothing negative about this form of employee benefit, but it can vary widely from employer to employer and should be considered as you compare opportunities.

5. Group Life Insurance

According to the life insurance marketing and research firm LIMRA, 48% of workers only have life insurance provided by their employer. Don't lose sight of this as you contemplate a move. What are your conversion options with your current group plan? What does your prospective employer offer? Is it time to look at a commercial policy that isn't tied to your employer?

Life insurance is likely a foundational element of your financial plan. Ensure family decisions about life insurance are part of your calculations as you contemplate changing your employer.

6. Overall Benefits Package Value

This is such a personal perspective. At my age, I didn't see a lot of value when USAA began to offer benefits for adoption and in vitro fertilization. However, I'm sure it was an exciting offering for a lot of folks. My point? Carefully evaluate benefits, what they cost, the elements you use and include all of that in your decision matrix.

Yes, there is a lot that goes into life-altering decisions like the ones workers across the country are making every day. A lot of evidence points to compensation as a factor in seeking change, but not necessarily the factor. As you or those you love contemplate a big move, ensure it's a logical decision based on what's important, now and into the future.

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