Toya Gavin, the DC-based founder of career coaching service Legally Bold, has advice for both employees looking for a change and employers who want to retain them.
In the first few weeks of 2022, we’ve already felt the effects of the famed Great Resignation of 2021, when an unprecedented number of workers quit their jobs (hello, permanent remote work options). But as of right now, many employees and employers alike are still at a loss about how to make their next move.
Toya Gavin, the DC-based founder of career coaching service Legally Bold primarily serving lawyers, says there were a few reasons 2021 was such a big time for resignation letters. But one major trend? People stopped being afraid to quit.
“With the pandemic and the stresses of running their household and everything else with their job, [there was] a backlog of employees who were planning to resign prior to the pandemic, and then they stayed because they got scared,” Gavin told Technical.ly. “And now they’re like, ‘Yeah, I’m not scared anymore. I’m out of here.'”
Alongside the employees who put off leaving until now, Gavin attributes a few different contributors to the trend: burnout, desire for remote work, and people wanting to find a job they truly enjoy or that has a real impact. The latter reason was especially motivating for BIPOC employees, she noted, who were looking for more from their companies.
“For people of color, and in particular, Black people, where you see that play out is along the impact line,” Gavin said. “They want to make an impact and they also want to feel connected to their workplace, and there’s a sense of disconnection when you’re working in an environment that doesn’t see you.”
Employees considering a major change, first, consider your purpose.
But The Great Resignation, and job changing in general, are a bit more complicated than simply deciding to leave. For many, it’s difficult to determine when, exactly, is the right time to make the switch — when you already have a new job lined up? Should you take some time off first? Each person and each situation is different. In general, though, Gavin said, once you start seriously thinking about it, you’re ready. But you can’t make the move without some kind of change.
“People think: It’s OK, I quit and I saved some money and what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna read these self-help books and get on the Peloton every day for 60 days and I got it,” Gavin said. “And that’s not what’s going to happen. If you don’t have a plan or create a plan to do that, when the savings start to dwindle, when the job you thought you were going to get doesn’t really look like the one you wanted, you’re going to panic.”
The first step, she said, is to really sit down and think about your purpose. Many people have some kind of an idea about what theirs is, but they haven’t taken the time to put specific language around it. She recommends asking yourself a couple of key questions:
What are my interests?
What group do I want to impact?
What skills do I want to use?
What values am I interested in?
How much money do I need to make?
What type of environments work for me?
Once you’ve figured all that out, she recommends putting it into words in a “Purpose Statement” and said it’s important to not limit yourself or confuse your interests with the skills and experience you already have.
“Putting language around your purpose is so important and I often tell them to start there,” Gavin said. “Start with curiosity. Start with your purpose, as opposed to obtaining this mythical passion that some of us never get to. I think passion just comes after you’ve mastered something, so you’re at the beginning stages, really.”
There are “mental hurdles” to overcome when considering a move, she said. But in the same way that employees are anxious about whether the next gig will be better than what they had, employers are also anxious about retaining current employees and attracting the best talent. In response, they’re changing their own policies and procedures to accommodate employee needs.
As a result, Gavin thinks we can expect to go back down to a normal range of resignations in the next year or so with improved workplace practices.
“I think culturally we’ve reached a point with the employee population as a whole where there are certain things people are just not going to take,” she said. “They’re just not taking it anymore and I think employers are responding to this.