As effective rollouts of vaccinations continue to lift lockdowns across the world, a large majority of the workforce, a whopping 95%, has other plans regarding imminent callbacks to offices. Yes, we are talking about the piping hot issue of post-pandemic mass quitting that economists term as the “Great Resignation”.
Various media and news outlets have churned out scores of articles and stories about the wave of great resignation and why and how one should ride it. However, not everybody will find a gold pot at the end of this one.
That being said, it does not mean that you continue to stay at a job that offers little scope for growth or improvement. But before you get on the bandwagon of this trend, it's wise to understand what you stand to gain or lose from it.
Great resignation is an awakening response to post-pandemic work-life changes. For a lot of workers, the pandemic allowed the flexibility to work from home that wasn’t there before.
But at the same time, it overworked and overburdened some, leading to a loss of work-life balance and eventual burnout.
Furthermore, the stimulus checks that some central governments gave out, acted as safety nets. Powered by this sense of security, few decided to call it quits and set in motion a chain reaction of mass resignation.
While the post-pandemic economy is limping back to normalcy, some sectors will take longer than others to recover and some frontline jobs will be permanently lost due to large-scale automatization.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics study predicts that there will be 3 million fewer jobs in the U.S than it would have been by 2029.
Therefore, it would be smart to be wary of sneaky marketing campaigns that might influence you to make a hasty decision. Like Job boards that garner most of their revenue from ads sponsored by recruiting companies.
Despite what their banners or taglines might claim, the reason for encouraging the masses to quit and look for ‘better’ opportunities is a marketing tactic to divert more traffic to their sites.
Social media too can take some of the blame. It often overhypes the success stories. Most of them are by career consulting companies or professionals trying to secure business by citing the trend.
While statements like these might accurately depict the realities of a select few, they also have the power to influence others to take a leap they are not quite prepared for.
Once you have purged yourself of the media influence, then comes the time to make pros and cons list, and conduct a practical assessment of the job market and your current situation.
Why Quitting is a Risky Gamble
1. Possible Financial Bubble Burst in 2022
A recent article by Steve Forbes, editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine, Stock Market Bubble Will Burst And Inflation Will Follow, says that the enormous tax increases that congressional Democrats plan to pass would severely harm the stock market and the economy.
Along with that, the Federal government has passed trillion-dollar stimulation grants, “the largest peacetime spending”, which means greater printing of the greenbacks, a sure shot formula for igniting inflation comparable to the ’70s.
According to Forbes, the economy had shown great strength during the pandemic. And as it is just learning to get back on its feet, it will not be able to withstand a blow of this size.
The characteristic features of a bubble burst are a rise in prices and massive unemployment. So before taking any decision regarding your career, it would be smart to be prepared for what’s to come.
Instead of switching jobs in this turbulent time, it would be wiser to focus on firming your stand at your current place.
When/if the time comes when the company has to let go of its workers to cut costs, the workers at the lower level of the corporate hierarchy are the first to lose their jobs.
Stay at the job, work your way up, solidify your position. Upskill and become an invaluable asset to the company. As you gain seniority, you also gain security. That way, not having a job would be one thing less to worry about.
2. The Herd Mentality
Merriam-Webster describes herd mentality as “the tendency of the people in a group to think and behave in ways that conform with others in the group rather than as individuals,” which is quite fitting when describing the latest trend.
It is natural for humans to seek peer approval --that is psychology 101. While the wish to be a part of a collective is inherent, we neglect the influence it has on our personal decisions. The Great resignation itself is, in part, propelled into motion by a collective consciousness.
The crowd-backed decision might be a collective choice but the consequences have to be faced by the individual alone. Even advice by well-intentioned people could result in unfavorable results.
According to an article by Krystal D’Costa titled 'Is Quitting Contagious', "If job hunting occurs within a team, especially if that team is a close one, it can cause other members of the team to question whether they should be doing the same."
