Is The Grass Greener?
According to the Department of Labor, a record 4.5 million people quit their job in November of 2021, representing about 3% of the workforce. 2021 will hold the record for the highest number of workers who quit their job in any given year since the bureau began recording these statistics in 2000. So far, there doesn’t seem to be much let up going into 2022. What’s going on? New opportunities for lower wage earners, concerns over COVID, workplace mask mandates, childcare issues, the desire to work from home, the strong candidate market, and the need for employers to fill positions; are just some of the factors that are contributing to what’s being called “The Great Resignation.”
Like most organizations, we’ve experienced some unexpected turnover from those being lured away to other firms. I don’t think anyone is immune to this phenomenon right now. We do our best to make this a great place to work and to pay people fairly but if you go looking hard enough, someone is always willing to offer you more money. The question is – what are you giving up for that extra dollar?
To that point, let me tell you a story about a guy who sought greener pastures to only find himself in the middle of a field full of sticker burrs and cow manure. Greener pastures he did not find, and that individual happens to be yours truly. My hope in sharing this, whether you work here or somewhere else, is to give you some things to think about before you consider moving jobs.
I started at M&S in 2007 and very much enjoyed my role here. At the time, we had about 40 employees and one office location. The firm was growing and doing well and there were plenty of challenging opportunities to have kept me engaged, especially had I taken a little more initiative upon myself.
Unfortunately, I had some personality issues that always led me to become unsettled in my work after a few years, wherever I was working. Up to this point, the longest I had been in any one organization was 4 years. My resume had “job hopper” written all over it. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the places I worked, it was a sense of always thinking there was something better for me at the next place. Additionally, I think I had an unhealthy amount of FOMO (fear of missing out), impatience, some plain old bad decision making, and just a general frustration of not knowing what I wanted to be when I grew up.
In 2010, I was recruited to work in another field for more money and what sounded like more opportunity. That allure of something “different” was just what my impatient, FOMO self-wanted to hear, and I thought it would scratch that itch that couldn’t be addressed in my current role. Spoiler alert – I was wrong. Very wrong.
During the recruitment process, I was made to feel important which did nothing but pump up my ego. Boy, was I falling for it hook line and sinker?
It’s not like I didn’t take leaving seriously. I loved the people I worked with, was doing work I enjoyed, and was a part of a company giving me freedom to make my job what I thought it needed to be. It really was good. But, for whatever reason, I got enamored by the shiny new object in front of me.
I thought long and hard about the move and ultimately decided to leave in June.
My new boss who was so flattering during the interview process turned out to be quite different on day one. To be kind, he turned out to be a tyrant micro manager. I mean of the worst kind. This was the first time I had ever been managed like this and it was quite unpleasant. He constantly questioned me, checked in on me, and was breathing down my neck for absolutely no good reason. He showed no level of trust in me. I’ve since realized how important it is to be and feel trusted in your position. This situation was the antithesis of how I was managed at M&S.
What struck me working in that culture was how lonely and isolated it felt. There was no team. There was no one who had your back. The boss was just waiting for you to screw up so he could smack your knuckles with a ruler. Building and fostering relationships in this environment didn’t matter much because they didn’t matter to the CEO. It was about numbers and the results – and it sucked.
What about all the stuff I had left for? All the opportunity? The new challenges? What about the higher pay?
Those things had always been right in front of me at M&S. All I had to do was take a little personal responsibility and have some patience. Instead, I had pushed the easy button and got burned.
I realize there are legitimate reasons to leave a job and understand sometimes it is time to move on. However, this was not the case.
By now it’s October. I was such a mess that I couldn’t sleep, I lost 20 pounds because I had no appetite from anxiety, and I couldn’t think straight. To me, there was no amount of money worth staying in this job. After hating life for 4 months, I had to do something. So, I reached back out to Brian (Meuth) and asked if he would meet me for lunch, and with hat in hand; I asked him for my job back. I’m sure it was more like begging. Thankfully, my position had not been filled yet and by the grace of God and the kindness of Brian – he agreed to let me come back to M&S.
On my birthday, I gave myself the best present by resigning that position and hopping back over the fence to the pasture where I belong(ed). The grass is just fine here. Is it perfect all the time? No. But, it is great place to work!
M&S is a place where I am given the autonomy to do my job, the tools and support I need, a reasonable wage do to it, and the opportunity to be a part of a TEAM of GREAT people who all care about each other, and who are doing their best to take care of our clients. It doesn’t really get any better than that for me. Honestly – it doesn’t need to be. From my experience, you would think the simple characteristics I just outlined would be fairly common in most workplaces. It’s rarer than you think.
So, what did I learn from my experience in seeking that “new opportunity”:
- Instead of being impatient or unsure about my long-term career prospects at M&S, I should have sat down across from Brian and communicated with him in an open and honest way. Good managers want to help you, want to keep you, and want you to succeed. I know Brian would have given me some good guidance and assurance if I’d had only given him the opportunity to do so.
- I should have taken some personal responsibility for “owning” my position and found ways to further challenge myself and help my team/company. Instead, I thought some opportunity at some unknown place, with unknown people was going to satisfy my discontent. There were and are a lot of “knowns” that are pretty great here. Have I said how much I like it here???
- Money is not everything. There is always someone who can pay you more. Cash is only a part of the reason you work somewhere. What’s the culture like? What are the people like? How are people managed? Do you have flexibility? Do they have integrity in the way they operate? I had it all right in front of me and I still walked away. I had to learn a very hard and valuable lesson. M&S offers a place of balance and the intangibles more than outweigh any offer additional cash someone tries to throw at me.
- This place is really special because of the people that work here. More than anything, when I left, I missed the people and my relationships. There is just a lot of good people here.
So, before jumping into the great resignation pool, wherever you work – take some time to really analyze what factors are at play in your desire to leave. If there are some things you can personally take ownership and responsibility for, do something about it and talk to your manager about it. And for goodness sake don’t just chase a dollar. You’re building a career which doesn’t happen overnight. Have some patience and don’t be shortsighted like I was. You may find that you too are right where you belong.
– Jason Jones