One of Life’s Greatest Perplexities
It seems so odd and distant now.
People smoked Lucky’s, Punk Rock was explosively popular and grunge dress was in. Joe Strummer, lead singer for the Clash filled large venues and sold millions of copies that drove their 1981 album to the top of the charts.
The times were different as well as the beat of the music–but the question was the same as now.
“Should I Stay or Should I Go?”
Remember the words to their hit song?
“Darlin’ you got to let me know
Should I stay or should I go?”
The song you still hear today was all about conflicted relationships.
Today the song still resonates for relationships, but the whole post-pandemic world is also caught up in the question of “stay or go” in regards to work, life and direction.
We are in a sudden era of puzzling contradictions—and no one knows how they’ll be resolved.
Workers are in short supply in many industries— “now hiring” signs are everywhere.
But there are massive layoffs—some people who have been stably employed are suddenly and abruptly out on the street.
Other people are leaving their jobs for better opportunities. There is huge competition for people with the right skills. But many people with great resumes report that it’s not easy to find a good, new job.
Some are leaving intolerable working conditions and cultures because they just can’t and won’t take it anymore.
People are less frightened by unemployment and they are less worried about “gaps in the resume.”
People are choosing lifestyle and a personal search for meaning over security.
Some are leaving because they suddenly don’t want to do what they’ve done in the past.
Others are feeling a combination of both trapped and comfortable at home. They miss co-workers, but enjoy the flexibility.
Many want a work schedule that assures their ability to participate in their children’s education. Because of suddenly having their children at home, they understand their education better and are more able to help.
The opportunity to work from any location offers the opportunity to cut family costs dramatically – less transportation, no moving vans, minimal clothing costs, and other huge savings.
“Should I stay or should I go?” At t the end of the day, your decision should be based on your values, your sense of being valued and treated fairly at your place of employment…and your personal self-interest.
The moral contract between employer and employee is still real in some companies, but largely doesn’t exist today. You as an employee are your organization’s most valuable asset – until they can figure out how they can accomplish the corporate goal without the expense of having you on the payroll.
Better.com CEO’s Vashtal Garg’s infamous firing of 900 employees on a video call is horrifically classic. Did he do it because the company was in trouble? Quite the contrary. They had just received a massive investment. It clearly demonstrates that some organizations will shed employees at any level when they become too expensive or can be replaced.
Employees feel they have no obligation to stay with organizations other than for their own personal interests, and they don’t tend to stay long on the job—the mean for a US employee is 2.8 years. The startling average tenure for a Google employee is 1.1 years.
Yet during this part of the Pandemic, momentum has shifted toward the employee for the first time in 50 years. The shift toward the employee is very temporary. Employment will again tighten up in the next few years and AI will create a need for many fewer jobs in the future.
My thought going into the Pandemic—the most disruptive event of our economic lives— was that it would begin an economic crash far greater than the Great Depression of 1929. I thought the Pandemic would be much worse than the crash of 2008, when the stock market lost almost half of its value.
Instead, many economists are seeing the Pandemic as the prelude to one of the greatest economic booms in US history. Technology and business have more vitality and energy than I have ever seen at any other time.
So the question for us is the same:
“Should I Stay or Should I go?” Or, to put it into more common language, “Where do I go from here?”
Should I make a career move now? Is this the time to start a business? How have the Pandemic events changed the direction of your life and career in the last two years? Have these events caused you to rethink and redirect where you’re going?
Now is not the time for the faint-hearted, but if you are going to make a major move, this could be the time to do it. “Should I stay or should I go?”
Here are some ideas to consider:
- You may be on the brink of some amazing new possibilities generated by the Pandemic. The Pandemic may be one of the biggest challenges of our lives, but it might be a major opportunity. If you are a senior executive, entrepreneur, or a person on the move up, look for the best opportunities now.
- Be prepared to compete in the post-Pandemic world—it will be more fierce than ever. 30 years ago when someone took a new job, people jokingly said it would take them a year just to find the bathroom. Employers gave you time to adjust to the new organization. Today when your tenure with a company may last 3 years at most, and more like a few months to a year, employers want immediate results.
- Don’t jump ship too fast. Before you jump to the next opportunity, make sure you are not under-valuing some career-building opportunities in your current company. This is a huge time of mergers, acquisitions, and IPOs. While that can create a frustrating environment, there’s also much to be learned by going through those experiences and they add potentially important pieces to your resume and your mobility. And they may put some real cash in your pocket!
- Understand how employees are now valued. Roles and skills have back-seat value to three premier qualities.
1) Employees must understand how the organization works, and not be just cogs in the wheel.
2) Employers want to be able to measure how you’ve moved the business forward.
3) And most importantly, employers want you to be able to handle disruptive events. When a disruptive event happens—collapsing market, systems functionality suspended, sudden competitors—they want you to move forward when nobody really knows what’s going on. You must manage disruption rather than wait for someone to figure things out and tell you.
If you choose to stay, stay happy. If you choose to go, go to something you really like. The old question of “should I stay or should I go?” is based on the misery of being somewhere you hate.
When I was young, I moved back to the US from Latin America after working there for many years. I was determined to make a complete change in my life. I went to a recruiter who told me, “Jack, you have to understand that you’re going to be doing the same thing going forward for the rest of your life.” I thought to myself, “Not a chance. I want to work in something I love and where I can make a difference.” Love what you do and you’ll be successful whether you stay or go.