To say the world has been chaotic the past two years is an epic understatement. I can think of many words to describe the past 24 months, some of which were not previously in my lexicon.
The list created in the banner image above is by no means exhaustive and I’m sure I’ve left out words that may be very powerful and meaningful based on the individual. I could spend days on a list and still never get it right, which makes my point – we have had a LOT going on in the world and people are changing.
During the past two years I have experienced life changing milestones – good and bad. I have noticed the lines between work and home life merging and blurring. The temporary taste of remote work from home (or anywhere else) has become a permanent craving. More than ever before, employees leave their jobs to live in other cities, change professions, or even to chase a dream considered extremely risky a year ago.
The interesting aspect of the of the past 24 months is the impact to passion. I am a huge proponent of trying to find your passion in professional and private life and purposeful positioning towards those passions. I have been passionate about helping people and technology has been my pathway towards achieving that passion. In my private life, I am passionate about my family, friends, and the outdoors; so most of my energy is spent towards those endeavors. As I age, I can sense my priorities changing, which may directly impact how I view and spend my time. While some passions never change others are being born or reborn.
I believe passion is one of the most important aspects of any job and thus integral to hiring the right people. Yet it is one of the most difficult qualities to interview for; it is something you observe over time, not something easily ascertained in a few interviews. That zeal and enthusiasm goes a long way in our business where, as a service business, interactions can be brutal, demotivating, and demoralizing. When the team has a united passion, it can and does overcome many of the negative aspects of a job. So what do you do in a world where passions are open ended and rapidly changing? And is it a bad thing?
My parents came from a time when one went to work for a company and stayed 30-40 years, retired, and collected a pension. Times changed, people changed, companies changed. Companies rid themselves of costly pensions, focused on cost cutting via the RIF (reduction in force) job elimination, and shorter-term metrics. Because a career path was no longer possible at a single company, people adjusted by using jobs as springboards to other jobs to gain the skills, experience, and ultimately, the financial rewards they coveted. A typical job stop was 4-8 years. Changing jobs any sooner was frowned upon as ‘job hopping’.
Today, people are working at jobs for one year or less, often opting for completely different industries and job types to test the waters and explore. Young people put a higher value on life experiences and quality of life than financial gain tied to job tenure and experience. Passion is shifting from the professional side of life, sliding towards the personal. That’s not to say the workforce isn’t passionate about professional life - work, collaboration, financial security, etc. - they certainly are, but the work must be personally meaningful, the mission of the company is important, flexibility is mandatory, and if those attributes are not available or become unavailable, they are not afraid to pivot and leave… quickly.
For an HR department trying to staff a company, today’s paradigm can be extremely frustrating and confounding. How could someone just quit a well-paying, stable job to start a Twitch channel or mine crypto currency with no financial guarantee and no safety net? Yet they do because it is what they are passionate about in the moment. I believe the pandemic has had a marked influence on viewpoints regarding careers, job stability, and what’s important. Millions lost their jobs virtually overnight and relied on unemployment and other means to get by for months, which provided time to contemplate - am I doing what I really want to, where I want to, with whom I want to? As businesses started opening back up and hiring, many of those jobs remain unfilled because people are using it as a catalyst for real change. Companies are having to change gears to meet the changing priorities of the workforce just to attract talent and fill positions.
Will these changes be permanent or temporary? I’m sure you can find plenty of data to support either position. From my standpoint, we don’t know. We are in the middle of a situation that has never happened before and prognosticating on what our world will be like in 3 to 5 years is not something I care to take on.
What I do know is finding and keeping passion is very difficult and every day is a blessing.