This year, I’ve been a lawyer for 25 years (boy doesn’t time fly). My focus as an employment lawyer has changed over the years and I now advise departing senior employees as much as I advise employers. Sometimes the exit is desired by the employee and sometimes it comes as a shock.
One constant thing is that employees in safe jobs will often stay put even if they’re a bit bored or the job doesn’t suit them any more. If you are earning a good wage and have bills to pay, it can be a big risk to leave and do something new or a bit different. In saying this, I have found over the years that employees who are forced into departures against their will often don’t regret it in the longer term. I will generally meet a departing employee a number of times over the course of an exit negotiation. Often the departing employee is very stressed and anxious at the start. However, the same employee almost always relaxes considerably over the course of the negotiation and is often pleased to be signing a settlement agreement and departing by the end. Sometimes we all need an unexpected event to happen to make a change in our lives. Well, there’s no more of an unexpected event than the crisis caused by the corona virus.
Am I saying that you should resign now and plan to go alone or change career? Of course not. However, I do think it can be a time to reflect and think about what’s important and what you want out of your working life? Are you doing what you really want – does it excite or interest you enough? Would you prefer to be your own boss or start a business with colleagues so you have more control over your working life? Maybe life’s just become too comfortable where you are now and it’s time to freshen things up.
Some people love a new challenge but many will take the path of least resistance, until the new challenge has to be addressed because of a change imposed.
People reading this may say that now is very much the wrong time to leave the comfort of safe employment (if this exists still?) and the employment rights built up through years of service. Everyone’s situation will be different but I personally think that many employees can use this as a time to:
- reflect on whether they’re in a job that’s right for them;
- explore alternatives either in their own field or another;
- sharpen any skills that need a refresh.
Whilst employers might not be actively recruiting much now, this lockdown will end in due course and employers will be recruiting good people again. In tough times, an employer needs the best people and not just numbers.
In my own sector, law firms are treating their staff very differently across the sector. I think some lawyers will be disillusioned by how they’ve been treated and may be looking for a new home. Stable, secure and respected law firms are likely to be attractive to these lawyers. This, of course, will apply across all industries.
In summary therefore, the time might not be right for some employees to look around but, for others, this will be a time of reflection and maybe this crisis will be a kick start for some to make a change.