The phrase “The Great Resignation” is a plague.
It’s infected all media platforms. Everyone’s dropping the new buzz phrase like we did back in 2019 with the word #Innovation. Good god. Make it stop.
Since when is wanting to quit our jobs new? It’s not. Still, I quit my job.
The 1990s version
In the 1990s I remember infomercials that would advertise the franchise life.
“Buy this great Jim’s Mowing franchise and you’ll be free from your boss.”
They’d then whip up a stock photo of an angry boss pointing their finger. They’d even use Las Vegas magic show techniques. They’d flash the tv screen black and white. Then the words “Now! Now! Now!” would appear. Then smoke. Then a strange, deep voice would speak.
“Is this the life you are destined to live, or is there something more! more! more! you could be doing?”
The scene would quickly change to the beach. Palm trees in the background. A hammock conveniently placed between two trees. Cocktails served by a waiter … and no laptop. Laptop life didn’t exist back then.
As a 90s punk kid I didn’t get it. What’s work? School is the real downer. Help!
The Great Resignation misses the point
It’s not about the coroni-macaroni. It’s not a timing thing. It’s not because of LinkedIn content that we’re finally reevaluating our careers.
We didn’t suddenly wake up and go, “I’ve had enough of this sh*t.”
It was always going to happen.
We’re tired. The factory worker model of employment hasn’t worked for a long time. Our motivation levels are zero. KPIs don’t get anybody excited. HR puppets selling company life dreams are ignored by anybody with a brain.
‘Heads of Nothing’ that don’t do any real-world work — unless you count meetings — are slowly dying. Chief Executive actors are another category of huge egos that everyday workers are sick of — and their 300x higher salary for giving a few speeches at town halls each year.
The point is, now we’ve been home alone for so long we’ve finally accepted the career lie we’ve been living.
But the lie isn’t new.
The internet guaranteed that the number of workers that wanted to kiss a boss’s butt each day was going to rapidly decrease, eventually.
We want autonomy
Some people are trying to manage multiple side hustles to figure out what work they want to get paid to do. Some people are trying to manage a family with kids that love to interrupt Zoom calls and need to be picked up from school. Others like flexibility to work during their best hours.
The idea we all start and finish work at the same time and work for five days and rest for two days is old fashion. Technology means we’re always working, even when we try not to. The segregation between the two, therefore, means the factory worker 9-5 dream is dead. It was always going to die.
Most of us don’t work in factories anymore and click a button to punch in and punch out.
Most work can happen from any location and it should. Our work location determines our cost of living — and the cost is too damn high in big cities. That’s why we want to quit our jobs so we can be location-free.
We wouldn’t need to quit if you let us do Zoom forever. Too late.
We want control
Traditional leadership is even more broken. Our bosses are so busy stuck in back-to-back meetings that they barely know us.
What we want is control. We want to be trusted to make small decisions and own our tiny part of the business pie. We don’t need bosses anymore to tell us what to do. Sing it with me now! Come on…
~ Well we don’t need no one to tell us what to do
Oh yes we’re on our own and there’s nothing you can do
So we don’t need no one like you
To tell us what to do
~ We don’t refer to the past when we’re showing what we’ve done
Our generation gap means the war is never won
The past is in your head
The future’s in our hands
Aussie Band: Living End
Software can tell us what needs to be done. Code can verify what we do.
Our career path has little control, too. There’s no guarantee that if we deliver the outcomes we’ll get our end of the bargain.
You sell us dreams but we just don’t believe them anymore.
The brainwashing phase is over. The prove it with code period is here. Put it in a smart contract if you mean it, otherwise please shut up.
We want to use our creativity
As robots and code continue to take over more traditional jobs, all that will be left is creativity. We may as well start now then. Let us use our creativity. Make creativity levels a KPI if you must.
Hardcode creativity into every job. Force us to be creative if we’ve forgotten how to be. Measure and pay us based on creativity rather than hours worked.
Hours worked doesn’t measure value. Creativity deployed measures valued.
“Hit revenue number” is no longer a reason to go to work.
We need meaning in our work. That’s why we quit our jobs, because we get more meaning when we create our own work through freelancing, contracting, and making WIFI money.
The truth is we figured out a long time ago that we can make money online. We can leverage or borrow other people’s assets and then add our creativity over the top and make a living. So we are. It was always going to happen.
Traditional company infrastructure — like offices, furniture, departments on top of departments that force prices up — are dead weight. Your operation model is bloated. Optimization now happens at an exponential rate, so inefficiency must decrease at an even higher rate.
You either optimize or die. So instead of staying on the Titanic, we’re continuing to jump off the ship to enter the digital world without you.
Let’s kill the buzzword and call it what it is
No more “Great Resignation” headlines, please. We’ve always been trying to quit our jobs so we can own our time and make our own choices. It’s nothing new. Work will change whether bosses and businesses like it or not.
We’re just going to keep doing what we were always going to do: quit.
As Web 3.0 takes over, the word “digital” is going to look like a drop in the ocean in comparison. Your buzzword innovation departments will be steamrolled.
Business-decisions-as-code already exists. Meetings will continue to be deleted and replaced with consensus algorithms. Customers will make more of the decisions with voting rights of the products and services they use.
Leadership-as-code is coming. Bosses, you’ve been put on notice. “The Great Boss Annihilation” is next.