Updated: Jan 29
The Great Worker Resignation is not as mysterious as it seems.
Today, business owners and their teams are surrounded by confusion, dread, guilt, apprehension and anticipatory fear. They dwell on what's not happening and allow restless anxiety to fuel a chaotic flow of thoughts that push them forward, backward, up and down....nowhere.
Managers press down on these thoughts, but they refuse to go away. They pop up like the springy clowns that pop out of metal toy-boxes that infants crank and crank and then...SURPRISE!!!! HERE I AM AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!
The most nerve-racking emotion workers are experiencing is boredom. I'll make an assertion here that may shock you: workers are committing suicide because they are bored with work. They are bored with quarantine. They are bored with the ugly wrestling match for more attention and more money. With screens. With endless messages from people we don't know and never will.
Bored with the never-ending quest for more while simultaneously preparing ourselves to put up with less.
Many of the disenchanted are young employees - particularly new employees - who are stuck at home, staring vacantly at a computer screen on an endless Zoom meeting with a new boss who doesn't have time to be a mentor. Never sure what to do next...does anybody care?
To these young people, work is mostly pointless and narrow like a long dark hall. When you get to the end, you open the door. Nothing's there but failure, disappointment and scarcity. A broader perspective is critical, but seldom offered.
A more common scenario is simply is about time...time alone, working from home. Time to reflect on the core question: "Is this really the job for me? Is this what I'm meant to do?" The answer, not surprisingly, is often "No."
Despite the chaos, much of workers' activity has a flat sameness to it Stare at a screen. Do something that may or may not matter. Blend in. Have conversations focused on function and time, not relationships. ("Hi, leave a message. Bye") It's repetitive, meaningless and dull. That's why employees leave any company. It seems to be particularly common in the Nebraska business culture.
Two words can change all this: 'New' and 'Momentum.'
The first is the single most important word in business, a word that prompts us to lift our eyes and cock our heads...
New has been used for decades to sell something or put a different sheen on a standard, traditional product. But it makes even more sense now because change is everywhere. People are craving change. 30% of us are buying our products from new vendors or unfamiliar, online sites. This is true even in the business to business world where committees make deliberate, anonymous decisions about our offering.
Product development is ramping up in every firm because the 'life' of a product or service is getting shorter and shorter. Consider pushing the product development button right away. If you're not new, you're nowhere.
"We've been around a long time, you can trust us." is increasingly less relevant. It implies that the company is not in touch with the next, big thing and we all want the next big thing. What's coming? What should we prepare for? Will it change everything or just our thing?"
Going deeper, "new" is part of our self awareness. If you always hated (for instance) salsa or peanut brittle, slow down and ask yourself, "Why this flavor and not that? Where do my preferences come from? Who is this person inside of me that is always judging, rejecting? Have I been conditioned by an early experience that shaped my knee-jerk response to these food products ever since? If so, do I want to make a more conscious choice that reflects who I am becoming now?"
Bottom line: You can be new on the inside even if everything on the outside is same-old-same-old. If your mindset is new, everything you're looking at can be new as well. All you have to do is switch lens - the way you see things. You can uncover new opportunities to create value, make processes simpler or collaborate with other workers or departments.
If you realize every 'now' is new, you'll begin to see market segments that may need your product or discover other companies with whom you could collaborate to create new profits or stand out.