So even if you think that the decision to quit is something you came up with, the chances are that you might be getting swept up in the wave.
You might have heard or read about ‘Xyz person who quit, landed a better paying job’ or ‘a friend’s friend who said quitting his last job was the best decision he ever made'.
All of these claims may be true but you need to reflect if they are the reason that you want to quit a job you don’t have any serious issues with. Choosing to switch jobs is an important decision and it should be solely yours.
3. New Job Will Not Always Meet All Your Expectations
Unfortunately, a lot of times the realities of the interview process and actual job responsibilities are very different. According to a survey conducted by Glassdoor, 61% of the employees found the aspects of the new job strikingly different from their expectations.
That is, every 6 out of 10 employees feel that their new job isn’t what they expected it to be. The biggest factors for dissatisfaction being Employee Morale (40%), Job Responsibilities (39%), and Boss’ Personality (36%).
Now imagine leaving your old job, landing a brand new one after a series of taxing interviews, and feeling as dissatisfied as you were in your previous job.
A more realistic approach to it would be to decide your priorities.
Applying Cognitive-behavioral theory (CBT) might help you in choosing and eliminating factors. CBT is mostly used in psychology to understand emotional attachment. It can also be used in the professional sphere.
The CBT theory states that everyone has certain core beliefs. These are thoughts, principles, and assumptions people have about themselves and others and remain unchangeable for most people.
You need to identify what your core beliefs are for a job.
For example, if you enjoy working autonomously, or working remotely, and you want responsibilities that match your needs. Since your interaction with the rest of the team will be fairly limited, overall employee morale and how your boss behaves should not be a deal-breaker.
No job is going to meet all criteria on your checklist. So you need to reflect if you are quitting for the right reasons.
4. Finding New Jobs is Mentally Exhausting
Another factor people end up ignoring is the unbelievably taxing task of finding a good job.
You will definitely feel a certain level of thrill when you slam the resignation letter on the table and say a big ‘buzz off’ to the boss. You will ride on the mental high of happy hormones for a few days, unaware that the landing is going to be bumpy. Especially if you leave a job without securing a new one.
Once you come down from this high, the anxiety starts creeping up as bills start piling up. You suddenly feel unprepared and self-doubts start bogging you down. You will then be left evaluating if the last job was really that bad and if quitting was the right call.
Your days are spent tweaking your resume and giving a string of tests and interviews. If you are God’s favorite child, you might get a hit right after your first interview. But more often you will have to go through a series of unsuccessful ones.
As more days pass by, your savings dwindle and your self-confidence takes a major blow. In the end, you compromise on a lot of factors and take up a job that has lesser benefits and a grumpier boss than the last one.
Not a good feeling, is it?
But that will be the reality of the great resignation. As more people quit, even greater numbers will be competing for a single role. The competition is going to be fierce. You must make sure that your arsenal is packed and loaded before you enter the field.
Quitting is not a solution to all job-related inconveniences. Fixing meetings and negotiating with HR or your boss will be a far more simple way of handling things.
Enter negotiations with a frame of mind that the employer wants to help you. Keep emotions at bay and approach the negotiations with certain compromises in mind.
Employers too prefer to keep their current staff instead of wasting resources and tediously hunting for new recruits.
As quoted in the article ‘How to negotiate your current job instead of joining the great resignation’, Victoria Medvec, author of Negotiate Without Fear: Strategies and Tools to Maximize Your Outcomes, says, “If you leave without asking for what you want, you risk leaving on bad terms because your employer will feel that you didn’t give them a chance.”
The aim should be to try and exhaust all possible options before resorting to leaving. At all your interviews you will be asked why you left your last job.
Make sure you come across as someone who does not run away when faced with a minor inconvenience. If there are no serious issues with the job but you are still feeling exhausted, take a break, go for a vacation.
Be someone who is a problem solver and commits to their role. Don’t get swept in a trend wave with no shore in sight.