Gallup's State of the Global Workplace Report 2021 describes how the pandemic has decreased job engagement with "roughly 7 in 10 employees struggling or suffering, rather than thriving, in their overall lives." As defined by Gallup, an employee is engaged at work if they “are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.”
The report describes the negative emotions that these people are experiencing—worry, stress, anger, and sadness. Of course, these feelings have existed before COVID-19, but the pandemic has added to the number of people who are not engaged or thriving in their work. The report goes on to say that even if we return to pre-COVID-19 levels, it is likely that employees' mental health levels will get worse.
What about you? Are you feeling engaged or not engaged in your work? Are you thriving or burning out? The pandemic may have given you time and motivation to reevaluate your career and where you want to be in the future.
If you are feeling unengaged and/or burned out, you are not alone. A survey published by the World Economic Forum says, “anywhere from 25 to 40% of employees are thinking about quitting their jobs.”
"The Great Resignation,” as named by economists, has resulted not only from employees feeling unengaged but also from employees struggling to get motivated to go back to the office after having the freedom of working from home. If this is you, here are some steps you can take to either make your current job a better fit, or find a new job where you will feel engaged:
1. Take time out in your life for prayer, reflection, and decision making.
Don’t quit your job until you have taken time to pray for wisdom from God. James 1:5 tell us “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” God can be counted on to provide you with wisdom as you evaluate your work and to make well thought out decisions. Some of the wisdom may come from others including friends, mentors, and career counselors.
2. Apply the career development stages to your decision-making.
When work doesn’t fit well or you are unengaged and feel like quitting, it will be important to take the right steps during your time out. The career development stages can maximize your ability to make wise decisions. The stages and key questions with each stage are:
- Assess / create your life calling map: Who am I? What is my God-given design?
- Explore options / envision your "God-sized calling": Which careers (or self-employment opportunities) potentially fit my design? Which would give me a sense of mission and purpose in my work?
- Make decisions and plans: Which option best fits my design (and other important criteria such as the impact on family, salary needs, etc.)? Which best enables me to make a contribution to making this world a better place? In which do I believe I could serve God and others most effectively? Which do I believe God is calling me to pursue? What are the plans needed to take me from where I am now to work that fits with who I am?
- Take appropriate action (conducting a job search; gaining training/education; beginning self-employment, etc.): What are the necessary action steps to achieving my career dream/goal? How do I obtain a job in my chosen field? What are the best job search strategies to use? How do I best market myself? Or What is the sequence of steps I need to take to successfully become self-employed?
These career development steps will help you to make wise decisions and find work that is meaningful, purposeful, and rewarding. You can learn more about these career development steps in the article: "Career Master Planning: How to Find Work You Love to Do." You can also get assistance in making wise decisions by taking advantage of professional career testing and career counseling. You can learn more here.
3. Ask your employer for changes in where you work.
If you have been working from home during the pandemic and loving it, you now may now face going back into the office. If you want more freedom or balance in your work life, you might ask to work remotely for a few days a week, or if desired, you might ask to work from home permanently.
If your employer says no to this arrangement, you can ask if they would be open to testing whether you can be more productive by working at home. If they say yes to this test, make sure to document the ways you have been more productive due to fewer distractions and the travel time saved.
Because of the pandemic, many employers realize that need to provide their employees with more flexibility. If you can make a persuasive argument, it is to their advantage to say yes!
4.Ask your employer for changes in what you are doing.
This may also be a good time to request changes in your job duties. If you take time to think through the needs of your employer and organization, you can draft a job description that would meet those needs. Along with this ideal job description and the needs that it would meet, write a targeted resume (you can learn more about resume writing here) that showcases why you would be the right person to do that job. Many jobs are created by employers to meet needs in the organization.
A part of the dialogue about a new job description can include the development of a 30-60-90-day plan. This plan articulates your intentions in the first 30, 60, and 90 days of the new job you have described. The plan should list your goals and action steps to meet those goals. The plan should also document how this will save the employer time and money or both. You can learn more and get a template here.
5. Focus on how God has used the pandemic in your life.
Whether or not your employer says yes to making changes in your job and where you do your work, God may have used the time during the pandemic to prompt you in evaluating your work. You may have come to the conclusion that you need to change your job or career direction. You may have found that you need to be at the office rather than being at home to do your best work. Or you may have found that working at home brings balance to your life that you never expected.
6. Take the right action.
No matter what you have learned, it is important to set goals for your work life and then to take the needed action to attain those goals. This can include determining where you want to be in your career within 12 months and then working backward to determine the needed steps to get there. Work backward to the point that you have small action steps that you can take today. Some of the actions could come from the suggestions above.
Much has changed in the last many months of COVID-19 which brought many hardships and caused many people to struggle in their work and lives. While we hope to never see another pandemic, there may have been some blessings including a prompting to consider if you should ask for changes in your current job or finding a new job that is a much better fit. You just may find that COVID-19 was a turning point to finding rewarding work that fits your God-given design.