“A sense of workplace disaffection and restlessness started growing for many Americans in the early stages of the pandemic.” E. Goldberg, The New York Times, Jan. 23, 2022
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
Excerpt: You Quit. I Quit. We All Quit. By Emma Goldberg, The New York Times, Jan. 23,2022
“Something infectious is spreading through the work force. Its symptoms present in a spate of two-week notices. Its transmission is visible in real time. And few bosses seem to know how to inoculate their staff against this quitagion.
It catches quickly. ‘There’s a shock when you see multiple people leaving — it’s like, oh, is there something I’m not seeing?’ said Tiff Cheng, 27, who left her job in digital marketing in July, along with five of her close friends at the 40-person agency. ‘Is it my time to leave as well?’ Quitting rates were high in August, September and October. Then, according to Labor Department data, they climbed even further: More than 4.5 million people left their jobs voluntarily in November, a record high in two decades of tracking.
Economists explained the numbers by noting that competition for workers led to better pay and benefits, driving some to seek out new opportunities. Psychologists have an additional explanation: Quitting is contagious…A sense of workplace disaffection and restlessness started growing for many Americans in the early stages of the pandemic…Career coaches, meanwhile, worry that some people are being too easily influenced by the behaviors of their roaming colleagues.
Kathryn Minshew, chief executive of the Muse, a job search site, warns clients that a single employee’s desire to leave a company shouldn’t have too much bearing on the decisions that friends make…That Pied Piper trail won’t always lead people to better options, and Ms. Minshew advises workers to assess their companies with the hyper-individualized approach they might take to building relationships.”
NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.
Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 60 minutes.
Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.
Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos
Directions: Examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. Examine any photos, then create a list of words and ideas that you and your group members think might be related to this article.
Directions: Try to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. You use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- Something infectious is spreading through the work force.
- Its symptoms present in a spate of two-week notices.
- In two decades of tracking the highest number of people leaving jobs was 4.5 million.
- Psychologists have an additional explanation: Quitting is contagious.
- Quitting begets more quitting.
- One worker’s decision to leave is especially likely to inspire others to leave.
- In a recent poll more than 21,000 LinkedIn members left their jobs after seeing other workers leave.
- The office has long been a petri dish for infectious behavior.
- Employees also mimic the nutritional patterns of people they sit with in the cafeteria
- When the people you know, like and respect are leaving a job, you think maybe the grass is greener somewhere else.
Grammar Focus: Word -Recognition
Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.
For employers, replacing/replaced just one quitter is/are a straightforward task. But replacing several, or even dozens, is far most/more challenging, and the interim period tends to leave/left existing staff with a heaviest/heavier load, while recruiters field awkward questions about what’s fueling all the departures. With quitting/quit rates soaring, some executives are wondering how to lifts/lift morale.
Reading Comprehension Identify The Speakers
Directions: Read the following quotes from the speakers in the article. Then identify the speakers.
- “It catches quickly. There’s a shock when you see multiple people leaving — it’s like, oh, is there something I’m not seeing?”
- “Quitting begets more quitting, a challenge that employers can’t always solve with raises or perks. Even a single resignation notice can breed a hot spot.”
- Ms. Cruz had grown disgruntled with the hallmarks of work life: “Meetings that could have been an email and lack of control over her schedule.”
- “It’s a huge decision. If you Google how to resign from your job, there’s lots of conflicting guidance.Those answers are not in a company handbook. It makes sense people reach out for sounding boards from trusted others.”
- She made the leap after seeing two of her teammates resign. She went from making $2,100 a month, spending days on her feet setting up cots for nap time and begging children to wear their masks, to making as much as $8,000 monthly while dictating her own schedule, she said. She realized something now viscerally clear to many child care providers: In her work at the school, the mismatch between strain and pay had been stark.
- “When one person announces their resignation, there are usually some questions from their colleagues and workplace friends. Where are you going? Why are you leaving?”
Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing
Directions: Have students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards, students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.
- Have you or someone you know left your job within the past two years? Please explain why or why not.
- According to the article, how many people left their jobs voluntarily in November?
- According to psychologists, why is quitting one’s job contagious?
- What is “turnover contagion”?
- What information did Will Felps and his team of researchers find out?
- What were the results from a recent LinkedIn poll involving more than 21,000 members?
- The workplace has been the place for what other types of infectious behavior?
- In your opinion, do you think so many people have left their jobs due to the pandemic? What other reasons might motivate this behavior?
- List three new ideas that you’ve learned about the topic from the reading, two things that you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you would like to know that the article did not mention. Share your responses with your class.