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It’s a Trap Pt 5: Work

In her blog, published prior to the pandemic, Kathy Gottberg cites statistics from a survey in Forbes Magazine asking people in 189 different countries how they felt about their jobs. According Forbes, nearly 25% of people hate their jobs while 63% are “not engaged.” Forbes interprets that to mean, “Work is more often a source of frustration than one of fulfillment for nearly 90% of the world’s workers.” This seems to be the result of an accepted attitude of ‘live to work vs work to live,’ cultivated since the industrial revolution by industry, calling for more hours and reduced leisure time, more productivity, but not always increased pay. This was the trap for a great many people. In the last couple of years all this is being challenged by an emerging trend.

During the pandemic, and since then, a significant shift has been taking place in people’s attitudes towards their jobs and the work they do. It’s called The Great Resignation. According to Willis Towers Watson’s 2022 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey, these are some of the trends, when it comes to work, that make the Great resignation look like the Great Escape.

44% of employees are “job seekers.” Of them, 33% are active job hunters who looked for new work in the fourth quarter of 2021, and 11% planned to look in the first quarter of 2022.

Nearly 4.3 million people quit their jobs in January, just shy of a monthly record set in November, according to most recent federal data. Almost 48 million people quit in 2021, an annual record.

Data suggests most aren’t quitting to sit on the sidelines — a strong job market with ample opportunities and higher pay are luring them to find work elsewhere, according to economists. Some are reinventing their careers altogether. Over half of workers (56%) said pay is a top reason they’d look for a job with a different employer.

One of the biggest disconnects between workers and employers is around remote work. Employees want more remote work than they expect their current employer to allow.

Currently, 26% of survey respondents are always or mostly working from home, and 15% have an equal split between home and the office; but higher shares (36% and 22%, respectively) would prefer remote work.

Data suggest this is not just an American trend, but a global trend resulting from the impact of the global pandemic as presented by economist in an CNBC report. The report looks at

some of the effects of the Great Resignation on the economy and consequently on our financial wellbeing. ‘The problem is not just a U.S. one, with many countries around the world experiencing a shortage of workers. It matters because it’s exacerbating supply chain disruptions around the globe, with key industries struggling to regain momentum due to a lack of workers or raw materials. This disrupts both local and global production and supply networks, hampering economic growth and causing product and service shortages for consumers.’ What this means for many people is rising prices for goods and services, and perhaps a new, and for some, a familiar trap in a changing economic and workforce landscape. How do we navigate this new emerging work trend and maintain our financial wellbeing?

In working with people since the beginning of the pandemic there’s a few things I recognize happening that suggest an escape from one trap for some (The Great Resignation), creates traps for others (consequences; shortages, inflation and different type of stressors).

More people are working from home, including spouses and singles. The traps here to be avoided:

Are you working long hours?

If possible, set good work boundaries with a cut off time for working and taking calls.

Do you recognize when stress of the workplace is transferred to home?

The absence of workplace politics and social interactional stress may be lowered, but the job expectations and performance may be the same or even more. If this is the case, make stress management an important aspect of your work from home routine.

How has work from home impacted the quality of your relationships at home? Or your social relationships if you're single?

The risk of work challenges interfering in family and social relationship dynamics have increased. To reduce the risk of this, be mindful of your emotional state to prevent work related emotional reactions from being misplaced onto family and friends.

Do you let others know when experiencing work stress?

By doing so, you can reduce the influence on your behavior. When experiencing work stress, it can turn into withdrawal and holding in emotions that affect the dynamics of your relationships with your partner, family and friends. Communicate more. Express how you’re feeling can also lower interference in home life and friendships.

How all this will eventually resolve itself is still unclear. But one thing we know for sure is that the economic climate right now affects us all and can pose a formidable financial trap that can impact our mental health.

To minimize this there are some simple things you can do.

  • Adjust your spending habits

  • Budget to gain a clear picture of income vs outflow

  • Create a multi year financial plan

For these to work requires one additional thing. The self-discipline to stick with it.

Please feel free to share your thoughts or leave a comment.

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