The Big Quit: Are we ready?

If the pandemic has made you rethink your career, you are not alone.

The media is awash with stories predicting that the ‘Great Resignation’ is set to hit Australian shores in the first quarter of 2022. According to recent research by Microsoft, around 40% of the global workforce are considering what is also being dubbed ‘the big quit’.

The pandemic has caused unprecedented growth in our collective human consciousness. It’s given us a once in a life-time opportunity to redefine what truly matters to us. And when we are clear about what truly matters, change is inevitable. We start to reinvent our lives, our relationships, our work, our homes, our communities and ultimately our society as a whole.

For many of us, our work is at the forefront of our life reinvention. We’re recognising that the pursuit of money and the material has overridden our quiet inner calling to pursue our passion and purpose. We’re seeking a new adventure.

Meaning is the new money

It seems that the ‘Great Resignation’ is being caused by the ‘Great Movement towards Meaning’.

For many, meaning is fast becoming the new money. The pandemic has given many of us (particularly those of us in protracted lockdowns) a serious taste of what it’s like to live more purposefully, simply, and peacefully. We’ve discovered that the best things in life really are free.

For me, that’s swimming in the Yarra, making friends with my new swimming buddies and communing with nature in a kayak while collecting rubbish. (Incidentally, most rubbish is empty plastic water bottles, a product in my mind that has no legitimate purpose beyond making a profit.)

A conversation about purpose

There’s an important and urgent conversation to be had between employers and employees before the great waves of resignation hit. That conversation is one around purpose and meaning.

It can’t just be a conversation centred on company purpose alone. It’s already clear from my current research, that the gap between the ‘stated purpose’ of most companies and the ‘lived purpose’ is wide. Most employees don’t even know the company purpose. And if they do know it, they don’t believe in it. And if they don’t believe in it, it’s impossible to live it. It will never be enough to make people stay.

So, in addition to making the company purpose believable and achievable, employers and employees must be willing to go deeper to explore the other levels of purpose; Team Purpose, Role Purpose and Personal Purpose.

Here’s a snapshot of what the four levels of purpose mean:

Organisational Purpose answers the question of why do we exist as a company beyond making a profit? Unilever is a great example of how company purpose drives people. Read more.

Team Purpose answers the question of why does our team exist in service to our company purpose?

Role Purpose answers the question of why does my job exist in service to my team or company purpose? Carolyn Lancaster of RSL LifeCare is a great example of how organisational and role purpose intersect. Read more.

Personal Purpose answers the question of why do I exist beyond my work and how do I bring that to my work? Michelle Moss at AGL is a great example of personal purpose at work. Read more.

It may seem too complex to articulate all levels of purpose at once, so I recommend starting with just one or two. Work out which ones are most important to your people right now. I’m willing to bet that Personal Purpose is high on the agenda, particularly for your best people, the ones at most risk of leaving.

Then book a time to have a private ‘purpose conversation’ with each of your team members. If you need a list of questions to ignite this conversation, The Purpose Project offers 50 ideas to get you started.

Till next week!

With love and purpose

PS: My own purpose is ‘bringing purpose to life so together we can build a better world’. I help leaders in schools and companies fast-track this purpose through my specialty short course Talk on Purpose. Intrigued? Book a Conversation. No cost. No obligation.

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