Chances are good you have thought about it. Statistically speaking, most of us have. It’s just a sign of the times. Perhaps you’ve already decided to quit your job and join The Great Resignation.
Droves of employees have indeed already left the proverbial building. People at all levels of the corporate ladder, many with no thought of quitting just two years ago, are no longer satisfied with their jobs. Good enough is no longer good enough, with good reason.
There is no escaping the headlines, stories, facts and figures—It’s a candidate’s market! Open positions are at an all-time high! Companies are desperate for talent and paying top dollar!
The thing is … that’s all true. Having just passed the pandemic 2-year anniversary, so much has changed, not the least of which is the job market. Generally speaking, the market is more conducive than ever to make a change in your career.
Still, before you take that leap like so many before you, take a deep breath and recognize the risks, because there are always risks. Consider the lessons being offered by those who may have learned too late.
Multiple studies and polls show that up to 72% of workers who have quit their jobs over the past two years regret their decision.
Resignation levels for the month of January rose to 952,000 in the U.S. Frontline workers in lower-wage jobs made up a large portion of that figure, but the surging trend has made its way to the top, with CEOs, CFOs, CMOs and other senior stakeholders vacating positions they’ve spent their whole careers pursuing. CEOs from Amazon, Disney, American Airlines and Red Lobster, to name a just few, have walked away in the past year. C-suites across all industries are quitting in record numbers, largely due to burnout and a widespread reassessment of priorities brought about by the pandemic.
According to 1CMO, the Chief Marketing Officer’s average tenure of less than three years is the lowest in at least a decade and the shortest of all the C-suite. Some are leaving for a specific new position with higher pay, better benefits, more opportunity to work remotely or in a hybrid environment. Others would rather face unemployment than suffer through another day at the office.
While many at the executive level are fortunate enough to take extensive time off to concept their master plan, others (most of us) have mortgages, car payments, kids in college and even elderly parents to take care of. Regardless, landing a better job with a higher salary and amazing benefits is practically a no brainer right now. Isn’t it?
The answer is a resounding maybe.
Let’s take a look at some of the latest data.
CEOs resigning in February 2022 totaled 42% higher than the 106 CEO exits recorded in the same month last year. A majority of those polled cited burnout. After operating in crisis mode for two years, executives are exhausted and looking for a fresh start.
The U.S. Department of Labor/U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released a report highlighting these striking statistics for January 2022.
- 4.3 million: record number of people who quit their jobs
- 6.1 million: workers separated from an employer
- 11.3 million: jobs open for the taking
- 6.7 million: employees hired
- 2021 was the biggest single-year gain in job growth in U.S. history.
The Addison Group Jobs Report reiterated with their own findings, also for the month of January.
- 23%: raise in resignations over pre-pandemic levels
- 4%: national unemployment rate
- 79%: rate of 1000 job seekers surveyed who claimed they were likely to consider looking for a new job after a single bad day at the office
- 69%: workers optimistic they would find a new job
- 20%: current employees actively looking for a job (digital talent in even greater demand)
Workers regret taking the plunge.
Multiple studies and polls are showing up to 72% of jobholders who resigned over the past two years lament their decision. They’re not happy enough to remain in their new role and are now stuck looking for yet another new job.
Kathryn Minshew, founder of The Muse, an online job board and advice company that specializes in helping candidates find the best cultural fit, has coined the term “shift shock.” It describes the regret many workers feel after starting a new position they later came to believe was not accurately represented at the hiring stage. “These are not the ordinary new-job jitters,” she explains.
The Muse performed a survey of over 2,500 workers earlier this year with some notable findings:
- Fewer than 4 in 10 resignees felt happy, successful or valued in their new position
- 30% claimed their new role to not be what they expected
- 29% said their shift shock encompassed both new job and company
- 36% bemoaned a loss of work-life balance
- 24% missed the culture of their previous job
- 24% said they didn’t thoroughly evaluate the pros and cons of their decision
Among those yet to take the plunge:
- 41% would give a new job two to six months if they felt shift shock as a new hire
- 48% would try to get their old job back if they felt misled by a new company
- 80% said it’s acceptable to leave a job before six months if it doesn’t live up to expectations
A 2019 Workplace Satisfaction Survey from The Addison Group asked participants to explain why they would seek out new roles.
- 81%: lack of fulfillment in current role
- 79%: resentment of being passed over for a promotion
- 43%: lack of satisfaction with career path
- 39%: incompatibility with manager/direct supervisor
How can you avoid regretting a career move?
While there are no guarantees, you can start by asking some hard questions. Take your time and be honest with yourself.
