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Should you switch jobs during a pandemic? 4 global HR leaders answer.

Lakshmi Devan

Last Updated: 1 February 2023

These are uncertain times. With the entry of the Delta variant and the 3rd wave taking off, most industries remain badly affected. Unemployment is at its highest since the Great Depression. Economists believe there will be a recovery, but no one knows what that will look like or how long it will take. You may feel lucky to have a job, but what if you’re not quite happy with it?  So if a recruiter has contacted you about an opportunity, do you listen? Is it wise to make a move during such an uncertain time? 4 HR leaders from across the globe answer. 

Andy Campbell-Critchley, Director of HR, Munnelly Group LLC (The United Kingdom)

It’s a brilliant idea. Well okay maybe not if you don’t want to change jobs, but if you do, then it’s just perfect. Just because we are in a pandemic, the “10 nudges to turnover” haven’t stopped. In fact, they are there, but more intense. So, if you can’t solve or ignore the nudges, then get searching elsewhere. It’s a glorious time to be a candidate; candidate shortages, skills in demand, wage pressure and of course most importantly you can find remote and hybrid working roles abound. My advice: just go for it. I did and it has worked out perfectly for me.

Nico Mallillin, Globally Recognized Human Resources & EX Leader (Philippines)

The first thing that came to mind is to "Always choose happiness."  If you are no longer happy with the company for reasons that are valid to you, feel free to start exploring for opportunities outside. Start being open to companies who can offer what you need today. However, don't rush to leave. Don't settle for anything less. It's okay to stay in a company for financial and practical purposes, but it doesn't have to stop you from moving. Know what you are willing to struggle for and what trade offs you are willing to make. Move when you are able to. Be clear with why you are leaving the current company and why you are joining a new organization. Let these factors be in consideration when coming to a decision as to what will make you happy. The pandemic in itself already causes some level of anxiety. There is no other reason to choose to be in a company that doesn't help you cope with it. Self-care is not selfish.

Priyanka Peeramsetty, Chief of Staff, Peppo (India)

Pandemic rendered this ability to look at the purpose and work-life dynamics a little too intimately, with all the WFHs. If the current company/ learning path/ culture is not empathetic to the ongoing pandemic, there's absolutely no reason to stay and hold back - it is difficult to bring yourself with the ideal momentum to work if it doesn't speak to your passion/ideals anymore. This also could be the changed priorities for employees who now want to focus on something else. What's expected of the job seekers is to ensure the new company has all of these missing pieces - by asking a truck load of questions during interviews and seeking evidence by talking to current employees there.

Employees should communicate that dissonance at the existing company first. Companies already do understand they need to do more employee engagement and they need to hear more of that from employees from time to time. If they act on it, you'd succeed in a more promising role within the company, win-win. Else, make the move already. 

Steve McArthur, MD, Resident CHRO, Insights & Solutions Asia (Singapore)

I think it depends on the person and the job. The pandemic has helped individuals realise that there is more to life than jobs where they have difficult bosses, demands to work extremely long hours and so on. They realise family and friends and time with them are more important than working a job where they are close to burning out. I am witnessing individuals moving to other organisations for better benefits, less hours and a less demanding job which allows them to spend more time with family. Switching jobs has to be the right time for the individual and if that is during this pandemic then so be it. Individuals should think about a move clearly, for example, is this the right organisation to move to and work for? Am I moving for the right reasons? Could I talk to my current employer with regards to making changes within my existing role?

Lastly, many individuals have had to make personal sacrifices due to the pandemic, and due to continued lockdowns some have been isolated. Therefore, overall with the impacts on mental health that has occurred because of the pandemic, I feel that individuals should take a step back and know where they are in terms of their mental health before they jump into another role.

Your quick takeaway

No one takes a job with the expectation that it will turn into a disappointment, much like no one chooses to go into a new relationship thinking about how it may not work out.  When you arrive at the realization that your job has become a source of anxiety, things may look grim indeed. If your relationship status with your job is “complicated,” that's just another way of saying “It's not working.”

Many professionals have a strong resistance to leaving a job that's not working out. Quitting is hard because it carries an implication that you gave up, did not try hard enough, or were not good enough to make it work. 

The reality is that the motivational quotes that tell you “Quitters never win and winners never quit” are wrong.

Winners quit all the time — they just quit the right stuff at the right time. So to conclude, as Nico says, choose happiness. Self-care is not selfish. 

If you’re an HR struggling to retain your top talent or engage employees in the remote/hybrid world, we totally get it. Give Amber, Asia's leading employee experience bot, a chance. Sign up for a free demo right here 

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