Trevor R. Thomas
A Workforce in Flux
Recently, I have been feeling a strong sense that our workforce in British Columbia is on a precipice of change. The change will be tumultuous at first; bringing uncertainty, high turnover, and higher demands on businesses. However, at some point, we will hit a sweet spot – everything will settle, we will regroup, and carry on. There are two reasons for this anticipated shifting of employment: “boreout” and the death of commuting.
In 2007, Swiss business consultants Peter Werder and Philippe Rothlin coined the term “boreout”, which describes a lack of stimulation, challenge, or responsibilities at one’s job. No doubt, we have all experienced boreout at some point in our careers. At this period in time, however, given that we are approximately 16 months into a pandemic, I suspect that the number of people experiencing boreout has significantly increased. We all know the reasons: working from home, no physical separation between the office and our living spaces, less mental room to unwind, juggling too much with too little resources, parenting during a pandemic, etc. All of these factors, I think, contribute to less time to find quiet moments where we can allow our brains to be lucid. Without lucidity, there is less creation. Less creation means less interest in finding ways to appreciate our work and challenge ourselves. What does this all mean? For those who have reached a breaking point (I suspect there are many), boreout is the trigger needed to take the plunge to leave their job. That’s right, “quitting” during a global pandemic.
Death to the Commute
If boreout wasn’t a sufficient reason to leave a job, consider my second reason for the shifting of employment; the death of commuting. To be clear: when I speak of the “death”, I say it in the sense of an employee-led revolt against the illogical, illegitimate and ill-conceived notion of having to work in an office. Yes, there are certain positions that probably should be required to be present in an office. However, the pandemic has shown us that much of our work can be accomplished from the comfort (i.e., wearing shorts and a t-shirt) of our home offices, and people are enjoying not having to commute. In a recent CBC news article (https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/labour-shortage-concerns-1.6093867), a woman from Ontario described the fear of leaving her steady job despite a daily two-hour commute. After being forced to work from home because of the pandemic, she realized that the two hours she gained every day was actually giving her time to enjoy her life.
The combination of boreout and change in location of work is the spark that will shift the landscape of work in BC (among other places). Employers that embrace alternative models of work will thrive. Those that maintain the status quo will find themselves losing employees.
We help employees navigate the difficult decision of resigning. We also help companies figure out how to keep employees stimulated and engaged. Regardless of what side of the fence you fall on, we can help. Get in touch with us!