The great resignation we’re leaving behind for future generations
Unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the great resignation. As the term suggests, it refers to swathes of people tendering in their resignation and quitting their jobs. This came about after the pandemic made people rethink their priorities. They realized that long commutes and cultures that devoured them weren’t worth their time and effort. In my opinion, the great resignation has been a slow-moving coup. The pandemic only hastened the process that had already been set in motion.
When we think about legacy, we think about what we will leave behind for our children and future generations. And every generation feels they are better than the generations that preceded them.
But how do we think about the world of work we’re leaving behind for future generations?
Jerry Colonna is a life coach to founders. In his podcast Reboot, he delves deep into topics, and it isn’t always easy listening. In one of the episodes aptly titled ‘What kind of company do you want to work for’ he asks his guests a question — ‘are you building a company where your children want to work?’
It’s a simple question with profound implications.
A lot of things that were acceptable in my schooling days are a no-go in these times. I’ve had teachers who caned, slapped and whipped students. Today, such incidents can cause a frenzy in parents and leave teachers without jobs. While education has a long way to go when providing practical knowledge, the tide is slowly changing. More parents are opting for alternative schooling, and cohort-based learning has picked up in a big way.
The world of work is a different story. While my parents worked just one job their entire working lives, I’ve changed more than my fair share of jobs. While offices and perks have become fancier, there are more conversations around mental health in the workplace, considered anathema even ten years back.
If you leave behind debts and a ramshackle house for your children, they will curse you. But what of the workplaces we’re leaving behind? If your child could magically slip into your work shoes for a day, what will they see?
Will they see a place where everyone dreams of quitting, or will they see one where people treat each other with respect?
Will they see a place where people’s potentials are harnessed or where their dreams are crushed by politicking and an oppressive culture?
Will they come back and say they don’t know how you work there, or that they’re proud that you work there?
I’m not sure the great resignation is an answer as much as it is a symptom. The world of work has changed drastically. It went from working in a place for your entire life to working in a place for a few years to working on your terms in a cafe.
Many of my ideas on work came from seeing my parents. They worked in the same job and had the same routine. And that’s what I thought I would do when I got into a big agency in advertising — work there for my entire life. I was so naive that I used to wonder why people quit big agencies. After I got into them, I realized why.
I think it’s time to call bullshit on the cultures we’re creating in the name of ‘hustle’. They’re not sustainable and they’re injurious to mental health. I can imagine a zombie movie of sorts where fancy offices are ghost towns, emptied of people.
As parents, you spend the initial years trying to protect your child as much as possible. At some point, you need to let go and allow them to experience things for themselves. I’m not sure I want to raise our daughter to be boorish and hyper-competitive to stand out in the workplace. If anything, it’s a poor reflection of the cultures we’re leaving behind.
It’s a question worth asking:
Are you building/working in a place where your children will want to work?
Till next time
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