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How the pandemic has shifted the way we think about work

Updated: Jan 26, 2022

Should I stay or should I go?

I find myself humming the '80s hit by The Clash when thinking about employee turnover in the workplace. Turnover is so commonplace that the trend has been dubbed, "The Great Resignation."

While some of the factors affecting turnover are pandemic-related, many are a buildup of long-term frustrations:

  • · Under-staffing and 24/7 expectations

  • · Lack of employer loyalty

  • · Dead-end career pathways

  • · Low pay and eroding benefits

  • · Lack of work-life harmony

All of these factors have been exacerbated by COVID-19, sparking a growing pushback against arcane management philosophies and policies. And it has shifted the calculus for many professionals.

A transforming workplace

The pandemic was the catalyst that set the wheels in motion for a redefined workplace. Now, flexibility is key, career choices are in flux and organizational power seems to be quickly shifting to the employee.

Do we want to be home when our kids get off the school bus, or on airplanes chasing parts around the globe? In my neighborhood, moms and dads wave goodbye to their kids each school day. And based on my front porch conversations, that won't end once the pandemic does.

Let's acknowledge that not every employee has the luxury of working from home or making quick, alternative career choices. There are many workplaces — factories, medical centers, hotels, restaurants, and classrooms come to mind — that require employees to be onsite and filling traditional roles.

And many professionals have returned to their pre-pandemic desks and attempted to return to business as usual. But it's not business as usual.

The Great Resignation is creating risk

Mass resignations, labor gaps, and the brain drain will have a significant impact on your own company.

This ongoing workplace transformation should worry managers. Just think what would happen if a key technician, engineer or sales manager was to pack up their desk and leave to start a coffee shop?

Does your profession hold the same allure, advancement opportunities and professional challenge that it once did?

While risk in an inherent part of business, shifting dynamics are changing the playing field in new ways. The economy is strong but the supply chain is tied up in knots; demand is outstripping supply; the ports are in gridlock; the search is on for truckers; inflation is on the rise and job openings continue to grow.

While leaders are adept at using workarounds to solve complex problems, these macro issues are out of our immediate control and have us rethinking our own futures.

Is the allure of jobs shifting?

For some, "Should I stay, or should I go?" is top of mind.

What is work? Where do we do it? And how does it fit into our lives? The devastating pandemic has impacted us all and forced us to come to terms with the ever-present issue of work-life balance. And it seems that, for many of us, life has won. The climb up the corporate ladder has ended for many — often at their own choice.

Sure, it may be a bit tougher to track down the engineer while working remotely. But I don't hear too many complaints about missing perfunctory visits from suppliers. In some ways, video conferencing has strengthened supplier relationships by enabled face-to-screen communication and live video plant tours. Beats the middle seat on a crowded 737.

At the end of the day, does your profession hold the same allure, advancement opportunities and professional challenges that it once did? It's a question millions are asking themselves as they consider whether to stay or go.

Let us know what your decision is, or what you desire…besides winning the lottery.


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