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Employees are quitting in record numbers to start their own business

You may have heard about the “Great Resignation” in recent months, in which more and more employees are leaving their jobs in a mass exodus, no longer satisfied with their work. The movement has been brought on by a variety of factors according to a survey released last week by Digital.com. 

The survey cited many concerns that have influenced employees in their decisions to leave their jobs including desire for better pay/benefits (44%), focus on health (42%), finding a job they are passionate about (41%), and the desire to work from home indefinitely (37%). Additionally, one-third (32%) of respondents expressed the desire to start their own businesses and be their own boss. 

the great resignation,

The Great Resignation: Why employees are quitting in record numbers. (Map photo created by rawpixel.com on freepik)

Employees are reluctant to give up their “new normal”

COVID-19 pandemic completely changed our way of life and how we work and how work is valued. As we all adapted to the changes, many grew to enjoy the freedom of working from home

The pandemic showed us a different way of life, one where work could still be accomplished without being chained to a desk in a drab cubicle for eight hours a day. The flexibility of remote work is something many are not eager or willing to give up. Workers are prioritizing themselves more since the pandemic began, focusing on both their physical and mental health. As COVID-19 variants continue to spread, some worry about their health with the return to in-person work. Others are putting their mental health first, finding more joy in working from home. For these individuals, returning to the confinement of the office is a deal-breaker. From these concerns and desires, more and more employees have embraced The Great Resignation, finally putting themselves first and prioritizing their needs. 

In a Bloomberg article, one employee shared her story, in which a six-minute meeting drove her to quit her job. Portia Twidt, 33, said that this meeting was the last straw, “I had just had it,” she shared. 

The six-minute in-person meeting was one that could easily have been a remote video call. Instead, Twidt got dressed, left her two children at daycare, and drove to work just for a brief chat. 

In recent months, this scene has become more and more frequent as bosses attempt to return to the pre-pandemic “normal” and reign their workers back into the office. However, many employees are just not willing to go back to the inconvenient ways of years past. Remote work has allowed many to achieve a greater sense of work-life balance, spend more time with their families, and just feel better in general with the option of working from the comfort of their home, a park, or anywhere in the world. The Great Resignation has highlighted just how important these values are to employees who are now opting to quit their jobs rather than endure unsatisfactory conditions. 

remote work, working from home

Many are not willing to give up the comfort and convenience of remote work and their “new normal.” (Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash)

The Bloomberg article highlighted that a big part of the push to return to the office is due to the generational gap between bosses and employees. “There’s also the notion that some bosses, particularly those of a generation less familiar to remote work, are eager to regain tight control of their minions,” the article states. 

Twidt added, “They feel like we’re not working if they can’t see us. It’s a boomer power-play.”

Gen Z and millennials, being more tech-savvy and adaptable, are no longer interested in the old ways of working. In an article by CNBC, Bankrate senior economic analyst Mark Hamrick said, “Gen Z and millennials are the most mobile participants in the workforce for a number of reasons. They aren’t making as much money as their older, more senior counterparts, so they’re more eager to find higher-paid jobs, and they tend to be more technologically savvy, so they’re in a better position to take advantage of remote work opportunities.” 

“I want to be my own boss” 

Not only are younger employees interested in working from home indefinitely and increasing their pay and benefits, many are also turning toward entrepreneurship. 

According to the survey conducted by Digital.com, one-third of respondents revealed they are interested in starting their own business with 62% of those stating they want to “be their own boss.” Additionally, 60% state they are interested in starting their own business to “pursue an idea they are passionate about.” 

The Great Resignation is inspiring more and more people to start their own businesses. Photo by rawpixel.com – on freepik

The pandemic served as the perfect time for many aspiring entrepreneurs to work on making their dreams a reality. The survey found that 60% of aspiring business owners used their free time during the pandemic to educate themselves on starting a business. Others were able to use the stimulus money they received to help fund their ventures. 

Currently, the three main areas in which people are starting businesses is computer and information technology, retail, and personal care services. The key for many, is following their passion and doing something they love. 

industries new businesses

Infographics: Digital.com

Startup consultant and small business expert Dennis Consorte, said on Digital.com, “Many people believe that business ownership means setting your own hours and answering to no one. The truth is that for many business owners, a half-day is twelve hours, every single customer is your boss, and you have to hustle to stay afloat. However, by pursuing a passion, work won’t feel like work, but will instead give you purpose, which is far more valuable than the dollars earned.”

