The Great Resignation! Chasing a mirage?

Posted on Friday, March 4, 2022 by David SavageNo comments

After a record 3% of Americans resigned in October of last year the expression “The Great Resignation” sparked huge debate.  The pandemic has forced many people to stop and consider what they really want from their careers.  The possibility to work remotely and new technology has meant that people are reconfiguring their careers to better suit their wellbeing overall.

Employers are now acutely aware that to attract and retain their best talent they need to be good at creating positive workplaces which, not only reward financially but also enhance the employees’ wellbeing. As employers sharpen their pencils, I wonder how many candidates will leave, attracted by greater flexibility, perks and smiling interviews only to find that it was a mirage and, after a time, find they are still feeling dissatisfied.

It’s so important to consider what will truly make your new role fulfilling.  The Japanese use a model called “ikigai”. It describes your “reason for being” and is the intersection of:

  • What you can be paid for;
  • What the world needs;
  • What you are good at;
  • What you love.

Whilst a good employer will try to fit you into the role that matches your experience, the courage to contribute in the best way for you is a responsibility that only you truly own. For example, you may feel indifferent about an industrial sector but know you can be paid good money to work there.  In this instance it’s important to ask yourself where will your sense of meaning come from?  If you follow your “passion” but feel constantly restricted financially you may end up becoming resentful and feel exploited.

Knowing what you want is complex, so it’s worth writing down what are the important elements of your new job so you have a clearer criteria of what you are after. Interviewers will pick up on your genuine excitement about a vacancy and this will increase your chances of success. 

Finally, it’s also possible to fall back in “love” with your current employer. By speaking up about what makes you tick they may have the power to adjust your role so your work is more fulfilling.  Either way, my advice is not to compromise in doing the things that make you feel alive -  in the long run you’ll give more back to an employer when you are operating from this place and life is just short!


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