Be honest now — when was the last time you thought about quitting your job?
Was it two weeks ago, because that’s when you were ordered to return to the office, or two minutes ago, because that’s when you realized that, if you do go back, you’ll never again get the chance to watch “Oprah”? Either way, you are not alone.
Ask the Economist magazine.
“Workers are quitting jobs at rates not seen this century,” says the hoity-toity British publication. “In April, according to preliminary data from the Department of Labor, 2.7% of the workplace quit their jobs — well above the previous peaks of 2.4%, briefly reached in 2001 and 2019.”
There are good reasons to take that job and shove it. Many willing workers are having trouble finding affordable child care, while other employees may balk at a return to the petri dish of disease that is the modern office. Also on the table are concerns that workers, who are receiving an extra $300 a week in federal unemployment benefits, may decide that, instead of going back to work, they’ll use their windfall to buy a 400-foot superyacht and cruise the Cote d’Azur. Or so 25 Republican governors apparently believe, which explains why they took an ax to the program. (If you’re wondering why Jeff Bezos’ 400-foot superyacht just showed up on Craigslist, now you know.)
One obvious motivation driving the quitters is the plethora of bright shiny new jobs now available, many in the area of food service.
Don’t turn up your nose.
Why not put your art history degree to work as an Alley Coordinator, a Prince of Parsley, artistically arranging garnishes at a nearby Olive Garden? “Non-managerial wages in the hospitality sector hit a record of $15.70 per hour in April,” according to the Economist. I don’t think the Museum of Modern Art pays that much.
As someone who has left many jobs in the past, though never quite voluntarily, here are a few of the circumstances that say, “It’s time to quit.”
No. 1: The big boss calls you by your first name.
What some see as a gesture of familiarity, savvy workers recognize as a sign of trouble ahead. As long as the big boss knows you as “What’s their face?” or “Whozit?” you are probably safe from an appearance before the HR firing squad. Remember the basic rule of employment security — if they don’t know you, they can’t fire you.
No. 2: You’re offered a big raise, and you never even asked.
Some employers are trying to retain their workers, and, as a very last resort, are actually handing out raises. The money is nice, of course, but beware — if your company starts paying you a decent wage, they may expect something from you in return — like work.
No. 3: Managers want your opinion.
One of the real advantages of your current position is that nobody listens to you. If higher-ups start asking your opinion on important business issues, it’s a clear sign you are about to be blamed for a major management blunder you had nothing to do with.
No. 4: HR people want to talk about your “feelings”.
The scariest words you will ever hear from an HR person have to be: “Are you happy here?” In the past, these four words invariably presaged a termination notice, but in today’s topsy-turvy world of employment, you will have to decide whether to add the nightmare of ongoing therapy to your job, or just find another position where they don’t care if you are happy and leave you alone.
No. 5: You’re invited to continue working from home.
As attractive as the prospect of continuing to work in your bathrobe in your bedroom may be, it could become a little crazy-making when you know that your managers are almost certainly looking to replace you with someone who will suit up and come to work. This could be a problem if there is anything at all attractive about your job. However, if your job is actually as miserable as you think it is, don’t quit. They’ll never find anyone dumb enough to take your place.
It may well be that you will return to work to find nothing has changed. The big boss will still not know who you are. Your managers will still ignore your opinions. The HR staff will continue to circle your workspace like vultures, ready to swoop in and exit you out. If this is the case, definitely do not quit.
Your job may be awful, but it sure beats working.
Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at [email protected] To find out more about Bob Goldman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.