Take That Job and Shove It…

Jennifer R. Scott

The American job market as we once knew it seems to be collapsing at a steady pace. There are numerous job openings but there are not enough workers to fill those vacant positions. Could it be that people are too comfortable sitting at home and collecting an unemployment check? Are they just too plain lazy to work? Depending on which media outlet, business owner, religious group, politician, or citizen you consult with, those are the two main reasons businesses are having trouble finding help. Is it really that simple, or is there something much more complex happening here? Is the COVID-19 pandemic to blame? Perhaps, it does play a role, but we must consider the possibility our problems began long before many of us ever heard of the coronavirus.

I walked out of my job on September 8, 2000, right in the middle of the pandemic. People were losing their jobs or being furloughed by the thousands every single day. At one point, I was the only person left in my place of employment. A few people told me I was crazy for quitting, but I will never be sorry that I did it. I was overworked and underpaid. I was not valued by my employer. My personal time was not respected by my employer. I was called and asked to come into work on most of my days off, because other employees felt the same way I felt, and they called out. My employer put me in a position where I had to choose keeping my job over completing my master’s degree. My employer did not care when I was going through a very difficult divorce. My employer did not care when my grandmother, who meant the world to me, was dying and I couldn’t be there for her, because they felt work was more important. The organizational atmosphere was toxic, and so was the executive team. They watched us on camera every day, in order to interject as many criticisms as possible into an already chaotic workday.

As an employee of that company, you could do ninety-nine things right and never hear a word, but that one wrong thing was going to ensure that you caught hell about it for some time to come. I began having a nervous breakdown. I was having panic attacks at work. I was threatened by customers, donors, and a homeless marine, and nobody would do anything about it. I was even denied FMLA to go to doctor’s appointments for the panic attacks. I was tired, stressed, mentally exhausted, and I felt very helpless. Almost on a daily basis, I cried in the bathroom. I needed my job, but I needed to quit my job even more. My saving grace was getting to go home to my amazing partner who listened to me vent and /or cry every single night. I won’t say the name of the company, because what we are talking about here is much bigger than them, and so am I.

Obviously, if you are reading this book, you have walked a few miles in similar shoes, you are an employer who cannot figure out why employees are dropping off like flies, or you are just bored. Either way, thank you. I believe everyone can get something out of this. For those of you who have been through what I have been through, at least now, you know you are not alone. For those employers who operate like my former employer, please keep reading. There is more on this ahead.

While we are going along, I invite you to think about your own journey, as employer or employee. What do you think about The Great Resignation? If you don’t know what that is, the term was first used by Anthony Klotz, a professor at Texas A&M University, and it means there has been a significant upsurge of resignations being handed in to employers, seemingly out of nowhere. The truth is, yes, this is certainly a big deal. Still, what I am getting at here is that this job market has been full of traps for many years. The Great Resignation did not just happen overnight. An employee’s decision to quit does not just happen overnight. The most pressing question right now is: How did this happen?