This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

The Great Resignation: A Qualitative Study Examining Turnover During COVID-19




Shannon, Faith A.

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Psychological Sciences

Restriction Status


Restriction Type

Auburn University Users

Date Available



This study examined reasons behind The Great Resignation, a phenomenon that noted the mass quantity with which Americans left their job during the COVID-19 pandemic. Central to this phenomenon is employee turnover. Because COVID-19 was a natural disaster, which can be classified as a traumatic event, this research qualitatively analyzed turnover through the lens of posttraumatic growth theory. The posttraumatic theoretical framework serves as an explanatory mechanism through which employees came to the decision to leave their job. Following the phronetic iterative analysis approach, data from n = 134 participants were analyzed about the assumptive world, rumination, and shifts in priorities. Themes found centered on challenges to employees’ basic assumptions about the world, repetitive thoughts about being an employee during the pandemic, and reasoning behind why they left their job. Implications include gaining insight on how the field can better understand voluntary turnover.