How Employees Can Make the Most of the Great Resignation

Since Spring 2021, more than 47 million Americans have quit their jobs in search of something better than their current employment — and more are considering doing the same. The trend, cleverly dubbed the Great Resignation, has resulted in a labor shortage that has more than a few employers panicking, and it is giving employees more power to negotiate for the pay and perks they prefer.

Whether or not you chose to leave your position, you can use the Great Resignation to your advantage. Here are a few ways to make the most of the current labor shortage to keep you satisfied and productive in your chosen career.

Consider Your Priorities and Long-term Goals

Many employees participating in the Great Resignation are doing so because the pandemic caused a shift in their priorities. For some, time with family became much more important than time spent at work, and strict work schedules forced them to look for more flexible employment elsewhere. For others, time away from work gave them the opportunity to explore their passions, and as a result, some former employees are now aiming their careers at projects that bring them joy, regardless of the associated pay.

You should take some time to explore how you are currently prioritizing important aspects of your life. If your current position is interfering with your priorities in some significant way, you might consider how you can make changes to your work. Additionally, you should look ahead on your current career path to see how this line of work will affect your priorities in the future. Then, the choices you make during the Great Resignation will have a greater impact on your long-term career happiness.

Look for Positives and Negatives in Your Current Role

There is no such thing as a perfect job, and likewise, few jobs are absolutely terrible. In the midst of the Great Resignation, as so many ex-employees are detailing the dissatisfaction they experienced in their former positions, you might be tempted to focus on the bad aspects of your current role. Indeed, it is important to pay attention to what you do not enjoy about your job, but it is equally important to recognize what your current employer is doing right. You might find that there are way more positives than negatives associated with your position and career path, which should indicate that you should stay put. Then again, you might identify several elements of your work environment that make it untenable to continue on your current employment path.

Negotiate for the Changes You Need to Stay

If you have skills and knowledge that are in demand, the Great Resignation and the resulting labor shortage is providing you with an excellent opportunity for negotiation with your current employer. You might approach your superior to discuss ways they can improve your satisfaction and productivity if you are planning on staying — or ways they can compel you to stick around if you are thinking about looking for something new. Negotiations can occur for any workplace perk, not just salary. For example, you might request more flexi time or to permanently transition to WFH; you might ask for more mental health days; you might ask for a child care stipend or tuition repayment for short courses related to your field.

Any time you negotiate with your employer, you need to maintain a constructive attitude. You should avoid allowing your emotions to overwhelm your thought processes, and you should draw upon facts and examples to ground your negotiations in your real work performance. You will likely have a list of requests from your employer, but you should know before you begin negotiations which changes to your position are the most important to you. Then, you know which issues you are willing to be flexible on and which truly matter to the future of your employment in this position.

You do not need to join the tide of Americans quitting their jobs to benefit from the Great Resignation. However, if you do discover that you are unsatisfied by your current role, there is no better time to look for new work than right now. 

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