THE GREAT CORPORATE EXODUS: WHY ON EARTH IS THIS HAPPENING?
MILLENNIALS AND GEN-Z ARE LEAVING CORPORATE JOBS IN DROVES. WHAT’S GOING ON?
TEXT BANTS WITH A MATE…
“… How are you doing anyway? Long time no speak.”
“I’m doing ok, about to quit my job next week. Very fed up with the shit money and no career progression…”
I couldn’t make this stuff up, I actually had this conversation yesterday.
I feel like I have the same conversation or at least some version of it, every two to three weeks with a friend I’ve not heard from in a while. Another mate recently quit his job to start a business, ”It’s now or never…” he said emphatically. This morning I read this article: ‘I’d rather bet on myself’: Workers are quitting their jobs to put themselves first. And it’s not the only one, similar articles are scattered all over the internet like poppy seeds on a bagel at the moment.
I think this is a pretty big deal. After all, it’s a pretty bold statement to choose unemployment over a white collar job that pays money, even if the money’s terrible. If the trend continues, which it seems to be, then it’s certainly worth exploring.
In April 2021, just under 4 million people quit their jobs in the United States. In the UK, many are seriously thinking about quitting too. According to one study 38% of employees are looking to change roles next year.
This feels like one of those moments where a group of people are twiddling their thumbs looking at each other sheepishly from side to side. Everyone knows the answer to the difficult question, but it’s easier to scratch their heads, look at charts and graphs and feign ignorance so they don’t have to answer first. I believe they call this idiom the ‘Elephant In the Room’..?
People quit their jobs, because they suck…
A bold statement which may require some context. I don’t mean to light a bag of dog poop on fire, leave it on your doorstep and run away. But it’s not exactly rocket science to figure out why everyone’s checking out of their 9 to 5. I say ‘everyone’ with a level of inaccurate hyperbole, I’m sure some people love their corporate job. I’ve just never met them before.
One CNBC article stated millennials are now rethinking whether climbing the corporate ladder is really worth it after spending their early careers burning out on limited opportunities. #BURNOUT! being the buzzword I see popping up in various places. In a Forbes article, a US study recently stated that over half (52%) of survey respondents are experiencing burnout in 2021. Couple that with low pay, COVID uncertainty, BREXIT if you’re in the UK and general fears about the future, and it seems we have an adequate recipe for the two word phrase, “I Quit!”. Or is there more to it?
I’m an architect, so I feel I’ve perhaps had my fair share of jobs that have been… ‘kinda wack’. We knew about #BURNOUT before hashtags were even a thing! Low pay also seems to be some kind of noble occupational hazard we all accept, although I’m not sure why. I was actually considering naming my next article, ‘WHY DO I HAVE TO WORK AT AN ARCHITECT’S? I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING WRONG…’
Even so, let me provide some balance here. I have had a couple of great architecture jobs too. Here’s a link to my LinkedIN profile — feel free to play a game of ‘Spot The Jobs That Didn’t Suck’. But jokes aside, if I ever left a job abruptly which I may or may not have done, it was never for any of the reasons stated above. Yes, low pay is degrading and BURNOUT is unpleasant. However, allow me to digress momentarily.
2020 was weird. I think the current trend points to something more profound…
“I think most people really do want to believe that they’re contributing to the world in some way, and if you deny that to them, they go crazy or become quietly miserable”
David Graeber, Author of Bullshit Jobs: A Theory — Sean Illing, David Graeber Interview VOX 2019
2020 was no joke, but if you were lucky it may have actually given you a lot of time to think. Perhaps too much time. After all, thinking can be bad for business. Think just enough and you’re great at your job — think too much and you’re questioning whether your job is worth doing, triggering an existential crisis.
A poll at YouGov stated 37% of British workers think their jobs are meaningless. Hmmm… If I’m wrong educate me — but 37% sounds like a large number of people, running round in circles for no reason. This is clearly a nuanced conversation. People work for all types of reasons and not everyone has the luxury of choice; perhaps I’ll elaborate on this in future blogs. Nonetheless, one thing I know for sure is this.
If I ever packed my boxes and quit my job, it wasn’t because of burnout or low pay. It was because my job lost its meaning.
Here’s a counter narrative for you. Today may be the best time in human history to be alive. It’s also a point so precarious, that none of us can afford to do things that don’t matter.
To be continued…