The year 2021 was the year that saw the beginning of the Great Resignation when a record number of people left their jobs. Also known as the Big Quit, the Great Resignation refers to an economic trend where people voluntarily leave their jobs.
While experts have cited several reasons for this phenomenon, including factors like Covid burnout, job security, and better pay, there is another factor that, to my mind, is most critical. That factor is people’s desire to work and get to a life of quality, a life of substance. This means that people have begun to realize that their current lives and current jobs do not allow them to lead such lives, and the pandemic has shown them how important this is. As a result, people are walking away from their fabulously paying, high profile but high-pressure jobs, which leave them with no time for anything else. Instead, they are stepping back to relook and re-evaluate their lives.
The pandemic, while ravaging humanity, has shown that life is uncertain, unpredictable and definitely not in our control. So while securing a plum job, running after all the perks and wealth associated with it may give us happiness, that happiness can only be superficial and transient. Since these things can only offer us temporary happiness, they cannot be the only goals of our life. Life has to be much more meaningful and impactful. Life has to have worthwhile goals for our loved ones and us.
We need to adopt goals like having a work-life balance, taking up jobs aligned with our interests, passions, values and ethics, and caring for people and humanity. We have been made to learn the hard way that with all the material wealth in the world if we don’t have the time to enjoy it or don’t have the people to enjoy it with, there is no point in struggling for it.
These two years have also brought home the fact that many of us had started living lives of robots, of machines. So if we were getting an excellent salary and other perks, we were mindlessly doing the job, not realizing what we were losing out on in the bargain, not realizing that we were moving towards a complete burnout. Things like our passions and interests had taken a back seat because they were probably incapable of getting us the big bucks.
The lockdowns, the time away from the desk, showed us the stupidity and the absurdity of our beliefs. The time out made us unearth some of our lost hobbies and interests. We realized that we could survive, live happily even if we didn’t go to work, did not travel for work, did not chase numbers. When forcibly made to sit at home with lots of time at our disposal, we got a chance to explore and rediscover ourselves. We found things that made us happier. So many of us discovered new interests. Since we got breathing space from the regular rushed routines, we got a chance to pause and relook at our lives.
As pointed out by some experts, this phenomenon is mainly prevalent in middle-aged people. I think the reason is that people in this age group have reached a stage and age where they don’t need as much financial security as the young and still have many more years ahead of them, which makes it worthwhile to reinvent and reboot themselves.
Among other things, the pandemic made us realize the importance of spending time with family and friends and, most of all, spending time with ourselves, being with ourselves.
So the Great Resignation, through a horror story for the employers, has added a newer, fresher perspective to the lives of the employees. People are moving to smaller, quieter places away from the busy city lives, they are reading, painting, cooking and doing everything else for which earlier they had no time. They are learning to focus on quality rather than quantity and finding peace and happiness. The phenomenon is turning out to be a boon for the employees and a bane for the employers.
As Arianna Huffington says,’ The Great Resignation is really a Great Re-evaluation. ‘