Half term has raced by.
I feel somewhere between shock and heartbreak that we are back to school and work on Monday.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my job. I appreciate that I have one and know so many would jump at the chance to be so lucky. But right now, I actually don’t want it to be Monday again already.
It seems like I’m not alone. They’re calling it the ‘Great Resignation’, the ‘Big Quit’.
A survey from Microsoft suggests that 41% of global workers from a sample of more than 30,000 are thinking about changing professions or leaving their jobs this year. A UK survey indicates that 38% of people plan to quit in the next six months to a year.
Many blame the employers. Covid has been tough and there has definitely been some unscrupulous practice. One friend was paid 80% of her wage on furlough and expected to continue to work by her employer. Another friend had to ask for furlough as she couldn’t contend with home school and the inflexible demands of home working. I left a consultancy job as the need to attend 3hour long zoom calls each morning meant I had to ditch my kids to manage their own home schooling. I was lucky I could make that choice. Many people didn’t have the option.
Some people are burnt out. I have friends who work in the NHS and have done so throughout the pandemic. They are beyond exhausted. Work has lost its joy. They know they are needed; they got a clap after all. But there is a level of trauma there that has changed their ability to balance their employment with their sanity.
Another friend has now returned to the office, resuming a 3-hour commute each day. All of a sudden, that feels so much less sustainable.
For me, my life feels different. I feel different. Before the pandemic I would work away one night a week. Now, I feel like I need to be available to do pickups and drop offs and unexpected half days. My childcare has changed. I have been so lucky to rely on family to help out after school in the past. With covid rates in school aged children raging, I don’t dare ask our parents to test out the resilience of their vaccines.
More to the point, I think I have seen that my life could be different. I got to the end of lockdown and I realised that it didn’t need to be how it always was. I was able to think about how it could be going forward. I have an amazing employer who has given me flexibility and time. They have let me find a hybrid that works for us both. I manage my diary differently. Sure, there are compromises and I have no doubt this is not the most convenient option for them. But it has created in me an even stronger sense of loyalty, because I know they have helped me put myself first.
But if this were not my option. If these were not on the table for me, I would be making a very tough decision because I have seen that business as usual doesn’t work for me. Covid gave me the opportunity to reflect on my professional life, my personal goals, my needs and my values. There haven’t been many silver linings, but I will always be grateful for this one.