If you’re an advocate of one job until you croak, you probably shouldn’t read this. I’ve noticed over the years that keeping that job you love to hate is not the ego buster it used to be. Here’s a shocker: you can quit. And that’s exactly what thousands of employees are doing. When you don’t quit but find yourself suddenly unemployed because you just got fired due to a business downturn, you have time to ponder the trend. There’s no kinship with the quitters but there is this sense that your employer just took the opportunity to skim the cream off the employee roster.
When Covid hit there was the scramble to find your slippers and settle in for a day of Zoom meetings with the cat on your lap. Keeping the job and working from home was deluxe. But if you had kids and they shut the schools, or you had a combination of bored school kids at home and energetic toddlers, you were suddenly stressed, angry, and pissed at the world. Choices were to made. Suddenly quitting seemed mighty fine. After all, you could always figure out another way to make money. Right?
It might not be so right after all. The news outlets have been delighted and horrified by the American workforce quitting. It’s not like anyone quit to go to a better job. They just quit. To find themselves. We’re talking about people in their 20s and 30s who can’t face it anymore. I wonder what people in their 50s and beyond think about this attitude. America is the original “don’t be a quitter” country and watching the arse end of your workforce leave the building has shaken the bedrock of our economy.
The media wants you to believe that the majority of those who quit were corporate attorneys or harassed CEOs or others of that ilk with deep pockets. Or they left to start their own businesses in a time when money for startups is tighter than ever and not having a steady income stream is a red flag to a lender.
That’s the easy explanation. But how about the mass extinction in retailing, construction, and the trades. The granite layers of the economy are leaving. No savings, no plans. That’s worlds apart from some venture capitalist who always wanted to be a dairy farmer. With 20% of the workforce sitting it out since the pandemic began, you have to wonder if their motives in walking out will impress a potential new employer. Maybe if they’re desperate. Are we desperate yet? Maybe. When a construction laborer can demand $40 per hour to haul around equipment we might be staring over the edge.
I’m not opposed to people finding themselves, rethinking their career path, staying sane or being disgusted by the devaluing of their labor. In a CNN survey a few years ago 92% of the respondents indicated that the top reason for quitting a job was because they didn’t feel respected. Aretha was right.
I’m urging people not to overthink where they can go and what they can do without training and time in the hopper. There’s this crazy idea going around that you can hold employers hostage for whatever you want or occupy the corner office without any experience. It might work in the movies. But in real life there are some steps in between.