Consorte also highlighted the importance of having an online presence as a new business in 2021. The world has become increasingly more digital in the past year, so even “brick-and-mortar” shops need to consider their online presence as a crucial aspect of their business marketing. 

“New small business owners need to develop some kind of online presence. Social media is a good start, and a website will give you a lot more control over your database and marketing options” Consorte advised. 

You might be interested: Cloffice: The latest work-from-home trend to transform your workspace

It’s unlikely that we will ever return to the pre-pandemic “normal.” The Great Resignation has shown that people are not willing to go back to the old ways. Our new normal is now one that is digital, remote, and independent. Employees have learned to value their time and labor. Others are venturing out on their own to follow their dreams. The pandemic helped put it all into focus and re-prioritize what is important: freedom, health, and financial stability.

An example of Cloffice. Image by Haffele.

Cloffice: The latest work-from-home trend to transform your workspace

Home office has been a hot topic since March of 2020. Before, working from home was not always necessary and many got on just fine without a dedicated workspace. However, the rise of remote work in the past year has increased the demand for such a space. If you are one of the many longing for a personal workspace in your home, but think you do not have the room to accommodate such a space, let me introduce you to the cloffice. 

What is a cloffice?

A cloffice is essentially a closet transformed into an office space. This creative innovation is the perfect solution for those looking to have a dedicated workspace in their home but are tight on space. 

Many choose to transform guest bedroom closets or hall closets but you can even use a freestanding wardrobe such as in the photo below. 

cloffice, working from home,

Transform a freestanding wardrobe into your personal home office workspace. (Photo courtesy Häfele)

The cloffice is perfect for those who want a space separate from main living areas. The cloffice also allows you to hide your work from your daily life once you’re off the clock. Just close your closet doors to disconnect from work-life and get back into the groove of home-life. 

That disconnect is especially necessary nowadays as COVID-19 has forced us to blur the lines between our work-life-balance. According to an article by Forbes, having a dedicated workspace increases productivity and reduces temptations to indulge in other at-home distractions while working from home

Tips to build the cloffice of your dreams 

If you are struggling without a dedicated workspace at home, then hop on the trend! Below are some tips to help you transform your spare closet into the perfect, personal workspace to help you achieve more while working from home. 

cloffice, working from home,

Unleash your creativity and build your own personal cloffice. (Photo courtesy Häfele)

Furnishings

Most important, of course, is your desk and chair as these will be where you spend your working hours. A sturdy desk and an ergonomic chair will serve you best and keep you comfortable while you work, help you maintain good posture, and keep stubborn back-pain away. Another option is a standing desk which also has many benefits. Either way, choose furnishings that will best serve you. Make this space your own. 

Storage

In such a small space, storage is everything and every inch of space matters. Try not to clutter your workspace with large storage cabinets or containers. Keep it simple. Utilize shelves, built in closet storage, or small cubbies. If your goal is to be able to close your closet doors at the end of the workday, also be sure to keep all furnishings and storage compact. 

Electronics 

Electronics are another important area to consider. Your closet may not have outlets or plugs, but there are solutions. You can use extension cords and cable concealers to keep cables and wires tidy. Another solution for charging smaller electronics is to utilize USB charging ports. Once you have power running in your cloffice, add in your computer and other necessary electronics such as printers or scanners. 

Lighting 

Finally, consider your lighting source. Lighting is essential to productivity. Light can define your mood and impact your performance. Most closets do not have built-in light sources, so you will want to consider different solutions. You could add a desk-lamp, LED lights, or wall lights to your cloffice. Whichever option you choose, make sure it offers plenty of light so you can perform at your best. 

You might be interested: Is working remotely a pain? Tips to be more comfortable and productive

Once you have the essentials down, it’s time to decorate! Unleash your creativity and personalize your workspace. Add a touch of color or keep things minimal and go monochrome. The choice is yours. Remember, this space will be where you spend a bulk of your time during the workday, so make it a place that is inviting and positive. 

How to manage and prevent burnout in the workplace

You’ve probably heard the term “burnout” used over and over again in the workplace, especially after this past year. The popular buzzword sometimes is used flippantly or interchangeably to describe feeling “stressed out” at work, but it’s more than just usual stress. 

