I really enjoy listening to LinkedIn’s podcast, Hello Monday. Recently I caught an episode called “The Great Resignation” (June 20th, 2021), which explored the current phenomenon of American workers resigning from their jobs in droves. Professor Anthony Klotz from Texas A&M University studies resignation, and he coined the term “The Great Resignation” based on studies that show more than 40% of Americans are considering leaving their jobs as we emerge from the Pandemic.
The episode explored how, during the Pandemic shutdowns, we were forced to live in the present moment. We had to navigate remote school, childcare issues, making decisions about whether or not to go to the grocery store, etc. During that period of time, resignations declined, as people were concerned about the future and their income.
Now, we finally find ourselves in a position to be looking toward the future, and we’ve discovered that the rules are changing.
I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge that The Great Resignation phenomenon that I’m talking about is something that mostly affects people who enjoy inherent privilege. There are many people who abhor their jobs but cannot leave or are unwilling to leave for one reason or another. For those who do find themselves in a position to choose, let’s take a look at how The Great Resignation could affect you (and how you can take advantage of it!)
It’s All Up for Grabs
In the past, if someone wanted a job, they could go to a job fair and have a pretty clear understanding of the day-to-day structure of different roles. Accountants mostly sit behind desks, while plumbers are out and about, while customer service reps are interacting with people from nine to five.
But these days, it’s all up for grabs. A role that may have once required a worker to be in the office Monday through Friday might now offer a hybrid structure, with Mondays and Fridays at home and Tuesday through Thursday in the office. There aren’t consistent guidelines, as work from home opportunities often vary based on manager preference or company culture.
The lack of structure is confusing for people and organizations. Eventually, we’ll settle down with some kind of new structure as we define the “new normal”, but for now, everything is negotiable.
“I’m Just Done.”
Jessie Hempel, the host of the Hello Monday podcast, reported that she received over 100 messages from listeners when she asked people to share their stories about The Great Resignation. Guess what? All of them were from women, and all of them were variations on the theme, “I’m just done.”
One woman who was in charge of the employee experience at Nike for over a decade was in for a big surprise when she started working from home. She thought she loved her job, but when the people were all gone, she discovered that she hated the work she was doing. She had convinced herself that she loved the job because she fed off the energy of the other people. She quit her job before finding another position… even though she’s the breadwinner and is married with kids. She just couldn’t go back.
Being forced to work from home for so long really helped people re-evaluate what they want in their lives and what they want from work. Clearly, there are a lot of people who feel out of alignment with their values, their passions, and what the workplace is offering them. This has become a big reason why we’re seeing so many people resign from their jobs all at once.
Pause Before You Leap
I notice this trend among my clients, colleagues, and friends. Turnover is high. Companies cannot find enough workers. People are quitting without having another job. Airlines are canceling flights due to staff shortages. Hotels have no housekeepers. People are starting businesses like flies. Organizations that used to require you to relocate for a job are no longer requiring this because remote work is so common now.
Yes, things are changing very quickly! But before you make a big leap, take a pause. Before jumping headlong into a big change, ask yourself: What do I really want?
- If you’re working a full-time job but you’d rather work 20-30 hours a week, ask for it rather than assuming your organization cannot accommodate your request. Maybe there’s somebody else who wants to go full-time or is willing to do a job share.
- If you want more time off to spend with family, don’t assume that your company won’t accommodate that; perhaps they will in the form of more PTO or unpaid time off.
- If you want a bigger role with more responsibility and more pay, ask for it! One person I know is having great success managing a team remotely and is loving it. With so many positions opening up, the perfect position might be waiting for you at your company if you’re willing to ask for it.
Remember, the rules are changing! Organizations are being forced to reflect on how they will retain employees going forward. They are more likely now than ever to be open to your request. It’s an employee’s market, so if you’re in the mood for a change, this is the perfect time to start asking for what you want.