In Short brings to you selected Opinion pieces each week in bite-size portions. This is a shorter version of the full commentary.
The so-called Great Resignation gives the impression many people are going to quit their jobs in 2022.
In fact, even in the United States where the quit rate made headlines in the last months of 2021, it was 3 per cent. Which means 97 per cent are staying in their jobs.
In Singapore, the Ministry of Manpower tracks the resignation rate. In the first three quarters of 2021, it was 1.6 per cent for each quarter. (Data for the fourth quarter has not been updated, so the annual rate can't be calculated yet.) In 2020, it was 1.5 per cent for the whole year (which included the circuit breaker period). It was 1.8 per cent for each of the three years before that, 2017 to 2019. Even if it goes up to 2 per cent this year, it means 98 per cent remain in their jobs.
I wrote an article recently addressing the 98 per cent who are likely to remain with their employer.
This includes long-stayers like me. Last week marked the 31st year of my time as a Straits Times journalist.
What can long term job-keepers (as opposed to job hoppers or job seekers) do to remain content where we are?
I suggest some tips.
First, understand that we are the majority, and there is nothing wrong in not wanting to quit.
Second, if you've been in your company for a long time, do a health check. Is your pay stagnating? If so, understand why and resolve whether to accept it, or work towards a raise. Are you complaining more? If so, take steps to understand why and address the issue. Quitting in hopes you will be happier in the new workplace, when you have underlying issues, will just mean carrying your problems to the next employer.
Three, periodically check your market value, even if you don't have strong push factors. In my 31 year-career, I would seek out alternative employment, going for interviews or discussions to explore options, even when I was not very unhappy at work. I never stepped through the doors that nudged open, but never regretted going through the exercise of testing my market value. It gave me exposure, self-confidence, and importantly, helped me view my employer through fresh, often more grateful lenses.
To remain happy with your current employer, it's good to consider courting other employers. If an attractive option opens up, good for you. If not, you'd have gone through the exercise of knowing what is out there.
Four, work on intrinsic motivation. Pay matters up to a certain extent. Beyond that, it is all about how we feel about what we do. In the book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, American best-selling author Daniel H. Pink says people's intrinsic motivation is activated when the work they do gives them autonomy, mastery and purpose.
Autonomy is the desire to be self-directed and have control over what you do, and how you do it. Mastery is about improving one's own skills, which means its scope is unlimited as one can always try to outdo oneself. And people want work that is meaningful, to feel a sense of purpose.
I found that it helped me remain happy in my job, when I look for a way to manage my work so it gives me autonomy (this may require negotiating with your bosses), lets me master skills and deepen expertise, and when I look at the larger picture to see how my work is purposeful. After 31 years, I still love being a journalist.
I hope those joining the Great Resignation this year find jobs they are happy in.
As for the rest who remain where they are, I hope they will join the Great Refresh and come to develop a newfound liking for, and purpose in, what they do.