There has been a lot of noise over the last few months around "the great resignation of 2021"; where workplaces are noticing a trend of employee resignation. According to a recent survey from Microsoft, which sampled the opinions of 30,000 workers globally, 41 per cent were considering quitting or changing professions in 2021.
As we slowly start to recover from the COVID pandemic, the truth is it’s too soon to know what work-life balance will look like once the dust has settled. Personally, I wouldn’t want to make any big life-changing decisions until I know what that new normal is going to look like. And believe me, holding back on decisions is not an approach that comes naturally to me.
One of the very first personality profile tools I ever used indicated that I was an “activist”; I didn’t have natural “reflector” tendencies and was very much somebody who wants to get things done! A very accurate description of my personality and one that I would say is still prevalent today, although I have worked hard to channel my inner theorist and reflector in order to not always dive straight in.
It’s that diving straight in that can cause the problem when we don’t take the time to think something through and with the benefit of hindsight, we may find we acted too quickly and it’s too late to go back.
As our lives start to re-open and we learn to live with this virus, we will all have had different experiences of lockdowns and adapted in different ways to this period of uncertainty. It’s so easy to forget what life was like before we went into lockdown last March, and for our life over the last 18 months to be what we now recognise as the norm.
But of course, the last 18 months has been artificial in many ways because we’ve had no choice but to live and work under a state of lockdown and enforced rules. There have been challenges and there have been opportunities and I know there will be many things that have come out of the COVID-era which we will want to retain - for many, work-life balance is at the top of that list.
Work has changed
No doubt, the thought of a long commute into the office may feel difficult after months of your commute being as short as a 30 second stroll to your kitchen table. Probably, more importantly, you’ve enjoyed the opportunity of being able to take your kids to school or exercise more regularly and these are parts of the balance which you want to hang on to. As a result, the only option for some may seem to be to write their resignation letter. However, we mustn’t make rash decisions and set in motion big changes based on what has effectively been a bubble-like existence.
It’s a bit like going off on maternity leave for your first child, adamant you will only be gone for six months and that you will come back full time exactly as you were before, to then realise that actually having a baby has changed your world completely and you no longer feel that way. Likewise, as bubble living starts to recede and life begins to reopen, what felt so idyllic may not remain so once the new normality has had some time to settle.
Much has been said about the change of expectations for those in professional services roles, whether people will ever go back to the workplace in the same way, and what hybrid working will look like. These debates taking place across the kitchen table are also going on around the boardroom table. What is needed is compassion and flexibility as we all, both employer and employee, feel our way through this period of transition. It is a two-way street and just as workers may be uncertain about what work-life balance will look like post-COVID, the employer doesn’t have all the answers either, so all we can do is support each other as this new normal starts to bed in.
I’m a big believer in tackling the cause rather than the symptom and until we know how things will evolve post-COVID, diving into decisions, with a think later mentality might not be the answer. Instead, maybe now is the time to channel our inner-reflector and avoid making knee-jerk decisions to solve a problem that may not actually exist.
About the Author
Lydia Ings has more than 25 years of experience in Human Resources and an extensive knowledge of the real estate market. She has worked across the full spectrum of HR; including talent acquisition, graduate development, training & career development, operations, and business partnering.
To get in touch, contact Lydia.Ings@colliers.com.