November 2021 | Michael Schlesselman, Pharm.D., FASHP
In his blog, Michael Schlesselman advises employees to carefully consider their goals, opportunities, and finances before joining the Great Resignation and leaving their current positions behind. Dr. Schlesselman is the Director of Research Products at McCreadie Group and leads a remote team of pharmacists, technicians, and analysts in planning and supporting Vestigo, McCreadie Group’s software solution for IDS management.
Many of us might be tired of discussing how the pandemic had changed our lives, but the latest employment figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that a large number of employees are ready for a change. In September, roughly 3% of employees resigned from their current position. That’s 4.3 million people who left their jobs, and a reported 10 million open positions. Organizational psychologist and Texas A&M professor, Anthony Klotz, coined the phrase the “Great Resignation” to describe this phenomenon, and it is now a house-hold concern as millions of workers question what they are really getting out of their current jobs.
We have all managed the pandemic in different ways, but it is safe to say that many people are taking a closer look at their lives and determining if now is the time to make changes. As work and life started to re-open, workers began to examine their jobs and wonder if the grass is greener at another employer or in a completely different career or industry. Certainly, the pandemic provided a watershed moment for workers, but I can’t help but worry there may be future regrets due to rash or ill-informed decisions.
I understand the impulse. During the pandemic, many of us experienced new working conditions or realized the potential for something new. Those who had accepted long commutes found extra time to devote to their home lives and grew accustomed to the flexibility. Now, some employees don’t want to return to the office, even though their employers expect them to. And of course, some people have had no choice. They’ve continued to work in clinics, stores, and offices, and many want their shot at the perceived freedom of working from home. The opposite can also occur: employees who want to return to the office, but their company decided to stay remote. They might miss the comradery, social interactions, and satisfaction of working side-by-side with their teammates. Whatever the situation, workers now realize there are new options, and they want to decide where they work and enjoy the benefits.
The desire to choose the most effectual working environment is just one contributing factor to this wave of resignations. Workers have been doing some soul searching and thinking about how they want to spend their time and what they value. During the pandemic, people saw their priorities shift to their families, hobbies, and self-care. Many people re-evaluated their goals and their needs, and what level of stress and dissatisfaction they are willing to accept with their jobs. Suddenly, people were considering starting their own businesses, reaching for their dream job, or just rejecting the road they’ve been traveling as their health and futures became less certain.
A monumental event led many to slow down and re-prioritize their lives – a silver lining for sure. However, as a pharmacist and a director, I know how disruptive losing talented employees can be to patient care, scientific advancement, and the health of a company. I also know that while changing jobs can reinvigorate a career, it can also derail one. If you are considering reshuffling your career, there a few things I urge you to consider.
Really Think About What You Want
Do you want to stay in the same field or are you looking for something altogether different than what you are doing today? Do you want to move up the ladder or are you seeking a different type of challenge? Are you craving a better work-life balance? Would that be best achieved by working from home, in the office, or in a hybrid model?
Next, ask yourself, will leaving your current position help you achieve the next step in your career? It is important to really think about what you want, so you don’t end up in the same situation you are in today.
Before leaving your job, I suggest that you take an introspective look at your current position. Is there something with your current situation that could be corrected that would make you want to stay? I urge you to have a discussion with your supervisor and make sure they understand why you are dissatisfied. They might be unaware of your needs or your perspective, and they might have the ability to support the changes you need. Give them an opportunity to make it right. Employers are becoming more flexible, and if they value you as an employee, they will look for ways to support you, whether it be a modified schedule or new responsibilities. You deserve to be happy and to feel fulfilled by your work, and your employee deserves a chance to make that happen.
Fully Research New Opportunities
If you decide that leaving your job is right for you, please make sure to fully research the position and your prospective employer. Does this position align with your career goals, and does it address the pain points you are experiencing in your current position?
For example, if you’re looking for a better-work life balance, be sure to carefully consider if your prospective employers can demonstrate that they support a work-life balance both before and after the pandemic. Ask them how they support their existing workforce and ask to meet with current employees to learn their opinions.
If you are looking to work remotely, please make sure that your future employer is committed to making this model successful. When a team is not physically together, management must plan and actively work to ensure that their employees are engaged and connected. I suggest finding the answers to these questions:
- – How will my team and I be held accountable and stay engaged and productive?
- – What sort of opportunities for social and in-person working sessions will be available?
- – Is there any room for individual preference? Can I create a personalized hybrid schedule?
- – What percent of employees are remote?
- – What tools, training, and resources are available to support working remotely?
Consider your Finances and Prospects
If you are leaving a position without a new job in hand, I encourage you to determine how long you can go without a steady income and benefits. It is important to research if you can afford to quit your job. You will need to ensure that you have adequate savings, a realistic budget, and a backup plan for health insurance. Please don’t make any rash decisions without sufficient financial preparation.
The job market currently has many open positions, and this gives employees a lot of choices, but it also comes with competition in certain sectors. Some predict that in 2022, those who have recently resigned will be actively looking for positions to fill many of the current openings. Don’t assume you’re a shoo-in; I suggest that you approach the application process as if it were a tight market. Leverage your strengths and present yourself as the best candidate for the position. There are also new norms, so be prepared. Today, it is commonplace to conduct interviews virtually. If your interview process will be on-line, read articles on the subject and practice. Human resource departments will be accustomed to this format, and you will want to come across equally comfortable with today’s technology communication platforms.
Be a Part of the Positive Changes
The pandemic has created an environment that is ripe for innovation and out of the box thinking that can help boost the business world and our personal lives. The “Great Resignation,” “Great Reshuffle,” or “Great Rebalance,” however you classify this unprecedent job market adjustment, has provided opportunities to grow and learn new skills. Think about how you can make the change good for you and others around you, whether your stay at your current position or find a new path.
History’s narrative on the effects of the pandemic is far from being written. We have the opportunity to contribute to the next chapter of history and I would challenge us to be positive contributors to the narrative. Yes, the COVID pandemic is wearing some people and businesses down, but it also provided us with a chance to improve the workplace, create a better work-life balance, and maximize our job satisfaction. We also have an opportunity to better our lives and refocus our priorities. I hope that you carefully consider your needs, those of your family, and the industry your serve when deciding the future of your career.