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The Big Resignation

There is a lot of talk about the feeling that many people are about to throw in the towel and resign from their jobs. Some say this will be a biblical proportion, a mass exit from the workforce. A big change in company culture. How very exciting!

I love it when change is in the air because it offers us opportunities that didn’t exist before. And this could be one of the most plum opportunities we have seen for decades. But to understand how to make the most of this it’s worth inquiring ‘why’ so many people are making a very deliberate choice on how work fits into their lifestyle. The most popular prognosis so far is that when everything is thrown in the air, as it certainly has been in the last 18 months, we have an opportunity to assess what’s important to us. 

Without the daily habit of going to the office and carrying out routine lives, we have stepped away from the busyness and asked ourselves what is this life about? This can only be a healthy thing. Most of us spend our lives addicted to the drug that is busyness. Busy feels exciting.  Busy makes us feel as if we count. 

But being busy is easy. Doing something deliberate and meaningful is the challenge. Now we are no longer on that hamster wheel, many of us are realising that our talents are being wasted delivering work that does not make us whole and just makes the corporate machine more money. 

That is no longer good enough and I am delighted. If we don’t find meaning in our work it is a horrible waste of life. Regardless of what we do, there is an opportunity to carry out our work in a way that feeds our souls and celebrates the things that we truly value. There is a joint responsibility to make sure that we all find that meaning in the work we deliver. Businesses have been investing millions in helping people connect their personal purpose to that of the organisation. But we also need to make some runs ourselves. 

It’s not a piece of work that ever finishes. Our purpose is not set in stone for life (controversial I know!). It’s something that develops as we do. It’s something that changes as the context of our life ebbs and flows. And in the last 18 months for so many it has dramatically shifted. We all now need to revisit how we get meaning from the work that we do collaboratively, with the teams in which we belong. 

These teams are vital to our success. We all need relational energy to thrive and yet through lock down we have lost that meaningful connection. When physically together in an office we have around 40 informal interactions a week that not only help us be more creative but build the vital foundations of our relationships with those whom we work with. When working remotely those have dropped to about 7. This means that one of our greatest energetic resources has been massively depleted and therefore, a key component of us turning up and doing the work has almost disappeared. 

Our teams make everything better. They support us. They lighten the load. They help us belong. As we’ve been starved of all that richness for so long it’s no wonder so many of us are questioning our jobs. To keep people loving their work we all need to over invest in the relationships in our teams. Work is all about people. And the energetic connections between them should never be underestimated. We are social beasts, and we need to belong. It’s part of our very nature as for millions of years it helped our chances of survival. We are hurting from being separated from those in our teams. And as a result, we don’t have the deep implicit loyalty to our jobs anymore. Without the love of our teams, work feels magnolia. 

It is therefore incumbent upon us to reconnect. We must reconnect with our work and the meaning we get from it. And equally importantly reconnect physically with the people we do that work with. Without these ties mass resignations will reign. And quite frankly if we can’t make these connections meaningful; it would be crazy not to go find them somewhere else. It would be like a loveless marriage – an arrangement we continue just out of habit. You deserve better. Connect or reject? What’s it going to be? 

Photo by Ilya Ilford on Unsplash