It’s Almost Like 2020 Never Ended.

It’s Almost Like 2020 Never Ended.

In the last few months of 2021, The Harris Poll collected data to see how the United States felt entering 2022. As we enter the third year of the pandemic, mass lockdowns are a distant memory, vaccines are readily available and the economy grew at the fastest pace since 1984, but Americans are anxious, uncertain and stressed out.

Let’s take a look at some of the data from the poll:

Ants in Our Pants – More than 20 million Americans quit their jobs in the last half of 2021 and we’re not done. Nearly 1 in 4 Americans reported in the poll that they plan to quit their jobs within a year. An overwhelming majority (70%) planned to give notice before the end of the month. Yes, some older Americans are retiring but the younger the employee, the more likely they are to jump ship. In the Harris Poll, workers age 18-34 were more than twice as likely than their older colleagues to walk out. Some want better working conditions. Others feel burned out. A big chunk want larger paychecks. 

On the Move – More than 4 in 10 (41%) said in the poll they are willing to take a pay cut to move to a more desirable location. Younger generations are leading the way. Less likely to have mortgages and children, 51% of Generation Z and 47% of millennials are planning to move, especially if their work can be done remotely.

High Anxiety – More than half (55%) of Americans said they are very concerned about inflation and being able to afford staples including groceries, gasoline and home energy. This time, the ages are reversed. Generation X and baby boomers are much more likely to worry about inflation than Generation Z and millennials. 

Overwhelmed – two-thirds of American parents say it is an “overwhelming” experience to manage childcare decisions. That number rises to 71% for working parents. Many economists predicted and I think they are accurate in assuming childcare burdens are playing an outsized role in the labor market disruption. 

The omicron surge has not helped. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association, nearly 11% of the 8.5 million cases of COVID in children came in the previous two weeks. 

So, what does this mean for business owners and marketers in 2022? 

Don’t be surprised by continued volatility and disruption in the lives of consumers. Respect consumers for where they are and what they are going through mentally and physically. Clearly, they want to travel, move, quit their jobs, engage in the world but uncertainty, fear, anxiety and inflation are making them hesitant and stressed. 

Meet them on their level. Be ready when they are ready to engage with and buy from your company, but don’t push them too hard. 2020 has to end at some point. Be ready for the positive turn in the road that this pandemic will eventually have to take and be thoughtful, respectful and engaged until we get there.

Worked at Burleson Orthodontics. Attended University of Missouri–Kansas City. Lives in Kansas City, Missouri.