Power Shift: How The Big Quit Is Shaping the Future of Work

TUE, APR 12, 2022 (1:18)

Even as offices reopen and masks come off, one of the most ubiquitous disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic lingers: a profound change in the way we execute, imagine and feel about work. The initial shock of shutdowns and layoffs was followed by a robust rebound and – a shortage of workers. Especially in the service sector, many never returned to jobs with uncertain hours, low pay and a heightened risk of COVID exposure.

Across the economic spectrum people are taking stock of what matters most and reordering their priorities. People are not just changing jobs, but also the way work factors into their identity. “I don’t dream of work,” has become a popular social media hashtag, as has “I quit my job.”

GBH News captured the stories and the spirit of this moment in our series The Big Quit , profiling local people who - by choice or circumstance - have made major changes during the pandemic.

Join us virtually for a discussion moderated by Stephanie Leydon, Director of Special Projects at GBH News, with Leslie Forde, Founder and CEO of Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs, Mark Melnick, Director of Economic and Public Policy Research at the Donahue Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Lauren Jones, Executive Vice President of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable. Together they will examine what happens next in our state as the economy adjusts to changed expectations, new challenges and an empowered workforce.

+ BIO: Leslie Forde

Leslie developed the Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs framework and has used research to inform growth and innovation strategy for over 20 years. She’s held brand management, product marketing and business development roles in consumer technology and products, market research, media and publishing companies.

She launched the Allies @ Work program to help employers retain working parents and create inclusive workplaces where caregivers can thrive.

+ BIO: Dr. Mark Melnik

Dr. Mark Melnik is the Director of Economic and Public Policy Research at the UMass Donahue Institute. Dr. Melnik specializes in demographic, socio-economic, and labor market issues and leads a 15-person team working on variety of economic and public policy research projects informing clients in government, private industry, and the non-profit sectors. In his time at the Institute, Dr. Melnik has served as the principle-in-charge on projects with such clients as the Secretary of the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, the Boston Foundation, the City of Boston, the City of Cambridge, MassDOT, the New England Foundation for the Arts, MassEcon, MassDevelopment, the Boston Private Industry Council, the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development, the Massachusetts Housing Partnership, and the MetroSouth Chamber of Commerce.

In addition, Dr. Melnik serves as the Senior Managing Editor of MassBenchmarks, the journal of the Massachusetts economy published by the Institute in cooperation with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
Before joining the Institute, Dr. Melnik worked as Deputy Director for Research at the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) where he led research teams on demographic and economic research studies as well as analyses used for public policy advisement and decision making with the BRA and the City of Boston. Before joining the BRA, Dr. Melnik worked as a research associate at the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University. As a leading expert in demographic and socioeconomic issues in the Commonwealth, Dr. Melnik is quoted extensively in the media and was appointed to Governor Charlie Baker’s Future of Transportation Commission and the Massachusetts Economic Development Council Board of Directors.

He holds a doctorate in sociology from Northeastern University. His dissertation explored skill and credential mismatches in the greater Boston labor market. He received his master of arts from Northeastern University and his bachelor of arts from Youngstown State University, both in sociology.

+ BIO: Lauren Jones

Lauren serves as the Executive Vice President, focusing especially on policy and communications and working closely with the President & CEO and in collaboration with the Roundtable’s Board and Executive Committee to develop strategies, initiatives, and programs consistent with the Roundtable’s mission.

Lauren has over 15 years of professional experience, spanning local and state government and the private and non-profit sectors, and specializing in economic development, workforce development, communications, and business marketing. Prior to joining the Roundtable, Lauren served as the Massachusetts State Director for Apprenti, leading the national non-profit’s expansion in Massachusetts by working with companies to cultivate and diversify tech talent via registered apprenticeship. During her time in local government, Lauren created and led the Business Strategy Unit for Mayor Walsh’s Office of Economic Development in the City of Boston, supporting business attraction and employer engagement. While working in state government, Lauren held multiple roles during the Patrick-Murray Administration including Director of Policy & Communications for Lt. Governor Tim Murray; Director of Communications in the MA Executive Office of Labor & Workforce Development; and Senior Program Manager of the Economic Development Incentive Program in the Massachusetts Office of Business Development.

Lauren serves on the Board of Trustees for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s New England Chapter. Through her leadership on the Roundtable, Lauren also serves on the Board for the Massachusetts Workforce Association, the Board of Directors for the Boston Private Industry Council, and on the Future of Work Commission. Lauren holds a Master in Public Administration from Northeastern University, and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Providence College.

+ BIO: Stephanie Leydon

Stephanie Leydon is director of special projects at GBH News. She produced the newsroom’s COVID and the Classroom series which offered an intimate look at the lives of three high school seniors navigating their last year of high school and a pandemic.

Stephanie joined GBH News in 2014 as a reporter and was promoted to senior editor in 2018. Her work has aired on NPR, PRI’s The World and PBS Newshour. Before joining GBH News, Stephanie worked as a television reporter and anchor at WLVI-TV in Boston, WMUR-TV in Manchester, New Hampshire and WMGT-TV in Macon, Georgia.

GBH Forum Network