#NowMe Episode 14: The Great Resignation is all about values

Jan and Hollis are back! In this episode, they discuss the labor market and the Great Resignation.


NowMe Episode 14 Transcript

#NowMe Episode 14: The Great Resignation is all about values

Hollis Walker:    This is #NowMe, a podcast for financial advisors and their clients. Hello. I’m Hollis Walker, here with Jan Blakeley Holman, Director of Advisor Education at Thornburg Investment Management. Welcome back. Thanks for joining us for another episode of #NowMe.

Well, Jan, just like last year, 2021 has turned out to have some unique challenges, and along with those challenges have come opportunities most of us didn’t really expect. One area of opportunity that’s presented itself to us relates to employment. So, let’s talk about what’s going on in the job market.

Jan Blakeley Holman: Hey Hollis. Great to see you again. You’re totally right about the challenges we face in the country and actually, as we all know, globally. There have been many. As you suggested, I want to talk about the labor market and what we’re seeing because I think it’s fascinating. Let me take you back a few years, and this is really a few years, especially for those who weren’t alive yet. You probably remember Peter Finch’s role in the 1976 movie, Network.

Ms. Walker:        Oh yeah.

Ms. Holman:       In that film, for all of you who aren’t familiar with it, Peter Finch played Howard Beale, a broadcaster who, while out drinking with his boss after work one night, finds that he’s soon going to be out of a job. It seems that his show was getting low ratings, and the network wants to replace him with someone who will draw more people. And that wasn’t atypical. I guess Beale was drinking a lot of nights. And not necessarily on nights out. Well, anyway, on the air the next night, he announced that he’s going to commit suicide on the show next week. And his employer horrified by Beale’s unscripted announcement, asked him to apologize and take it back. So, the next night, Beale got on the air and proclaims that everything is just BS. Well, not surprisingly, all these things going on and the fact he’s been so out of control increases viewership and interest in the show, and this viewership increases so exponentially that he begins a national movement. And he begins that movement by saying, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore.” And Hollis, I think we’re there.

Ms. Walker:        I think we’re all there. And you know, great minds think alike, Jan, because I too have thought of Howard Beale and that “I’m mad as hell and not going to take it anymore more” than once in the past year.

Ms. Holman:       You know, it’s interesting because while the quarantine was going on and some of us actually are still kind of self-quarantining where we don’t go out in public, we don’t eat in restaurants etc. I think after seeing more than 700,000 people die, many of us became angry, frustrated, and stepped back and thought life is short, and in some form, all of us, I think, reassessed our lives and decided to make changes. The changes people are making relate to life goals, family, relationships, our jobs, where we work, how we work, where we live, you name it. Everything’s open to change.

Ms. Walker:        I agree.

Ms. Holman:       Anyway, in my language, I’d call this a reassessment of our values. You know, there was a collective belief after going through this that we don’t have to through life with an unfulfilling job and uncaring employer or an unsatisfying way of life. People believe they have better opportunities out there, and they’re looking for lives that are more rewarding and fulfilling. The media’s calling the movement, as you know, the great resignation. Some are calling it the big quit. For the first time in decades, we’re seeing power shift in the workplace from employers to employees.

Ms. Walker:        Absolutely.

Ms. Holman:       A recent Gallup poll reported that 48% of America’s working population is actively job searching or looking for opportunities. At the end of July, the Bureau of Labor Statistics told us that 10.9 million people had left jobs that are now open, and in August alone, 4.3 million people quit their jobs.

Ms. Walker:        Those numbers are astonishing.

Ms. Holman:       They’re amazing. So, we’re seeing a lot of job openings in industries that are very, very difficult and unrewarded. Not necessarily unrewarding, but it’s like society really doesn’t pay these people enough. Think about caregivers, the individuals we depend upon to take care of our family members who are sick, disabled, our elderly population. Caregiving’s a line of work that takes a lot of time and it also takes a lot out of people emotionally. And a lot of caregivers are saying I can’t do it anymore, I don’t want to do it for $15.00 an hour. I don’t think any of us can blame them. So, with people thinking why should I bother, this job is killing me, and I am not valued, everybody’s bailing.

Ms. Walker:        So, Jan, one of the things that’s interesting to me about this is that there are always people who feel like their job is unrewarding, they’re not paid enough, their boss is mean, whatever. So, what has empowered them to quit during COVID that doesn’t empower them on a regular basis?

Ms. Holman:       Seeing 700,000 people die, I think. I think that’s been the thing that has flipped the switch. I was speaking recently and somebody said, you know, isn’t life always chaotic and uncertain like this? And I said well, yeah, life is uncertain, but you usually don’t see 700,000 people die.

Ms. Walker:        Right.

Ms. Holman:       You know, that’s one of those things that kind of makes somebody stop and go whoa, I can’t stand the person I’m married to. I gotta get outta here. I heard today that cigarette sales are up, were up last year for the first time in 20 years. As an ex-smoker, I’m not going to go back because I quit so long ago, but I think people are saying if I’m going to die I’m going to smoke my way to death.

Ms. Walker:        Yeah, sounds a little counterintuitive but I understand that feeling. People often say, you know, if I’m going out, I’m gonna go out with, you know, my favorite bourbon and a cigarette.

Ms. Holman:       That’s right, neither of which I partake in unfortunately, so I don’t know what that would be like.

Ms. Walker:        A new car, you would just buy a new car, Jan.

Ms. Holman:       Oh, there you go. Thank you. That’s what I’d do. You know another thing that’s enabled people to leave their jobs has been the wonderful stock market performance. Because many people have more confidence because their safety nets, their nest eggs, whatever you want to call it, have grown significantly.

Ms. Walker:        So, am I just a very conservative person to think that yay, it’s wonderful that my stocks are up, but, gee, I’m not gonna sell anything now.

Ms. Holman:       Well, I think you are conservative. I would like to think of it as thoughtful about decisions you make, but people are not necessarily selling unless they have to. They just know that that money’s there.

Ms. Walker:        They just feel better.

Ms. Holman:       That’s right. And so, what’s really important is that if someone’s going to quit their job and they have a financial advisor, I hope they do, that they talk with that person about that, and that they determine how much cash they have on hand to support them for X number of months so that it’s a well-planned exodus. The other thing is there seems to be a ton of jobs out there.

Ms. Walker:        Yes.

Ms. Holman:       And this might be the time to make a career switch.

Ms. Walker:        Right. And I think people feel more confident. Just those numbers of jobs available make them feel like well, I’ll be able to find another job if I need one.

Ms. Holman:       You know, this takes me back to our values podcast, and I would say that, if you are feeling like something shifted in you but you can’t put a finger on it, maybe you should go to our values exercise and that can be found on www.thornburg.com/corevalues, and this will determine what’s important to you now. You know, it’s important when it comes to values that you, one understands that they evolve over time. They’re not static.

Ms. Walker:        Right. So, even if you’ve done this exercise or similar exercises before, it’s a really great time to do it again because we do change, our ideas change as time goes on.

Ms. Holman:       That’s right Hollis.

Ms. Walker:        That’s all the time we have today. You’ve been listening to #NowMe with me, your host, Hollis Walker, and Jan Blakeley Holman, director of advisor education at Thornburg Investment Management. If you want to suggest a topic for us, email us at NowMe@thornburg.com. If you’d like to hear more episodes of #NowMe, you can find us on Apple, Spotify, Google Podcast, or your favorite audio provider, or by visiting us at Thornburg.com/podcast. Jan can also be found on LinkedIn. If you like us, subscribe, share us on social media and leave us a review. See you next time.

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