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Chandra Sahu, 25, left a job in investment banking during the so-called Great Resignation last year, eager to find work that offered more flexibility. The New York City resident said she looked for work that fulfilled her “top priorities,” allowing her to demonstrate her “agency and creativity,” and landed at a startup.
“I wanted to work in a space where I was working closely with a team, where it still had kind of that rapid energy that you have in banking, but super-focused on a user and a problem space,” Sahu said.
Being able to pursue her interests outside of work was also important to Sahu. “I’ve really tried to prioritize making space for habits in my life, and ultimately lead to the kind of life I want to live,” she said.
Prioritizing quality of life for employees is one of the biggest career trends of 2022, said management consultant Christine Spadafor. “For many companies, this is going to be a culture shift,” she said. “It’s really looking at employees more holistically.”
“It means putting a human face on the human capital,” Spadafor added. “It’s not just thinking about the work that they do, but rather thinking about their financial well-being, their social well-being meaning with friends and family, their physical well-being and what’s gotten a lot of attention, and understandably so, is your mental health well-being, as well.”
Yet after the Great Resignation, many workers went through what has been called the “Great Regret” —admitting they should have stayed put, a workplace dilemma of 2022 that some experts say may change in the year ahead.
“You’re seeing a little more hesitancy to make moves; people are … maybe digging in a little bit,” said William Crawford Stonehouse III, founder and president of Crawford Thomas Recruiting in Orlando, Florida.
Despite a spate of layoffs at large, high-profile companies, many employers need to retain productive workers. “The unemployment rate is still so low that if you talk to 10 medium [size] business owners in America right now, they’ll all tell you there’s a position that they would absolutely hire someone on board if they could find the person,” said Stonehouse.
Workers continue to demand flexibility
Sahu said she wasn’t worried about finding a new job when she left investment banking in 2021. She was ready for a change. The startup she joined was acquired by social media company Pinterest earlier this year. She landed a coveted product manager position there in less than six months and still finds time for yoga, reading and other interests every week.
“It’s been amazing to take a step back and figure out how to orient my life around the choices I want to make, while still having the kind of rigor in my job that I think I really love,” she said.
Sahu’s job changes may reflect another trend some workplace management experts call a “career correction.” Instead of “quiet quitting” — or doing the bare minimum on the job — workers are intentionally switching from a culture that is quick to praise working long hours to one that puts more value on employees’ lives outside of work.
“Individuals certainly are trying to exercise their right to find employment anywhere that meets their needs: their family needs, their work needs, their location needs — all of that,” said Christie Smith, global lead of Accenture’s Talent & Organization Practice.
From “shift shock,” when a new job is very different than what you were led to believe, and “boomerang employees” who return to jobs they left, to “career cushioning” by adding new skills and reigniting your network after “loud layoffs” at high-profile companies, this year’s buzzwords for common workplace dilemmas may fade.
Yet, a new outlook for employers will endure. “The trend will continue to be an emphasis on talent,” Smith said. “The right skills, and getting those, top getting that talent into the right positions within organizations.”
Recognizing employees’ need for flexibility will be essential to filling roles.
“Fully in the office is a thing of the past, and the leaders who are hanging on to that model are going to lose the war for talent,” said Tina Paterson, a Melbourne, Australia-based consultant and author of “Effective Remote Teams.”
“Great employees always have options — and the data is so strong that people want a bit more flexibility, whether that’s hybrid or fully remote, in terms of where they work,” she added.
Sahu echoes the sentiments of many other younger workers, saying senior managers can show they understand and value their employees’ needs through their own actions.
“Making space for your kids or your hobbies, or your life that is protected, tells other folks that that is a regular habit that a successful leader can have,” she said.
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