Why am I considering leaving my current job?
Am I suffering from burnout?
The pandemic left hordes of workers with the realization that life is just too short to spend most of their waking hours doing something they don’t enjoy. Lack of workload diversity, learning opportunities and achievable short-term goals are among the frustrations leading to burnout.
Do I need a better work/life balance?
After enjoying more time with family during the pandemic, many are admitting they never even realized the degree to which their relationships with spouses and kids were being neglected. The newfound fulfillment of quality time is simply not something they are willing to give up.
Does my new prioritization of office culture justify quitting?
The right company “fit” can be elusive, and a lack of cultural alignment is often one of the hardest problems to fix. But dreading work every day due to a toxic environment, or because your values and business style are not in tune with those around you, takes a toll on your soul. You deserve flexibility, empathy and transparency in the workplace. The old dynamics of hierarchy and control are no longer sustainable and can be deal breakers in today’s “new normal.”
Do I just need a break?
Those who have stuck it out through the pandemic are reporting that, rather than being rewarded for their loyalty, they have suffered the consequences of others’ decision to leave. Demands have become too extreme, problems unsolvable and workloads unrealistic. To-do lists have become impossible to do. Something’s got to give.
How important is the option to work in a hybrid or remote environment?
Most companies adopted at least some version of a modified in-office protocol over the past two years. The overwhelming consensus is that working from home has not decreased productivity or the all-important bottom line, which has led to permanent adjustments to in-office requirements. Businesses who are not willing to shift with the times are losing valued employees and having a difficult time recruiting new ones.
Is this about the money and/or benefits?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that the talent war has forced employers to step up their salary game. Wages have increased at every level and in almost every industry. C-suite executives are no exception. This could be the ideal time to explore higher paying opportunities.
On the flipside, companies are more focused on retention than ever before and are well aware that recruitment costs the business time and money. If your decision is monetarily driven, it may be worth negotiating with your current employer. Monitor industry trends and prepare for the conversation, so you can effectively communicate why a pay increase will serve both you and the company.
Am I feeling undervalued?
This one can be tough to address and even harder to change when choosing to remain with a company. Perhaps you’ve been overlooked for a raise or not received credit for a job well done. Believing that your employers or colleagues don’t recognize or appreciate your hard work can level your motivation and lead to feelings of isolation and resentment. If this sounds familiar, think about ways to amend the situation. Have that awkward conversation with your direct superior or the CEO. Find appropriate ways to point out your contributions. If necessary, re-evaluate your expectations and always make a point of showing appreciation to others.
A 2019 Workplace Satisfaction Survey from The Addison Group asked job seekers why they were seeking new roles. Responses included:
- Dissatisfaction with current role – 81%
- Passed over for a promotion – 79%
- Not satisfied with career path – 43%
- Issues with manager/direct supervisor – 39%
Is now the time to strike out on my own?
For some, the question is one of free-agency. The Wall Street Journal cited “workers quitting their jobs in droves to become their own bosses.” Self-employment in the U.S. rose by 500,000 over the pandemic, but the decision to leave your job to commit to your own business full-time can be even more daunting than quitting for a position at a new company. Stakes tend to be higher, hours longer and pay lower, at least in the short-term, and that’s without taking into account the astronomical failure rate. Of the 6.5 million startups launched every year, about 90% are doomed to fold. It is said that with great risk comes great reward. Could your new venture make it to the elite 10%?
What does it all mean?
Every answer to the questions above is legitimate and could very well justify your decision to resign. Acknowledging that less-than-ideal circumstances are often fixable if you are willing to put in the work, only you can decide if your current situation is better left behind.
Remember, we’re all in this together.
It’s become a comforting pandemic mantra, but your circumstances and your reality are unique. Keep in mind that dissatisfaction is contagious and can quickly infect a department, a company, even a whole nation under the right circumstances. Bandwagon bias can creep in ever so quietly and threaten your objectivity. Try not to let trends or headlines or rhetoric play a part in such a life-altering decision. Taking a step back to isolate your own reasoning, free from societal noise, will bring clarity to your process and ultimate decision.
In the end … change is hard, and there is no overstating the degree of transformation we have all experienced over the past two years. The pandemic has devastated lives on so many levels. But, if a nightmare like Covid could have a silver lining, today’s job market just may be the glimmer of hope so many of us need. Having so many options when making tough career decisions is a fortunate dilemma. Smart executives will weigh every option, put in the research and soul searching, and make the most informed decision for themselves and their families. Trust your gut. Follow your heart. Go out there and live your very best life—no matter how you define it.