In this guest post, SKMG’s Sam Somers (main photo) talks the post-COVID ‘great resignation’ and the lessons he learned from quitting adland 12 months ago for the uncertainty of the freelance world and beyond…
When I made the decision to leave my job in a media agency amid the pandemic, over a year ago now, it wasn’t my best timing. In fact, in hindsight the timing couldn’t have been worse. Workplace uncertainty was rife, jobs were coveted, security was paramount. A perfect storm of things that screamed: don’t move.
The Great Resignation is now upon us. It’s been shouted from the tops of LinkedIn feeds and in business and trade media for months now. How do we know it’s about to hit? The easing of our restrictions here, coupled with the fact that resignations are currently happening in the US. If the US-Australia lag is anything to go by, well, line managers maybe check your emails.
According to the ABS, we’ve also seen a record low 7.5 per cent of workers changing jobs in the year to February 2021. It’s a meaningful lull i.e. the calm before the storm. This phenomenon is very real, with over 4.3 million people leaving their jobs in the US in August alone according to Job Openings. So, what the hell does this say for the Australian market?
Right now, you’ve probably had conversations with someone you know who wants to change jobs, to have more freedom, to live elsewhere. I can think of three people in the time it takes me to sigh. It’s a culture shift. A shedding of capitalist skin, for shiny, less abrasive capitalist skin with added flexibility.
Right now, there isn’t a better time. It’s far easier to leave when you have so many reasons why. You don’t need to explain anything to anyone.
So why did I jump the gun on the Great Resignation? For once in my life, I was ahead of the curve. But I keep thinking back on what spurred the decision. It wasn’t out of complete desperation: I had a good career trajectory in agency land and a team of people I thoroughly enjoyed working side-by-side with. Sure, lockdown was tough, hours were long, and resources were thin at times, but leaving without an immediate full-time job to go to… it just seems like a terrible decision. In hindsight, I knew if I didn’t make the change now, it might be the last time I had the confidence to chase after my passions and get my work-life balance back on track.
Going from full-time stability to freelance and contract work was a shock. On the inverse, I discovered a hunger I had previously lost, came toe to toe with The Hustle, made many mistakes, and learnt many more lessons.
Looking back, the decision was an investment. A short-term scramble for an investment into my passions, into my mental health, and into my career. So, I took the leap, or, to quote Mavis Gallant, “I held my breath and jumped. I didn’t even look to see if there was water in the pool.”
Turns out there was water in the pool after all. It came to me in the form of Shoebridge Knowles Media Group (SKMG) who took me on contractually. The two partners were experts in their field, who offered me work in an area I was familiar with (comms), the ability to hone my passion (writing), and the breathing room and flexibility that I so badly needed. It was essential in reinforcing the reasons why I left. The pandemic played a pivotal role in forcing me to reassess what makes me happy and what I was lacking in my previous role.
That’s why I jumped. It felt like a now or never moment for me back then, and it’s about to happen to a lot of Aussies. Ahead of the Great Resignation, this is what people are going to be looking for – it’s something current employers, and perhaps businesses looking to pick up some new, impassioned staff need to be aware of. Right now, Australians want their needs beyond the workplace met. They want flexibility. They want a better work-life balance. They want to know that their business is purpose-led. They want to focus on their mental health, or families, or side-projects… The list goes on.
The early bird gets the worm sure enough, but the second mouse takes part in the Great Resignation.
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