In principle, this is a big hug to you all, a reach out to say holidays are coming. Summer is in the air, and soon, you’ll be able to veg out. It won’t rain all the time, you’ll be able to close down your screens and diaries, and embrace friends and family in just a few weeks’ time.
I want to do all this, including giving you all a hug (if you like hugs). Like many of you, I also want to stop working for a while, mingle with humanity, go to a restaurant, just walk along a street, where people are laughing and talking.
I love my dogs and cats (and my wonderful husband and second son, who I have shared this endless lockdown with) but hey, there is more to life than this bundle, despite the great love I have for them – 2 legged and 4.
Two years of intense work, complex landscapes, emotional ups and downs, plans made, and plans disrupted, bouts of fear and anxiety, depression and self-doubt, coupled with hope, collaboration, success I thought wouldn’t happen, and individuals and organisations a plenty who I have worked with and built friendships with… have for me, like most of you, left me questioning… What’s happening to our lives? What’s next? How do we learn from the journey and stick with our instincts about what needs to change and why?
Here are my thoughts about what we can and need to focus on:
I think the first four are likely self-evident to you all, but it’s the fifth dot point I want to talk about, especially in a time where mental health and well-being are (or should be) at the forefront of most people’s thinking.
It is important to understand that protracted periods of lockdown have caused people to think about lots of things from … when will I see my brother/sister/son/daughter/mother/father/best friend, in a setting other than my own sitting room/backyard/local park.
Lots of us have had periods of what is referred to as existential dread, diving into parts of our own psyche has left us wondering about whether our lives have meaning or purpose or value.
Even more have questioned how we are working as much as why. During the thick of the crisis, we bunkered down and did our bit. Right now, however, we are questioning our choices including where we will work in 2021 and, indeed how.
Just recently, a Microsoft study found that 41 per cent of the global workforce is considering leaving their employer this year. This is happening as countries open for business, travel, entertainment – as life gets back to the ‘new normal’.
But of course, ‘new normal’ isn’t ‘normal’, even though some leaders think it is, expecting us to return to the office and work 9 – 5, forgetting what it meant to be flexible, trusted, working from home, eliminating travel time, sensitive to ‘whole of life’ needs.
Internationally, a phenomenon is emerging which is coming to Australia, termed The Great Resignation. Apparently, resignations are highest amongst mid-career employees 30 – 45 years old. It could be that they postponed job changes during Covid (it would make sense), or it could be they recognise the bargaining power they have. They have the expertise and knowledge necessary to effectively work from home (largely acquired on the job with others), and they have a compelling reason to change – more time for the whole of their lives.
This is happening concurrent with an explosion in commercial activity as unleashed growth plans start to fuel business performance and so the need for staff.
I have attached a few articles for you to read (which our wonderful Mahala Summers has put together to share), to get a sense of the scale of change that is happening worldwide. We could blame employers for insensitivity to burnout in staff, or thoughtlessness in return-to-work strategies. It could be if you were inflexible, unsupportive or simply not present as a leader through Covid, that it’s coming back to bite you in the butt.
But I’m not sure it matters why this is happening. What matters more is the opportunity it presents to us all and the impact it could have on the way we live.
First, we must deal with dot point 1, in this article. Apparently, a survey of 25 countries found Australian workers are the most burnt out in the world, with one in two employees having had to take or on mental health leave.
Second, we all must recognise that our world has changed (and we hope for the better) and workplaces that don’t accommodate the way people want to work, likely won’t survive – talent will have many choices.
Third, the choices we make now could have a significant impact on our planet. I used to travel 2 – 3 times a week, going to events around Australia and overseas. I haven’t travelled since December 2019. I miss the face-to-face component of what I do and hope some of that returns, but the truth is, like many people, I have built skills over the last 18 months with online delivery that make this as engaging as face-to-face for many people.
Importantly, how has my carbon footprint reduced consequently? And if this is multiplied out to the millions of changes like this around our world, what is the real potential benefit to the planet of a permanent change of this magnitude?
Fourth, the challenge of the pandemic, as I have often said, is not a one-off. We are facing a defining decade for our planet and for humanity. The choices we make as we emerge from this global confinement will shape our future.
So, finally, the fifth point – you and the choices you make.
I know many of you are so burnout now, you can’t think about much more than getting to second week of December or the end of the year. Just consider, however, when that time comes, and you have your chosen beverage in hand, out in the backyard, or in a park with friends, that this is our time to wrangle back control of our lives, and in doing this, we will together build a healthier, more engaged, more aligned, and more considered world of work.
People, profit, and planet.
Founder, Speaker, Senior Consultant & Coach
To find out how we can help you, please contact us at Dattner Group.
Some reading from Mahala!