In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) recategorized burnout as an occupational syndrome, “resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” Previously, burnout was only considered “state of vital exhaustion,” though the Maslach Burnout Inventory was used to diagnose burnout, and it is still widely used today. 

This diagnostic tool, developed by Christina Maslach, Professor of Psychology (Emerita) and a core researcher at the Healthy Workplaces Center at the University of California, Berkeley, is used by experts to identify burnout in individuals. According to the Maslach Burnout Inventory, burnout occurs when these three factors are present: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and a diminished sense of personal accomplishment.

Burnout is on the rise 

An article by Forbes reported that workplace burnout is on the rise since the pandemic began last year. A study conducted by the job-seeking site, Indeed, found that: 

  • 52% of survey respondents are experiencing burnout in 2021—up from the 43% who reported burnout in Indeed’s pre-pandemic survey. 
  • Millennials are the most affected population, with 59% reporting feelings of burnout. However, Gen Z is following closely behind at 58%, up from 47% pre-pandemic. Additionally, Baby Boomers reported a 7% increase in burnout since the pandemic began, now at 31% compared to the 24% reported pre-COVID-19. Finally, Gen X is close in numbers with Millennials and Gen Z, with over half (54%) of Gen Xers reporting experiences of burnout in the workplace. 

COVID-19 shook up the workforce globally, leading to drastic changes in workplace environments. While working from home many have been easy or beneficial for some, others struggled to adapt and establish routines or juggle both work and family. Among those who responded to Indeed’s survey, 80% believe Covid-19 impacted workplace burnout with a 67% majority saying burnout has worsened during the pandemic, while 13% believe it has gotten better.

Signs of burnout in the workplace

The signs of burnout are not always easy to spot, especially when they’re happening. Many brush off burnout as simple workplace stress. Everyone has bad days, right? But burnout is more than just a few bad days or even a bad week. Burnout is when there never seems to be a good day anymore. Burnout is a chronic response to untreated workplace stress. If you think you may be experiencing burnout, it’s crucial you take a step back and seek help to navigate and overcome these feelings, because burnout can take a toll not only on your mental health, but your physical health as well. 

Ask yourself: 

  • Have you become cynical or critical at work?
  • Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started?
  • Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers or clients?
  • Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
  • Do you find it hard to concentrate?
  • Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements?
  • Do you feel disillusioned about your job?
  • Are you using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel?
  • Have your sleep habits changed?
  • Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, stomach or bowel problems, or other physical complaints?

If you answered yes to any or all of these, you may be experiencing burnout. These may also be signs of other mental health issues, such as depression, so it’s important you speak to your doctor or mental health provider about these feelings. 

Other key signs of burnout include: 

  • Not feeling excited about your work anymore
  • You have stopped putting your usual effort into your work
  • You’re exhausted, easily drained, and emotionally depleted
  • You’re experiencing physical symptoms such as insomnia, chest pains, headaches or migraines, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, dizziness, or gastrointestinal pain. 

What you can do to manage burnout and how employers can help 

Managing burnout is usually not something you can do alone because burnout is a result of workplace stressors which are often outside of your own control. This is why it is important for employers to be aware of burnout and work with their employees to address the common triggers. 

On the personal level, you can work to change your mindset and develop healthy coping mechanisms for stress. Practicing mindfulness and exercising regularly are great ways to naturally cope with stress. Setting aside time each day to do something fun and creative is also a great way to get rid of stressful energy and cultivate joy. 

You might be interested Stress Awareness Month: Coping with post-covid stress and stress at work

Another way to deal with burnout is to make changes in the workplace, such as changing your workload, taking a vacation, or even a prolonged break, and making changes on a systematic level. This is where employers come in. 

If you are feeling overwhelmed by workplace stress, approach your boss to have a conversation about the fact that you feel overworked and identify ways to change your workload.

Employers should also lead by example, cultivating a work-life balance and encouraging employees to use their vacation days and sick leave when needed. One way to encourage work-life balance is to set clear boundaries for when someone is “on the clock” and when they are not, such as only responding to work-related emails during the workday and not glamourising or encouraging overtime work. 

The most important thing is open communication and speaking up when it all feels too much. Burnout in the workplace doesn’t have to be inevitable.