Several media outlets have jumped on the story, suggesting that employees are quitting en masse in a ‘Great Resignation’. There may be cause for this; 2.7% of US workers left their jobs in April, breaking a 21-year-old record. Reports have also emphasised the ‘push factors’ leading employees to resign, such as employers insisting on a return to the office, while many people would prefer to continue to work from home.
However, it’s likely that several factors are pulling employees away from their roles, too. Notably, in the US at least, the record number of people leaving their jobs is paired with an unmatched number of job openings (9.3 million). It’s fair to assume that a significant proportion are leaving for a better opportunity elsewhere, not just because they are unhappy in their current position.
Other ‘pull factors’ include:
The greater time for reflection afforded by the lockdown, leading people to consider new career paths.
- Accumulated savings from reduced spending during lockdown, providing a financial buffer to leave their current job, before having a new opportunity lined up.
- The potential for early retirement, by cashing out on stock holdings which have soared in value during the previous year.
Whatever the case, anyone thinking of leaving their job would be wise to consider the following questions, according to an article by Dorie Clark in a Harvard Business Review article:
- “The logistics of work: Even if your company has announced a “universal” new policy governing how and where employees are required to work, don’t necessarily accept it as definitive.
- Your projects and skill development: Before you bow out, speak up for what you want.
- The colleagues you work with: If toxic team members are driving you away, it’s worth asking whether you could be reassigned to a new project or team.
- Money: If you feel you’re being underpaid, or you’ve gained new skills or experiences that make you especially marketable, or if there’s a particular life goal that feels pressing (such as earning enough to buy a home), a raise may obviate the need to leave your job.”
Five steps to improve your decision making
It’s also important to consider that our decision making can be impaired when we feel under pressure, and when outcomes are uncertain. Here are five simple steps to help you anticipate future scenarios and avoid making a poorly informed snap decision:
Take a deep, slow breath and step back from the situation: This simple step will help to up-regulate your parasympathetic ‘rest and digest’ nervous system, priming your brain to take in more information, and balance both emotion and logic driven thinking.
Imagine yourself physically looking down on your situation, as if you’ve flown directly up in a helicopter and looked out of the window: This process can stimulate new ways of thinking and fresh perspectives.
As you look down on yourself, ask:
a) What is your number one priority, at this moment?
b) Are there any aspects of your current situation that you have overlooked?
c) What can you influence now to improve future outcomes?
Come back down to earth and ask for the perspectives of at least three people who you trust, who you know you, your values and your goals: These people can help you to avoid blind-spots and confirmation bias, and suggest ideas that you may not have thought of.
Try to identify three small actions you can take today, which will help you to achieve some of the changes you are looking for: We often over-estimate the potential for big changes to influence our progress while under-estimating the compounding effect of small steps and subtle adjustments.
Together, these questions and steps may help to avoid the disruption of changing jobs unnecessarily, and set you up for success if it is the right time to move on.
Clark, D (2021) Are You Really Ready to Quit? [Accessed 07/06/2021] https://hbr.org/2021/06/are-you-really-ready-to-quit