The Great Re-Shuffle

“The grass isn’t always greener” – we all know the truth in this saying but forget the risks and do it anyway. In an economy and society that is the envy of the rest of the world, it’s hard to understand why many people are trashing the safe, secure and proven concepts for uncertainty. In the business world, we have been seeing “the Great Resignation” followed by a large number of people regretting their decisions, instead causing what Josh Frydenberg referred to as “the great Re-shuffle”. So what is driving this re-shuffle?

Technology has had a lot to do with it. We can now easily research everything to find solutions and answers (albeit often with incorrect facts). We also see much more of what is happening in the world. Sometimes though, our perceptions are amplified. Impressions from all types of social media for instance means that we see and combine all the “terrific times” that all our friends are having, losing the filter that each person does not experience all the excitement personally that the follower sees, just their part. This leads us to believe that everybody’s life is supposedly better than our own.

A second influence is the quest for instant gratification. We want what “everyone” is having, and we want it now. The fact is that money has lost its value (that is, low interest rates have meant that we have lost touch with what the desires costs, and “buy now pay later” schemes bring forward desires and that we still need to pay for).

On top of this, we have actually lived through 2 years of social disruption through all the Covid regulations and rules. Many people lost jobs during this time. Even more had forced changes to lifestyles, and this meant people re-evaluated what their goals, ambitions and personal purposes actually are.

There are also significant signs of people looking for change for the sake of change (rather than knowing what they are actually changing to). Witness for instance the opinion polls in relation to the upcoming Federal election, with strong support for parties with no workable policies or concept of how they would implement them, let alone what they would cost and the impact they would actually achieve. I just wish there was a requirement for anybody running for an important role in national parliament to have had to have had say at least five years of starting and/or running some kind of a business out in the real world. They’d understand the work that goes into turning a dollar, and all the costs before being able to turn a profit and be allowed any kind of reign to spend.

Anyway, even though it’s all interlinked, time to get back to business. The Great Resignation refers to the mass voluntary resignation that started in early 2021, whereby many left secure jobs to make a change. Possible causes include:

  • wage stagnation amid rising costs of living;
  • long lasting perceived job dissatisfaction (which in many cases is people seeing themselves as capable or aspiring to more than their current role gave them opportunity);
  • ability to work when and where the person wants to. This could take the form of flexibility of hours and/or location/s.
  • re-think on careers and long term personal goals

So why did it happen during the turbulent lock down period of Covid? Suddenly there was all this free money around (low interest rates promised by the RBA for several years) whilst there was a perception that Government was there to bail out people financially (mitigating risks). Being locked down, many had more time available.

Personal expenditures reduced during Covid (less travel and eating out for example), thereby realising that we could have a decent lifestyle on a lower income. With childcare now the primary carer in many households as they have become two income households, some made the change to spend more time with children, whilst in others one partner could afford to risk “breaking away” from the traditional workforce because there was still one stable income.

This made a lot of people feel game enough to give away a secure income for the dream of self control and trying to meet some of their personal goals. As many people are finding, it’s of course not as easy as just hanging up a digital version of the old shingle.

The Great Resignation though is turning into the Great Re-Shuffle. A lot of people who left their employers to go to another employer are finding that the grass wasn’t greener (not even the promised higher pay), so are moving again, some even moving back to their original employers. Others who tried breaking out on their own are finding that the rule of thumb statistics for start ups haven’t changed with the times nor with the advent of new technology. The studies all give similar findings, with 10-20% of businesses failing in the first year, 20-30% in the first 2 years, 50% before the 5th year, and 70% before their first decade.

The reasons for failing vary, but usually consist of:

  • lack of finance (including underestimating start up time and costs before you turn a dollar, through to overestimating the growth of incoming funds),
  • not satisfying a need,
  • and bad business planning.
  • Other reasons include unsuitable locations (beach or bush locations aren’t always where your customers are); inflexibility of the person or business; and not managing growth.

The reason many left their stable employment was for a better work life balance, only to realise that to run all aspects of a business requires more unpaid hours and tasks than expected, and you’re often “on call” and working 24/7 when the need arises.

It’s not all bad news though. The statistics can be viewed as glass half full or half empty. Half of all businesses do last over 5 years which is longer than the average term of employment (3.3 years). And many of the businesses that don’t survive the 5 years are closed by choice rather than by circumstances. A key success factor is the combined passion and business acumen of the person taking the plunge.

I once wanted to be a race car driver, but most forms of sporting fields (or other passions for that matter) require the majority of participants to pay their way – very few ever come to make a living of it. I then had the opportunity to ride in a V8 supercar with a driver just below the top tier, and the pressure on him to perform every time he was in (and indeed out) of the car was so big that he actually wasn’t having any fun. Meanwhile, there were lots of weekend warriors including myself who drove to a track, had some fun and drove home, all on a limited budget but sharing bundles of tall stories and smiles.

My kids are about to finish school, and our philosophy is that whatever they do in life, they will do well if they put the effort in as well as enjoy it. It’s very hard to give them career or life guidance. However, just like the gardeners garden is often the worst in the street, sometimes it’s better to chose a path that offers sufficient benefits that it can give you the means (economic, time, or other features) to achieve your “personal purpose” outside of your day to day endeavours. Finding a match to your skills day to day then gives the best chance to fulfil your personal dreams, whatever they might be.

As always, onwards and upwards!

Fred Carlsson

General Manager



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