The massive disruption of the pandemic has led millions of people to reassess their lives and think about what they want from work. So it’s little surprise that there’s a so-called “Great Resignation” underway, with as many as 95% of workers considering changing jobs.
There are numerous reasons people feel dissatisfied. NPR reports that “people are leaving their jobs in search of more money, more flexibility and more happiness.” And the BBC notes that, “For some workers, the pandemic precipitated a shift in priorities, encouraging them to pursue a ‘dream job.'”
Research has shown that people who pursue dream jobs are happier, so it makes sense that some would want to course correct their careers. An accountant in Chicago, for example, told an interviewer that she decided to resign recently after realizing that this kind of work was no longer her passion.
I know people making similar changes. But while it’s potentially exciting, it also presents big challenges. For workers it’s not easy to find or create a dream job, and giving up a steady salary is always a risk. For businesses, replacing employees can be enormously expensive, reaching two times their annual salaries or even more, Gallup reports.
There’s another option, however. It’s one few people seem to be aware of—and one I discovered through experience. It’s a solution that has allowed me to remain steadily employed in a lucrative field and pursue my passion at the same time.
Introduce your dream activities into your job
When I was a kid, I dreamed of becoming a comedian. But I was too much of a coward to try to make it a career. So I studied business in college and went into business development, sales and marketing.
I still felt an internal drive to do comedy. And I decided not to ignore it. Instead, I tried building it into my work.
I needed to help my business win clients. So I began creating and taping comedy videos that were unique to each prospect. When I sent those out, the response rates skyrocketed. They led to meetings, and often converted into sales.
I kept going. For some videos, I donned a tuxedo and pretended to be the client’s spokesperson; for others I created funny music videos. Response rates kept increasing.
Over time, I extended this into other parts of my work. A partner and I began our own online talk show about comedy in sales. We also create silly videos to help attract viewers and customers for LeadiQ, where I currently oversee growth and marketing.
This kind of marriage between passion and work can happen in all sorts of careers. And it’s important for businesses to help make this happen. It helps them hold onto employees and tap into the potential of their staff’s unknown talents.
What individuals can do
How can you make this happen? First, reconnect with your passion outside of work. Especially if it’s been a while since you’ve honed those skills, practice them as a hobby. Whether it’s cooking, painting, or mountain climbing, make sure you’re actually good at it, and keep getting better.
Once people you trust give you enough feedback showing that you’ve got the skills, come up with a small, limited pilot project that introduces this passion into your work. If you’re a baker, send your best cookies to a prospect. If you’re an expert hiker, offer to take just a few prospects on a walk somewhere they’ve never been. Test it out.
Then, track your progress. Share with your boss what the results are. If it helped you achieve goals at work, make sure your bosses know. Keep it up. And if your effort did not succeed the first time, don’t give up. As long as trying it felt good to you, you’ll enjoy the process of further experimentation. You might just need to tweak and improve. Don’t be afraid.
What businesses can do
Executives and managers should encourage these efforts. Obviously not in a way that risks a giant piece of business, but as a chance to see how something different can work. Talk with your employees about their passions and dreams. Explore how what they long to do could become a part of what they already do.
Survey your staff about their interests. By doing this, I’ve discovered that my employees are talented musicians, photographers, and writers—and we built those abilities into their work.
I even had one employee who, it turned out, had trained dogs in the military. We discussed it, and he started looking on social accounts to see whether prospects were dog owners. When they were, he sent them videos on how to train their dogs. It helped him get meetings and win business.
In addition to all the other benefits, this process helps employees feel more engaged and satisfied in their work, boosting productivity.
Post-pandemic change is inevitable. But a mass departure of employees doesn’t have to be. The hopes and dreams of workers can lead them, and the business as a whole, in a fantastic direction. When you give this a chance, you’ll see that everyone comes out ahead.