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There's a great fear of missing out (FOMO) growing inside employees who are not partaking in the 'Great Resignation'.Mladen Zivkovic/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

With the ‘Great Resignation’ making headlines and so much discussion about the war for talent, many employees who planned to stay in their jobs are starting to wonder what they might be missing by staying put.

There has already been a lot of movement in certain sectors and more is expected as pandemic restrictions lift and workers get curious about what the current labour market has to offer, says Marc Johnson, director of sales and marketing at TEC Canada, a leadership development organization.

“A lot of where it’s coming from is, where people can work more remotely, they’re seeing the opportunities to jump for fear of missing out,” Mr. Johnson says.

Microsoft Corp’s 2022 Work Trend Index found 15 per cent of Canadians surveyed reported leaving their jobs in the past year and 37 per cent said they are somewhat or extremely likely to consider changing employers this year. When Gen Z and millennials are singled out, 52 per cent said they are somewhat or extremely likely to consider changing jobs.

Most companies have realized they need to help staff connect with a higher sense of meaning at their work to keep them.

“Businesses are trying to create this sense of purpose for what they do, and how they have an impact on not just selling widgets, or not just generating revenues and profits, but for the reasons why they’re in business,” Mr. Johnson says.

At TEC, he says that includes discussing career growth and self-care with employees and holding regular workplace town hall meetings. Employees also get an additional 11 flex days a year by working an extra half-hour a day.

“Make sure your employees are aligned with what you do,” Mr. Johnson says. “We hear that a lot from our employees, that they may be able to get paid a little bit more if they jumped to another organization but they wouldn’t have as much purpose.”

Workplace culture trumps everything, he says.

“No matter how good a product you have, no matter how good a service you have, if you don’t have a good culture and people that are aligned with that culture, you’re not going to have a successful company,” he says.

It’s worth the investment in creating that connection, Mr. Johnson says. It varies by sector and specific job, but he says it can cost up to $100,000 when an employee leaves if training, experience, recruitment and on-boarding new staff are all factored in.

“Culture doesn’t just happen. Culture takes a lot of work and it takes a lot of good treatment of employees; treating them with respect and integrity,” he says.

Work is one of the many relationships we have in our lives, says Alan Kearns, founder and managing partner at Career Joy, a human resources services firm.

“Relationships run into bad spells,” he says. “Sometimes the immediate reaction is, ‘well, I just need to end it and go get a new relationship and I’ll live happily ever after.’ And I think it’s the same thing with jobs.”

Many people don’t stop to reflect on what’s working and what isn’t before looking for another job, says Mr. Kearns, who works with clients on a career history evaluation.

“The better the analysis, the better the action, and a lot of times people don’t do good analysis,” he says. “Stop and think … explore what the root issues have been.”

The next step is to look at options.

“I think most people take a fairly simplistic approach to options and don’t necessarily do their homework and don’t necessarily explore the market in a broader way,” Mr. Kearns says. “A recruiter calls them, they start the conversation, three weeks later and they’re in their new job.

“I think in 60 per cent or more of cases, the solutions are actually where you are,” he adds. “Explore the options before you start thinking that the options are over there.”

Taking the first offer that comes their way may be the right decision or it may be a “rebound job” because they haven’t fully explored what’s out there, he says.

A recent survey by human resources consultant Robert Half International found 28 per cent of Canadian professionals’ plan to look for a new job in the first half of this year; the largest cohort of those jobseekers have been with their current employers for five to nine years.

Charina Cruz, a Vancouver-based life and career coach, says most of her clients aren’t afraid of missing out but they do seek greater fulfilment in life and work. That doesn’t necessarily mean quitting, because there are many ways to bring joy back into your work, she says.

“It depends whether employers are open to that and create that opportunity,” she says. “Bringing more joy into the work, both employer and employee have actions that they can take.”

First, she says a person needs clarity on what they want to explore. And they need to reconnect with what led them to the current role and organization.

They can take advantage of training and learning opportunities right where they are, Ms. Cruz says. Most people are not even aware of the conferences, coaching, mentoring and other opportunities employers have available.

“I always tell people, absolutely explore opportunities both internally and externally,” she says. “For a lot of people this is, I think, where your fear of missing out is, in terms of, is the grass actually greener on the other side? Sometimes people find it is not greener, and they should really plant and water their own grass.”

Ms. Cruz says employers can help with regular check-ins and create a culture where employees can be honest about how they’re feeling.

“Employees need to feel like they’re not going to be punished, but in fact, rewarded for being honest,” she says.

It’s also important that people not expect fulfilment to come just from their work, she adds.

“It’s about exploring other meaningful activities; giving back, volunteering, exploring new hobbies, new interests, and really filling their cup in a multitude of ways,” Ms. Cruz says. “That doesn’t necessarily need to happen just in the workplace.”