Today’s big idea is that as the world begins to re-open, we are collectively rethinking work post-pandemic. Economists and journalists are calling it, ‘A Great Reassessment of work.’ But what do we want to take in to account when we’re doing this re-assessing?
Listen to the Podcast Here
But first, a little context. What the heck is a Great Reassessment?
There are a few indicators that suggest that people are not rushing back to work post-covid. Or if they never left work, they’re thinking pretty seriously about changing jobs.
20 million U.S. jobs went away at the start of the pandemic. And as of April, 2021, there are either 8 or 9 million vacant jobs that haven’t been filled, depending on which report you look at.
Some employers have been calling it a worker shortage. Some fiscal conservatives have said that’s what happens when you make unemployment benefits easy and attractive (Which were bumped up to $600 a week for finite periods of time during the pandemic.) Liberals and economists say if you want more workers, raise compensation. And a lot of workers are saying, hold up a minute. We all almost died and we can’t just blindly go back to the way things were. Because life is short, and some of the stuff we were tolerating before we just can’t tolerate any more.
This cuts across a lot of different fields
Front line workers, like those in the medical field, teachers, and those who work in retail jobs, are burned out. Office workers who have been freed from long commutes and hours spent inside the confines of a physical office are not that psyched about getting back on that hamster wheel. Even I, who work for myself doing work that I truly enjoy, have had a pretty big reckoning about work.
Prudential Financial’s Pulse of the American Worker survey, which was released in spring of 2021, found that 1 in 4 workers are considering leaving their job after the pandemic. A-Economists are calling it “The great resignation”. An overwhelming trend in those who are thinking of leaving their jobs is a desire for more flexibility.
I even just received an email from linkedIn asking for stories and insights from people are rethinking work situations and asking them to use the hashtag #thebigshift.
The bottom line is: a lot of us are rethinking work post-covid.
I don’t think anyone would have chosen to have over 600,000 Americans die to get to this point. But as a result of the pandemic, there’s something going on in the collective where we’ve got an opportunity to change our work lives.
What’s on people’s minds–including mine–regarding the future of work:
Of those people surveyed in the Prudential survey I mentioned earlier, 80% don’t see a good path for their careers to advance where they are. 72% say the pandemic has caused them to re-evaluate their skill sets, and they want to find something that’s a better match for what they have to offer. (I’ve got an episode all about this particular concern tomorrow–so come back!). And pretty much everyone wants more flexibility in their next job.
I work for myself and the majority of my income comes from working as a writer or editor on book projects, which have long, and some times unpredictable timelines. Since I often can’t predict or control the deadlines, if a project met my basic criteria, I said yes and would figure out how to make it all work later.
In 2020, this say yes and figure it out later approach backed up on me, big time. I had way too many projects and no time or brain space to work on them. In addition to being my kids’ teacher, therapist, cruise director, drill sergeant, and best friend.
I felt at all times that if I wasn’t working, I was only falling further behind. It felt like I was in a cardboard box with no air holes.
I love hustling. I love what I do. But I still am walking away from the pandemic thinking, I have been getting work wrong. I am aging, my kids are getting older, and I am always working.
Going forward, I’ve got to be pickier. And I’m definitely committed to taking on opportunities that have the potential for a bigger payoff after. That means more book projects that offer royalties (and that I believe in their potential to earn royalties). More projects that are more closely aligned with my superpowers–so that the work doesn’t require a lot of heavy lifting or riding a learning curve on my end. And what I do with the money I earn from these projects. I plan to earmark a bigger part of each paycheck for things that will help me be less reliant on my next paycheck, whether that’s a rental property or an investment account or a promising business venture. This type of thinking is something I started doing in earnest after I interviewed Jennifer Barrett, author of Think Like a Breadwinner, which was episode 414. It’s worth a re-listen!
And finally, more strengthening of the muscles that say it’s ok to go play badminton with the kids or lie down in the grass in the middle of a dog walk even if there is work still to be done. Work is an important part of life, but it’s not the only one.
I’d love to know what kinds of new thoughts you’re having about work
I’m posting about #thebigshift on Instagram and LinkedIn, both places where I’m @katehanleyauthor. Come leave a comment or shoot me a DM and tell me, are you rethinking work post-covid? Thinking of making a change? Never going back? Grateful for the work you have? And what do you want employers to know at this particular juncture about what employees need?