“Wish I hadn’t been in a hurry to leave!” This is a common sentiment expressed by many employees after quitting their jobs. Why? Because they realise that the new workplace or role isn’t exactly what they expected it to be, and they start feeling that they were better off with their previous employer. Such regret is becoming increasingly common in today’s workforce.
The much-discussed phenomenon called the ‘Great Resignation’— when job seekers, especially techies, were spoilt for choice amidst a deluge of job offers and were resigning in droves—seems to have now given way to the ‘Great Regret’.
People may regret quitting their jobs because they did it for the wrong reasons. For instance, they may have switched just because everyone else was doing it, or they may have done so because they were unhappy with their situation but didn’t really have a concrete plan to improve it or navigate their next steps.
According to a recent study, one out of every four individuals who were part of the Great Resignation is unhappy about the decision to move.
While the study finds that 42 per cent of respondents felt that their new job did not match up to their expectations, 40 per cent underwent more difficulties in finding new jobs than they had anticipated.
“Quitting can harm one’s professional reputation and future career prospects. Even if one doesn’t see the immediate impact, it can have long-term consequences in 5-10 years. It’s better to prioritise one’s long-term career growth rather than seek short-term gains”.
Anil Gaur, group CPO, Akums Drugs & Pharmaceuticals
During the Great Resignation, many individuals re-evaluated their priorities and sought a different outlook on life. They realised that there is more to life than just work and decided to explore other aspects, such as personal health and world experiences. However, not everyone could afford to make such a drastic change due to economic responsibilities. Some people impulsively followed the herd mentality and quit their jobs without fully understanding the circumstances of others.
Amit Chincholikar, global CHRO, Yokohama Off-Highway Tires, explains, “The aftermath of this impulsive decision started to set in when individuals realised the need for a steady source of income and the importance of economic stability.” Government support during the pandemic, such as reduced social security contributions and financial aid, gradually diminished as COVID-19 came to an end in 2021 or 2022. Additionally, high inflation rates caught many off guard, adding to the challenges people faced.
Citing an example, Chincholikar enunciates, “If a colleague of mine quits, I may feel inclined to follow suit without fully understanding their circumstances. It is only later that the reality dawns when they realise that there is still a need for a steady source of income and to ensure that there is some degree of certainty in how businesses operate, and so on”.
“Many individuals take a break from traditional careers to explore unconventional paths or try something new. However, if these alternative models fail to yield the desired results, it is important for people to acknowledge that their previous decision does not have to define their future.”
Amit Chincholikar, global CHRO, Yokohama Off-Highway Tires
Impulsive resignations among young professionals
Anil Gaur, group CPO, Akums Drugs & Pharmaceuticals, believes that impulsive resignations are more common among young professionals with one to four years of experience. These decisions can be driven by factors such as job title, position, role, salary, or relationships with managers and colleagues. Peer pressure also plays a role, with employees being influenced by their colleagues’ job changes or better pay.
Subir Roy Choudhary, CHRO, Satin Creditcare Network advises individuals not to assume that switching jobs will automatically solve their concerns. People often get excited or are motivated to change their life without even evaluating the consequences they may face. The grass on the other side seems greener but the reality is not always what we expect it to be.
How to rectify the regret
To rectify a wrong decision, employees should try to adjust, understand, and accommodate themselves in the new job. If the current role doesn’t interest them, they can explore new job opportunities and learn new skills. Gaur cautions against making decisions based on others’ successes. He emphasises the importance of personal growth and career development.
“It’s important to focus on self-improvement, learn new skills and enjoy one’s work instead of quitting,” suggests Gaur.
He goes on to advise, “Quitting can harm one’s professional reputation and future career prospects. Even if one doesn’t see the immediate impact, it can have long-term consequences in 5-10 years. It’s better to prioritise one’s long-term career growth rather than seek short-term gains”.
If someone has made a particularly bad decision and things aren’t working out despite their best efforts, they may need to consider leaving their current job. However, Gaur advises staying and giving one’s best shot at saving the job, as there’s no guarantee that moving to another company will prove to be better in the long run.
According to Chincholikar, many individuals take a break from traditional careers to explore unconventional paths or try something new. However, if these alternative models fail to yield the desired results, it is important for people to acknowledge that their previous decision does not have to define their future. They should consider reapplying to the workforce, knowing that as long as they possess the necessary skills that companies seek, they will be welcomed back with open arms.
“New employer’s responsibility lies in creating a welcoming and supportive onboarding process. This includes providing clear job expectations, offering necessary training and resources, and facilitating a smooth transition into the new role.”
Subir Roy Choudhary, CHRO, Satin Creditcare Network
Should employees consider boomeranging?
For those who regret quitting their job impulsively, going back or ‘boomeranging’ to their old company can be a viable option. Chincholikar emphasizes, “Many organisations are now more understanding and open to re-evaluating the employment status of individuals who leave and then express a desire to return.” It is important for these individuals to treat their resignation period as a break and actively reapply to the workforce. Being honest about their reasons for quitting and expressing a genuine desire to return to work can help rebuild their careers. Progressive employers value talent and recognise that everyone makes mistakes. As long as individuals possess the necessary skills and qualifications, employers are likely to welcome them back into the workforce.
What can employers do?
While employees carry the burden of their decisions, employers who are losing their employees also hold a considerable responsibility in averting the resignation to prevent regret later, by creating an empathetic work environment — an environment that prioritises employee well-being and growth, alongside business objectives.
Choudhary suggests that new employers should actively engage in ongoing communication with employees, seeking feedback and addressing any concerns or challenges that arise.
He further elaborates that the new employer’s responsibility lies in creating a welcoming and supportive onboarding process. This includes providing clear job expectations, offering necessary training and resources, and facilitating a smooth transition into the new role. New employers should also make an effort to understand the individual needs and career aspirations of their employees.
Gaur also suggests conducting stay interviews when everything is going well to gauge employee engagement and job satisfaction. These interviews help assess whether employees are enjoying their work and provide an opportunity to identify areas for improvement.
The Great Regret experienced by individuals who quit their jobs is often rooted in impulsive decisions, wrong motivations and unrealistic expectations. However, there is hope for those who regret their choices. All they need to do is, reassess priorities, learn from regrets and seek growth opportunities, so that they can rebuild their careers and find fulfilment in the workforce. It is, after all, important to focus on long-term career prospects and to make informed decisions rather than succumb to impulsive actions that may lead to regret.