Much has been written lately about a phenomenon being dubbed as the “Great Resignation”.
Bloomberg Business News, BBC, Fast Company, and many other major media outlets have written popular pieces on this topic highlighting the vast number of employees leaving their employers for greener pastures; mainly as a result of post-pandemic reflection and personal awakening.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a record 4 million people quit their jobs in April of 2021, giving way to the “Great Resignation” period.
But how come no one is talking about the flip side of this coin? Why is no one shining the light on what this phenomenon really means as a whole? Where are all these people going? They surely are not disappearing into a black hole.
Yes, some people are starting businesses of their own. Others are scaling back their lifestyles and making major changes in their lives. But a great majority are either moving up in their careers or even switching to completely new industries.
Newton’s Third Law of Motion claims that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Let’s apply this law to the labor market. If people are leaving their companies, they are also arriving at other companies. Positions being vacated at Acme company must still be filled by someone else. Are you seeing what’s happening now? People are not leaving in droves. They are just simply playing musical chairs with their careers.
I’d argue that the so-called “Great Resignation” of 2021 should truly be considered the “Great Realignment.” Let’s use a positive term. One that truly reflects what’s really occurring in our society.
In western culture, some parents send their kids to stand in the corner of their room in “time out” so they can reflect and ponder on their behaviors when they mis-behave.
Well… 2020 was sort of like that for many of us. During quarantine many people stood in the corner of their homes and had plenty of time to reflect and ponder on many things.
Many took advantage of some the extra time they had (since there was no longer a commute) and learned new skills. They explored new fields. Talked to a lot of people online. Took online courses. Watched documentaries. Pondered many things.
The result was an awakening of sorts. The pandemic also gave rise to remote work and geographical barriers no longer mattered for many knowledge workers. The talent pool grew so much wider and individuals all of the sudden now have way more options for work that they ever dreamed off before.
Things like culture-fit, flexible working environments, and opportunities to never have to commute ever again became top of mind priorities for many of us. This is all very positive all-around.
Jim Collins, author of the NY Times best-selling book “Good to Great”, is popularly quoted saying that “those who build great organizations make sure they have the right people on the bus and the right people in the right seats.”
Think of the world in 2021, as large scale Grand Central Station, with millions of people voluntarily switching buses and finding the right seats, heading in the direction they truly want to go.
Welcome to the Great Realignment!