Why are people quitting their jobs in record numbers? The short answer: the pandemic. Still, the specific reasons are nearly as varied as the people quitting.
Many are quitting out of necessity, and for various logistical reasons. Many workers have had to become stay-at-home parents/teachers/caregivers. Some can’t return because they or someone in their household is in a high-risk group, and employers aren’t offering acceptable measures to minimize Covid-related health risks. Or they otherwise feel their employers aren’t looking out for them.
Other reasons behind the great resignation include a taste of something better. Some found they could be more balanced, more productive, and generally happier while working from home. If their employers insisted they return to the office, they decided that going back to the way things were wasn’t good enough.
Although the great resignation means that many are quitting their jobs, part of the reason may be the opposite of “resignation.” People are finding out they don’t need to be resigned to being overworked, underpaid, underprotected, and underappreciated.
A BBC article found that “how their employers treated them .. during the pandemic” had a big impact on whether workers chose to stay or leave.
And, since workers have become in high demand, some have received offers they couldn’t refuse in terms of better pay or working conditions. They have the chance to trade up, and no incentive not to.
And then there’s the rest of us
All that being said, what if these practical reasons don’t really apply to you. You don’t have to stay home, your employer didn’t endanger or discount you, and you don’t have an immediate better offer.
Still, the great resignation has inspired you to think of looking for something better, or at least to wonder – is this where I belong?
After all, life’s too short, fragile, and precious to settle for making do.
But do you really have to quit to find career bliss?
Only you know the answer to that question, of course. But there are a few other questions you could ask yourself to help you find your answer.
Is the field I’m in my calling?
That’s a big question. But if you feel the work you're doing is what you’re meant to do, at least for now, then that part is easy. Yet you may decide the particular job or company you’re in isn’t making you happy. In that case, maybe you can tweak it to make it better, or you may need to look elsewhere.
On the other hand, if you’re in sales and you know you’re really meant to be in graphic design or social work, then you have your answer in the negative, and you’ll probably want to at least think of looking elsewhere.
If you think you are in the right area, but you’re not sure if this particular job is still a good fit, you can ask yourself some other questions.
Can I stay just for a while – with a purpose?
There are several reasons why taking a “wait and see” or “wait and plan” approach might work for you. Rather than being in a hurry to quit, staying for a while may help you:
- Make sure it’s what you really want. Do you truly need to go elsewhere, or are you just feeling temporarily restless? Waiting a while could help you find out. It also gives you a chance to explore ways to increase your job satisfaction where you are now.
- Have the chance to show your value so you have more negotiating power with your employer. If you stay awhile and give them a closer look at what they’d be losing, you may be able to get them to give you what you want. Whether that’s better pay, more flexibility, or simply feeling more appreciated, they may consider working with you rather than lose you and have to look for a replacement.
- Build up your nest egg while looking for something better. If you aren’t in a hurry to replace your job – and your paycheck – you can build up your savings, look around, and wait until you find what you really want.
Why do I want to leave/what do I hope to find elsewhere?
This two-part question can help you see both what you’re unhappy with, and what to look for in your next job.
If it’s something simple and measurable like better pay or opportunities for promotion, you may need to look elsewhere.
But if what you want is more intangible, like job satisfaction, the chance to gain new skills, or more accommodation for your physical and mental health, then maybe you can find ways to attain it in your current role with a few modifications.
Think about what you need most, and talk with your employer about how that could happen.
Maybe your current job, with some adjustments, can still fit your needs, with room to grow. Once you’ve defined what you want, you may be able to find ways to get it at your current job. Or you’ll know what you’re looking for, and be more likely to recognize it when you find it.
Could there be a “third” option?
You might be looking at it as either/or, quit/stay. But maybe there’s something in between, or an alternative you haven’t thought of yet.
For example, if you decide your main reason for wanting to quit is your commute, and your employer refuses to let you work from home, maybe you could brainstorm other options together.
Could you work three longer days instead of 5 eight hour ones, or work at home two days a week?
If you’re renting, could you possibly move closer to work to cut the commute?
Or maybe once you’ve established your value, and your productivity working from home, your employer might reconsider giving you that option more of the time.
You might even be able to quit and then be hired back as a freelancer.
Another example is if you aren’t feeling as challenged, creative, or useful as you’d like. Maybe you can adapt your role and find ways to increase those feelings.
If not so much, maybe you can do volunteer work or a side hustle to meet those needs, while your job meets your financial and practical needs, at least for a while.
The point is to get creative and see if there are options you may have overlooked for getting your needs met.
Does the great resignation mean you need to resign to be fulfilled in your career? Whether or not you really need to quit depends on what you want and need, how willing your employer is to work with you on those objectives, and whether you have a better alternative.
If the best way up isn’t immediately clear, you may want to take some time to think it through, talk it out, and see how far you can go toward better job satisfaction where you are now.
To quit or not to quit – that’s just one of the questions. And the beauty is you get to decide what the best answers are for you.