After some time off over the festive period, it's not unusual to feel reluctant about restarting work. Take heart. If you're not looking forward to returning to the workplace, you're in the majority. Research by consulting firm Gallup has concluded that a staggering 85% of people don't like their work.
This isn't about Covid. Despite extensive coverage of "the great resignation" in recent months, Gallup's research shows that people have hated their jobs for decades.
So why are so many people leaving their employment, and is it a sign that now is a good time to start something new?
Catalyst not cause
There's no doubt that Covid has caused a lot of stress and anxiety. Thousands have lost friends and family members, not to mention jobs, livelihoods, and homes. But that doesn't mean people are any less satisfied with their work.
Covid did, however, create a natural watershed. Many people experienced a year-long pause, in which life was put on hold. They were locked up at home, isolated from friends and family, unable to travel, and prohibited from doing what they normally do.
The pandemic period gave people both reason and time to question every element of their lives, particularly their career choices, direction, and happiness. What have they achieved? Where are they heading? And what will they do with the next 10/20/30 years?
Covid clearly contributed to the great resignation, but it's not as clear-cut as it may first appear.
The great resignation is not just a matter of millions of people re-evaluating their options. According to analysis by economist, Miguel Faria e Castro, for instance, a major contributor has been millions of baby boomers whom the pandemic has pushed into premature retirement.
Why? Castro points to three connected reasons:
First of all, many older workers left the workforce to protect themselves from the risk of infection.
Secondly, while workers of all ages faced layoffs, older workers have historically found it much harder to re-enter the workforce after time spent unemployed. It's likely that many older workers, finding it hard to return to employment, chose to retire instead.
Thirdly, while the Covid period saw a sharp downturn in economic activity, it also featured rising values in assets like housing and stocks. This provided, Castro argues, many older workers with a financial cushion that enabled them to retire earlier than expected.
Families, schools, and childcare
Another major factor in the great resignation has been the ability of parents to go to work. As schools and childcare facilities closed, it became impossible for both parents to hold down jobs. Someone had to stay at home to mind the children, or to oversee the home schooling. Such resignations weren't related to satisfaction at work; they were a practical necessity.
Life with purpose
This doesn't mean many people haven't reevaluated their careers. Of course they have. It's likely that we all know such people.
Covid, of course, has been tragic, and when faced with tragedy, it's common for people to contemplate their own existence and meaning. What exactly are we living for? Are we fulfilling our potential? What regrets would we have if we died tomorrow?
Few tragedies have impacted as many people as this pandemic. It's no surprise, then, that a large number are making changes.
Is this a good time to start something new?
Whether you've been forced into early retirement, have become a reluctant full-time parent, or are reevaluating your career, 2022 looks like a good time to make a fresh start. Talk to any recruiter or manager and they'll tell you how difficult it is to hire good people. But before you start applying for jobs, take a breath. The jobs market may be looking healthy right now, but this won't always be the case. It's important to make the right next step.
One reason I say this is economic uncertainty. Despite most share indexes reaching all-time-highs in 2021, and a strong start to 2022, there are some worrying signs.
Inflation, for example, is on the rise. Some foresee it accelerating. As the world moves hurriedly away from fossil fuels, for example, we are staring at near-term shortages that could lead to potential spikes in energy prices. The cost of energy tends to flow through into most other sectors, eventually, including food. Is an energy and food crisis on the horizon? Others go as far as saying that inflation will become an essential means of confiscating wealth. If you're an early retiree, inflation can quickly make that nest egg look a lot less nourishing. Supplementing one's retirement income with a side hustle could be a wise hedge.
Another reason to take special care with your next career step is timing. Although unwelcome to most, this pandemic has created a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change direction. Not only is the jobs market very buoyant, but also many people have more money in the bank. With no holidays to spend money on and a buoyant stock market, many families have built up their savings, making it much easier to take a risk. It's much harder to change career when you have no cash to fall back on should things not go to plan. Now is an unusual time; making the most of it by taking the right next step is crucial.
Should I start my own business?
In some ways, there's never been a better time to start your own business.
More money than ever is looking to find its way into private companies, with thi type of investment expected to surpass $1 trillion in the near future.
Breakthrough services and subscription payment plans make it easier than ever to start a company, reducing the cost of everything from accounting to software to marketing.
Governments all over the world are attempting to modernise their economies, giving new, innovative companies access to all manner of grants and support.
There are also business accelerators of all kinds, which specialise in de-risking the entrepreneurial journey for wannabe company founders. Although most cities have a range of accelerators, a few global examples are:
- Antler - a full-time programme for bright individuals in 17 cities around the world. Join with or without an idea, find a co-founder, come up with a business concept, and shape it into something that can attract investment.
- EF - a paid, full-time, 6-month programme in which you can develop an idea and find a co-founder.
- DQventures - our own part-time programme, where you co-found your business with our team of expert entrepreneurs. They do the early heavy lifting while you continue to earn your salary, making it ideal for more senior professionals.
Wishing you an excellent 2022
Whether you take the plunge into something new, stay where you are, or find a partner who can help you do both, we wish you the best of luck with 2022.
If you have any questions about DQventures, please contact a member of our team on LinkedIn.
- Surrender by Mohamed Hassan