One Sunday evening about 15 years ago, as I was packing my bag for my early Monday morning flight, my five-year-old son, Jack, stomped up to me with tears streaming down his face and a phone in his hand demanding I give him my boss’s phone number. When I asked him why, he told me it was because he was going to tell my boss “to make you not work so much because I never get to see you.”
It was a gut punch.
But it was also a wake-up call that Jack was making. I was working long hours, traveling constantly, and coming home exhausted. I was seeing many promotions and raises, but I was giving a lot of myself to achieve my goals.
That night, I sat down with my wife and reevaluated my current job, my long-time career aspirations, and my personal goals. What did I really want from this job? I thought it was to provide the best life for my family – but if my kindergartner thinks he needs to call my boss for a job restructure, then clearly, I was not achieving my goal.
The result was a no holds barred conversation about what did my job need from me and what did I need from it in a way that would make my life (and in turn my family’s lives) better. What compromises could I make and what could I ask of my company to partner with me in achieving my true goal of being the best employee, while at the same time being the best all-around person with a full life. Happily, I was able to find a way to be successful at both home and work. At the time, that type of discussion with an organization was a little unusual. Work/life balance was a topic, but companies were only willing to go so far to accommodate employees.
Today, those conversations are much more common. As we roll into the second half of 2021, in a revised work environment brought on by Covid, employees have different expectations and are standing firm with their work/life balance demands.
A survey by FlexJobs found that 58% of workers would quit their job if they could not keep remote work. But it goes beyond flexibility to the heart of what people are wanting from their jobs. The Wall Street Journal reported that 7.5 million people quit their jobs in April and May and more than a third of workers are looking for a new job, according to a May survey of 1,021 Americans from PricewaterhouseCoopers. People are wanting different things from their employment, and they will quit to get it.
This is the greatest shift to the individual needs of the employees that I have ever seen.
This shift (which I believe was needed) is requiring a huge response from companies trying to accommodate employees, especially in many markets where there is a shortage of talent. Companies are amenable to rethinking employment, especially as Covid has forced changes in the way we work beyond simply safety concerns. It means that all members of the equation are apart of rewriting the rules of the workforce.
For companies, it has become an absolute requirement to get on board with this plan if you want to keep the best talent.
For employees, it is an opportunity to have more of what you want from your career. And while I recommend people be open to new job possibilities, the question is not necessarily what you can get from somewhere else, but what do you want and need from a career regardless if it is where you are currently – or with someplace new.
It is a good time for some personal reflection and a few exercises to help with the process:
Rate your current work happiness level on a 3-point scale
Most evaluation processes give a wide scale of one to ten, or levels of satisfaction with multiple options. Where it gets interesting is if you make it only three choices regarding your satisfaction with your job: happy, satisfied or unhappy. When you eliminate the variations of happiness, you have a much clearer picture of your current state.
List the top 3 things you want from your job right now
When asking this question, the three common answers I usually receive are good compensation, opportunities for advancement and work/life balance. Those are throwaway answers because everyone wants those. Think instead about what you want to be able to do in a normal week. Think about the value you want to provide or the recognition you might crave. Think about how you want to be valued. Think about when you want to be home and how much you want to work. What is really important to you? These answers are different for everyone.
Pick the top 3 things you want in the long-term
To keep you from making any rash decisions, you need to balance your current state with your future desires. Think about where you want to be in 12 months. And then look beyond that to three years, five years, ten years… You may not know exactly what you want that far into time but try to have a match between what you want in the present that also makes it possible to achieve what you want in the future.
Regardless of how well the current company measures up in this evaluation, I encourage you to share that list with your boss to give your current employer an opportunity to meet or maintain your career goals. Solutions or support are rarely forthcoming by employers who are unaware of specific challenges or aspirations. And if your current company cannot offer you what you need to be happy, this is the time to make a move.
The most successful arrangements will be those that create a true partnership between employees and employers to achieve goals that benefit everyone.
About the Author
Rich Thompson, CEO of XPG Recruit, is an expert on staffing, human resources, training and leadership development. To get your copy of the XPG Recruit Ebook The Great Rehire, simply request it here or send an email to info@XPGRecruit.com For consulting to increase engagement and/or retention, check out the services of our sister company, Xtra Point Group.