I first heard the term ‘The Great Resignation’ in 2021. The effects of the pandemic led to many workers no longer commuting and either losing their jobs or having to adapt to working from home. The phrase ‘Great Resignation’ was coined by the psychologist Anthony Klotz and came about after a decade of employee dissatisfaction. And although it seemed to start in the U.S. whereby millions of Americans started to resign from their jobs, it is something that has been seen in many countries, including the UK.
So, why has this all come about? It wasn’t just because of the pandemic, but the pandemic highlighted many areas that employees were dissatisfied with.
I have spent much of my working life in London. Before moving home to London this meant commuting for nearly three hours per day (when all the train connections were aligned and on time). When I moved to South London my commute was a little under an hour but given that I didn’t live too far from where I worked, it still took time to get to my place of work each day.
When I had the opportunity to work from home for an Australian company in 2019 and not needing to commute, I found I had so much more time and energy. And even though I returned to working in an office in 2020, it wasn’t long before the pandemic meant I was working from home again. This has continued for over two years, and I can safely say that I don’t miss getting on packed buses and trains to be seated at my desk between certain hours of the day. I’m not the only one who feels like this, but it brings me on to the next dissatisfaction many of us face…
I have friends who have stayed in jobs they weren’t completely satisfied with because they no longer needed to commute, and the pandemic raised job uncertainty for them. But even though they got time back from commuting, it was instead filled up with increased workloads as employers saw the increased productivity due to employees not being in the office.
What was once a job that could be tolerated because of office banter, office besties and social events, was now just a boring job because those things were no longer taking place. Being at home alone or whilst also home schooling or caring for young children showed many of us what mattered and for many of us, our job just wasn’t it.
I also have friends and family who used the pandemic to springboard into creating their own businesses or changing their careers. They had more time and space to think about what they wanted and the energy to really investigate alternatives. They had more time and energy to take on training courses which led to changes in job roles.
Have you ever strived at work, done all the right things, stayed late, taken on more responsibility to even be considered for promotion or salary increases? Have you ever got stuck in a job because society tells you it is great that you have this job and it will pay your bills, but you really don’t enjoy what you are doing? You wouldn’t be the only person. Most workplaces are like society, built on masculine energy where employees are expected to meet deadlines, be productive and work even when not feeling well (not that your employer would admit to that!). And even those workplaces where there is a significant female leadership, this energy still manages to seep through.
We as humans have changed over time and constantly being bombarded with information and employer demands is leading to stress and fatigue. Many of us have learned that the rat race isn’t the only way to earn a living. Our worth is not tied to the job we do, and more and more people have realised this and are making the changes to search out and take jobs that are more fulfilling.
The pandemic highlighted how much we all have been putting our mental health at risk. Toxic workplaces, early mornings and late nights, stress, and poor eating habits all have an effect on our mental health. Some of these things have been removed due to working at home. In offices, it can be hard to put boundaries in place due to ‘team’ ethos. Working from home has given us space to make put boundaries in place to protect our mental health. No longer having to commute promoted better sleeping patterns. Not having to be up at the crack of dawn to rush for a train gave way to sleeping longer and walking from the bedroom to our ‘office’. Many people don’t want to return to putting their mental health under risk.
Lack of Career Progression
This goes hand in hand with Outdated Workplaces. Many corporations are based on structures where people work their way up the career ladder. However, when I was a permanent employee, I was forever being told that only a certain number of people a year could be promoted or gain a certain level of salary rise because of the ‘bell curve’ that was used to determine this. So, it didn’t matter how hard I had worked during the year, or how much I had improved. Having to prove myself year after year, only to be told there were too many colleagues doing just as well was one of the reasons I chose to be a contractor.
This constant hamster wheel of work is no way to really get career growth. I still see colleagues on this path, and I know they deserve so much more, but job security keeps them in jobs they are not satisfied with.
There are many reasons for us to stay in a job. But if the pandemic taught me anything (and many others) it was life is too short to be doing work that I don’t enjoy. I have my time since 2020 researching, training, and finding what work I want to do in my life. I’m sure you have your own reason for searching for or leaving a job. Whether you do it during the ‘Great Resignation’ or not, it up to you. If you would like help in finding what you really want to do in life, or if you already know but don’t have the clarity or confidence to take action, please get in touch.