By Molly Brennan, Global Managing Partner and Nonprofit and Social Impact Practice Lead, Diversified Search Group
If you’re thinking about joining the Great Resignation and quitting your job, you’re in good company. Resignations are at a 20-year high, and depending on what study you’re reading, one-third to one-half of all U.S. workers are considering leaving their jobs right now. This record number of resignations is fueled by a range of factors, from the understanding that better pay and opportunities may be readily available, to a desire to work for an organization that is more values-aligned, to the desire to have more flexibility about when and where work is done. Burnout is also a significant factor that’s driving employees to seek other opportunities.
If you recognize yourself in any of these factors and are considering taking action, you’re likely to find yourself in a good position. The number of open opportunities has created stiff competition for talent, driving up salaries and giving candidates an advantage when it comes to negotiations.
A recent study from Pew Research Center found that many workers who leave their positions actually do find better jobs. At least half of these workers say that compared with their last job, they are now earning more money (56 percent), have more opportunities for advancement (53 percent), have an easier time balancing work and family responsibilities (53 percent), and have more flexibility to choose when they put in their work hours (50 percent). At the same time, that means almost half of those surveyed reported that they are not earning more, and about 22 percent said their current benefits are worse than at their last job.
So it would be a good idea to explore the following questions before quitting your current job:
1. Are you running away from, or toward, something? This question will help you be honest with yourself about whether you’re having a “grass is greener” moment. If you’re feeling tired, bored, or burned out, you are likely running away from a challenging situation. If you’re thinking about career growth, better alignment with your values, or a shift in careers, you’re likely running toward something better. Both are OK, but it’s important to know what’s truly driving your desire to make a change before you take action, especially if you’re in the “running from” category, because there may be changes you could make in your current role that could help.
2. What do you value about your job, and what are you not currently getting or doing that you’d love? This is part two of understanding what’s motivating you to think about quitting. Sit down — away from work — with a blank piece of paper and list the aspects of your job that you truly value. This could be the income, your colleagues, the day-to-day work, flexibility — there is no right or wrong answer. Then, list the things that you don’t have or you don’t like in your current role — a difficult manager, a lack of opportunities for growth, a tough commute, whatever frustrations you’re experiencing. Look at the two lists and see where the balance is. Then, for the second category, ask yourself: What here can I change, and what can I not change? And, most importantly, ask what, if anything, feels like a deal-killer that will keep you from being fulfilled in your current role?
3. What could your employer provide that would help you re-engage and feel good about your job? As you consider the list of things that are missing or are contributing to your unhappiness, focus on the aspects that seem immovable or unchangeable. Is there anything your employer could offer you in those categories? A raise? The ability to work from home more frequently? A chance to work on new or different projects or teams? A transfer to a new department or team? Don’t assume that there is nothing to be done other than look for a new job. Your manager may be more willing than you think to be creative about responding to the demands of a great employee who isn’t fully satisfied, especially in this market when organizations are doing everything they can to hold on to talent.
4. Do you want to leave your current organization or your career? As you think about the specific aspects of your role and the organization, ask yourself if what you’re experiencing is related to the organization you work for, or if you might be seeking more than just a change of employer, i.e., a career change. If it’s the latter, it’s important to be clear about that now, and make a plan for changing your focus rather than switching employers and then realizing that you’re still in the wrong career.
These questions can help you determine what you could do to make your job more satisfying. And if the answer is that there is nothing you or your employer can do, then at least you’ll know that you’ve truly done the work of assessing your current role and have a clear idea of what you’re looking for in your next opportunity.
Molly Brennan is Global Managing Partner and Nonprofit and Social Impact Practice Lead at Diversified Search Group; and author of the 2019 report The Governance Gap: Examining Diversity and Equity on Nonprofit Boards of Directors. Her focus areas include leadership, retention, diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.