We have all seen the headlines around the growing exodus in the labor force with people leaving in what appears to be record numbers. The “Great Resignation” is real and it is impacting all if us in both direct and indirect ways.
First, let’s do a brief overview of some of the data. The biggest exodus seems to be in the accommodations and food service industry, with retail next. Interestingly, this trend was happening before the pandemic and researchers aren’t sure if the continued trend was due to the pandemic or not. Healthcare workers are quitting and finding alternatives due to burnout and dissatisfaction (can we blame them?!).
None of this is cut-and-dry, and researchers are working to get at what is really going on, but I believe it is super important to acknowledge the disparity in reasons people are leaving. Some are leaving good jobs for better work environments and more flexibility — these are the fortunate ones. The other broad category is comprised of folks who are experiencing truly deplorable work conditions and have to choose between unhealthy work environments and survival. And how very different it is for women who have consistently outnumbered men in exiting the workforce out of necessity to care for children, aging parents, sick relatives, or all of them at once.
We are all a part of, and impacted by, this world phenomenon. What is important about understanding the bigger picture is being aware that it unconsciously sways our own behaviors. Suddenly we are given permission to think about our work life in very different ways prompting us to ponder the following questions:
* How do we think about being a working parent now vs. pre-pandemic?
* Are there aspects of our job that previously didn't bother us, but now do?
* How do we think differently about our role as a working parent vs. pre-pandemic?
Personally, I fall into the privileged category of assessing a work-life situation that is already good, but the pandemic has brought up gaps and caused me to step back and inventory what aspects I love, and what I want to change. As a coach and facilitator, I love being with people and did not think I could take my practice online and keep the same level of impact. Our children are recently out of college, and this new flexibility has caused some regret to surface around being physically gone many evenings and weekends while I was raising them. I would say I value time, nature, and learning and growing more than I realized before the pandemic, and I am changing my work situation significantly to have more of what nourishes me.
I have found in my coaching of couples and families that many had previously gone along with the program as it was scripted, and are now stepping back and assessing their priorities. In many fields, it is a job-seeker's market, but before you make a big leap, take some time to assess and create a vision for your career and family life.