The shift in U.S. workers is showing us something massive: we aren’t settling anymore.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, about 4 million workers in the US quit their jobs in April – a 20-year record! On top of this 20-year record, we hit another milestone of 9.3 million job vacancies. Both of these statistics have many of us scratching our heads.
What in the World is Happening?
In times of upheaval or uncertainty (because humans are creatures of habit) my prediction for this COVID era would have been that more people would play it safe. They’d stick to where it’s comfortable – seek safety and stability. But if you look at those numbers above, this is simply not true, and now I know why.
The simple and seemingly backwards truth is this: the pandemic, which eventually led to a shortage of workers, has created confidence for workers to leave their current positions in search of something better. Now, the word better is subjective, each worker looks to check different boxes, but those boxes represent what workers want from their jobs, their careers, their opportunities – their work life balance (or harmony as I like to say). For the first time, in my lifetime, the workforce is running the show and unwilling to settle. And because of this, we might be closer to work-life balance than ever before.
A Spiritual Awakening of Sorts
From where I’m sitting, it looks to me like people are having some sort of awakening, driven by increased awareness, where they’ve realized that life is fragile and time is fleeting. This pandemic gave us something beautiful: the hope (and down time) to dream and the resilience to act on those dreams.
As Hemingway so eloquently put it, “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” This is our fork in the Universal road that few ever reach in their lifelong journey. It’s been set in front of us and plenty of people, (millions) are choosing to zig where they would have zagged, and vice versa.
Bringing It Home
I wouldn’t be “the resilience guy” if I didn’t point out the most obvious truth of them all – resilience is the driving force behind this shift and awakening. The very definition of resilience is not bouncing back into normalcy. It is to bounce forward, into something better, something chosen, something fulfilling that offers more. And this is what we are witnessing right now. The pandemic has brought out our resilience, and has given us the confidence to bounce forward instead of bouncing back.
Perhaps the “fallout” of this shutdown is a much better possibility than any of us ever imagined. Statistically more of us, than ever before, are so unwilling to settle that it is shifting our entire economy, job market and talent acquisition processes. The consequences are endless and I encourage us to take the time to reflect on the meaning of this for all of us. There is bound to be meaning we all take from it that informs our life, our work, our perspective – a creative opportunity of sorts.