According to recent reports, over 70% of the people leaving the workforce in The Great Resignation are people 55 years and older. WOW! That’s a huge knowledge base. Think about all the talent, experience, skills, dropping out of our workforce. Will they consider coming back?
“We were all able to take a step back in the last year and spend more time doing other things and really question the value of what we’re doing at work,” said Anthony Klotz, a management professor at Texas A&M University.
An interesting quote. One that answers what is really going on. I love a good quote because it simply and concisely conveys a profound observation that forces one to think outside our routines and biases.
So folks are questioning the value of the work they were doing. I know so many people who decided to retire, only to return to the workforce a year or two later (even before the pandemic and The Great Resignation). Retirement turned out to be less fun and fulfilling than they thought it would be. So now there’s a new perspective on value.
Work gives us purpose. It occupies our mind. Typically it provides us with a mechanism for some human connection. Things we all need to remain sane. Apparently frequently retirement falls short of providing new retirees with that fulfillment.
I believe many of the Great Resignation dropouts will be ready to check back in, hopefully soon. And it won’t be solely for a paycheck. It will be for bigger, more personal reasons. I don’t think all the Great Resignation retirees will return to the workforce to do work like they previously did. They’ll come back with greater perspective about what they want in life, with a different view of how to serve and be productive, and with a different tolerance (or lack thereof) of how to be treated. Work for them will specifically be to provide personal satisfaction. They figured out how to survive through a pandemic and now returning to work will be for personal fulfillment.
This presents us with a very exciting possibility. The dropouts can teach us something. They have decades of experience! Not just job skills and rote experience. They bring all those skills marinated with years of practice in collaboration, critical thinking, interpersonal communications, and larger than life perspective. This value is priceless.
“Get busy living, or get busy dying.”
– Ellis Boyd Redding (Red from Shawshank Redemption)
For those that dropped out of the workforce, they may realize how work gives purpose and ignites energy. But having newly found freedom and flexibility will also open their eyes to the talent and skills they have to offer. And that will lead to those newly minted retirees ready to break out on their own and do things their own way. They’ll offer their services to help others, but under their own terms and conditions. They’ll choose what projects and types of work they are willing to do. They’ll start their own businesses. And best of all, they’ll focus on the things they do well, which is, no surprise, usually work they enjoy. As social security inches farther and farther away, this group will realize they have many more productive years ahead of them than previously thought.
This can be such a huge win for everyone. Think about how the active workforce can benefit! I hope all the up-and-coming small business owners I know will recognize this opportunity and leverage it for all it’s worth! Reach out to those Great Resignation dropouts and learn from them!
"If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room."
- Jack Welch
For those trying to build their businesses, the brain trust of those who come back from The Great Resignation could be the difference between scaling quickly or languishing. I strongly suggest you seek and find these diamonds in the rough.
And for those who decided to check out during The Great Resignation and realize it’s not as fun or fulfilling as you thought it would be, I have a couple great sayings for you as well.
"One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now."
- Paulo Coelho
Now is the time to assess what you enjoyed doing in your work life and find a way to transform that into something productive. What can you teach others??? There are entrepreneurs out there that need to learn from you! Teaching can come in the form of consulting, independent work, joining a team, or starting your own business.
And finally, here’s one of my all-time favorite quotes that, even though it’s over 100 years old, it rings even more true today:
“The best way to predict your future is to create it."
For all those who dropped out, or are considering dropping out of the workforce, give Mr. Lincoln’s observation some serious thought. You owe it to yourself and the rest of us would really appreciate learning what you can teach us. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Jodi Henson is a small business expert, author, entrepreneur and
founder of The Softer Side of Success (www.thesoftersideofsuccess.com).She works with aspiring and existing small business owners to help them overcome challenges and attain their goals.For those who are contemplating starting a new business,check out her course How To Vet Your Business Idea (and Know If You’re Ready To Take The Leap).If you are looking to define your next steps, contact her at jodi@thesoftersideofsuccess