Can the “Great Resignation” Become the “Great Elevation”? It’s Up to You.

The data is clear: one of the consequences of the Pandemic is that people are leaving their jobs. From my perch, the patterns are clear. I see it when I work with CEOs who lead multi-million dollar companies and share their thoughts and feelings with other Vistage members in order to be more effective leaders for themselves, their employees and companies and communities with which they work. I see it when I work with the Age Brilliantly community where adults share their questions and potential solutions on our interactional platform with peers, experts and service providers, who share our common mission: to lead long, fulfilling lives (to 100+).

It’s happening across almost all demographic groups for a simple reason: staying in a job that doesn’t meet some of their essential needs for a fulfilling life doesn’t make sense. The Pandemic which disrupted so many aspects of life, destroyed our allegiance to inertia: the reluctance to change. It moved workers from offices to home; it forced people to restructure how and when the use time to do jobs and reallocate it to relationships, passion and purpose. 

It challenged workers’ beliefs that they had to sacrifice some aspects of life for others. We learned that we no longer have to commute an hour a day to do your daily job, nor spend a day traveling back and forth for a meeting that could be done via Zoom. We learned that we have 12-18 hours during which we can work and spend time with our children and parents -often with more positive results for everyone. With a far more fulfilling life, why return to the old way of sacrificing “self” for the “job”. 

As humans continue to evolve, we’re motivated less by fears driven by our reptilian brains and more by the positive outlook of opportunities by our “sage” (frontal neocortex) brains. (See  Positive Psychology and Positive Intelligence to learn more.)  For emerging and young adults, the discovery happens early in their careers; for middle and later stage adults who are questioning what a potential 80 year adult life really means, this is the opportunity to stop living the “default” life and start leading an intentional life.

If they work for a company, this is the time to reflect on what they really want to do for the rest of their life. Resignations allow some to focus on GROWTHH time (i.e., Goal Re-orientation with Time for Health and Happiness) and launch their Future Selves. Young people can start careers that are more challenging and lucrative, and uses their time well. Middle and later stage adults can change careers, start businesses, and serve as SharExers (Sharing Experience and Expertise) to advise companies, mentor younger people, etc.) CEOs who resisted retirement because the company produces many values (e.g., identity, income, relationships), can identify inertia’s opportunity costs, and focus on life’s wonders, gifts and opportunities that they are missing

Since the beginning of the pandemic, McKinsey and others noted that it accelerated trends already in place. Experts have been sharing with us the impact of automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) on the job market: we’re going to lose between 25-40+% of jobs manual and routine jobs that Robots (physical machines) and Bots (software robots). At the same time, it creates new job and industries. Remember, digital transformation, telehealth, RPA (robotic process automation), etc. are all in their infancy. 

Thus, rather than lament the labor shortages that the “great resignation” has produced, we should focus on the opportunities it creates. Let the “robots and bots” free people from jobs that are routine and boring; and let’s enable those people who want to support companies’ vision and mission to increase their contribution! Let people acquire the soft- and hard-skills necessary to take on elevated work with interesting teams of other people who share that vision. 

One of the Vistage member CEOs with whom I work leads a unique firm. While many of the larger RPA firms develop tools that they help customers adopt, Simple Fractal focuses on diagnosis of client’s needs to develop customized bots (cRPA). As part of tits needs assessment process, it not only identifies where its bots can generate more revenue, more profit, better customer experiences, more efficiency, etc., but also challenges the client to think about how to use the enormous ROI that cRPA can produce to look at its future workforce and “elevate human capital”.

As individuals make better decisions concerning the jobs they want to own during the next decade while they also lead a more fulfilling lifestyle, they need to elevate their capabilities to take on these jobs. At the same time, companies and schools need to increase their commitment to helping people upskill their talents and capabilities to take on more interesting careers during next few decades.

Together, as individuals, schools, and companies, we can turn the Great Resignation into the Great Elevation.  Are you up to the challenge? Let’s get started, now!

For more information, contact: Jerry.Cahn@VistageChair.com or JCahn@AgeBrilliantly.org 

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