For months now, we've been hearing about the great resignation. As society starts emerging from 12-18 months of lockdowns and working from home, there is - unsurprisingly - a trend of people leaving their jobs, often without something secure lined up. Some have decided to return to study whilst others (such as myself) have decided to take a short break, and bank on having a number of choices reveal themselves in the coming month.
Indeed, just scrolling through my LinkedIn feed yesterday, I spotted a couple of posts from people in my extended network saying things like:
"I've made a tough decision to say farewell ... So, where am I off to? Well, I don't know yet! My new adventure is still unfolding, even to me... looking for the right fit, a place where I can add value and make a sustainable difference with my skill set... it felt right to close this beautiful chapter before starting a new one."
"I have always been so proud to work at XXX and always felt safe, supported and enabled. But not us the time to take a risk and try something new. ...Time for a small break and onto the next opportunity."
In a way, it's a comfort to know that it's not just me that is doing this!
And it's certainly not a reflection on my previous employer. I was talking to a friend recently who told me that they were just exhausted, and wanted to do something different, but also didn't have the energy to learn a new job from scratch right away. And with this exhaustion, they weren't in the right mindset to go through all the processes of job applications and interviews.
So, when I heard word of a 'great resignation', I was initially skeptical. After all, we've been waiting for the retirement of baby boomers for 15 years, and perhaps the imminence of a great resignation in Australia has been greatly exaggerated. Still, it makes sense in theory - many of us have spent much of the past two years holed up in the same domestic space where we sleep, eat, work, read/watch tv, and sleep again.
Whilst working in a busy office has its share of social interactions, distractions, and the gratification that comes with collaborating and having in-person validation from professional peers, working from home is an entirely different experience. It is an isolated time with plenty of opportunity for introspection, and where I often get energy from the presence of colleagues to stay motivated and on-track, when I'm working from home, I have to come up with all that energy myself.
It can be exhausting, and when you need to summon up all that energy, the questions arise: Why am I doing this? Is this all there is? What do I want to do when the world opens up again?
Again, no shade on my previous employer, who were a wonderful team to work with, but if I'm not being my best person in the workplace, then maybe it's time to move onto something else.
Which brings me to my gripe of today - the phrase 'the great resignation'.
When I see this term arise, it comes out of a place of panicked fear - and from the perspective of the employer. Oh no! People are deciding that they want something else from their lives, and now you must quickly change your work culture to keep them! Here's a listicle on how to make your brilliant staff stay!
Firstly, people have *always* been resigning from crappy jobs, so this isn't a new trend, but by all means, if you manage a team with a toxic culture, you should probably change that. Secondly, my best managers have always been 100% supportive of my leaving to take on new and exciting opportunities, and if you really care for your workers, the best thing you can do is shake their hand and offer to be a reference once they start applying for jobs.
And then you can go out and start headhunting rising talent that have left other organisations in search of a new challenge to shine in.
So, I'd like to rename this current phenomenon as 'the great reinvention'. A time to switch things up again, try new things, build new teams, and explore new opportunities with a new workforce with new skills.
One thing's for certain - if this pandemic was already too long to be locked up in the same space day in, day out, then life is definitely too short to be spending it doing the same thing year in, year out. So, let's embrace change!