Negotiating Fulfilling Work in the Face of the Great Resignation

The Great Resignation … Everyone is talking about it. It’s all the buzz. Studies suggest as much as 40% of the workforce does not plan to return to the workplace in the wake of the pandemic. So how can you negotiate fulfilling work in these unusual times? 

I think it’s important to recognize that while COVID may have expedited the process, there has been a growing dissatisfaction with our work systems for some time. The shift is not new. There are many reasons for this. 

  • Past generations typically worked one job for life. They secured pensions & benefits so they could retire with ongoing income and some measure of security in their senior years. Loyalty to and from employers was the norm. 

  • This is no longer the case. The ‘global economy’ created a profound shift in our workplace norms and expectations. 

  • Recent trends suggest this generation can be expected to have an average of 15+ job changes in their career with 51% of employees staying in any one role less than 2 years. 

  • Employers increasingly put profits over people, with little loyalty to long-term employees. 

  • Many employers reduced fulltime jobs in lieu of part-time or contract workers (including outsourcing overseas), dramatically decreasing any sense of job security. Pensions & benefits were often eliminated altogether. 

  • With increasing technology came a dehumanization of the workforce.  

  • This generation is the first generation not expected to do better than parents.  

Then came COVID. The pandemic has exacerbated these trends. Employee dissatisfaction is at an all-time high. In addition to the general sense of malaise and overwhelm, coupled with new perspectives about priorities, employees tasted flexibility in a way most hadn’t before. We saw increased flexibility in the ability to work from home and to control hours of work; virtual vs in person work opportunities; time away from physical workplaces; decreased supervision; and increased autonomy. 

The Great Resignation will force employers to re-evaluate the path they’ve been marching down and to find ways to better position themselves to retain and attract talent. This is good news for employees as it puts you in a stronger negotiating position to ensure you get what you want and need. 

How can you prepare yourself for these negotiations?

  1. Negotiate Your Mindset: Your first and most important negotiation will always be with yourself. Negotiating your own mindset is your first step in the preparation process. Own your value. Ensure your sense of worth comes from within rather than seeking external validation. Recognize what you bring to the table. Believe in yourself and ground yourself in the certainty that you deserve the best.   

  1. Find Your Passion & Purpose: Consider what fires you up and make a decision that you will only entertain work that ensures you do what you love and love what you do. Consider your unique gifts or ‘zone of genius’. Seek out opportunities that match your unique gift or talent. 

  1. Do your homework. Get clarity on what you want to negotiate for, know what your comparables are (to justify your asks with confidence), know your BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement), determine your bottom line, know the going rates at the particular workplace, as well as in the industry both locally and beyond. 

What Are Some Things You Can Ask For?

Often people limit themselves by only considering salary in their workplace negotiations. I invite you to think outside the box and broaden the scope of your potential asks. If the goal is to increase fulfillment, then money isn’t the only variable in that equation.  

Here’s a quick checklist to kickstart your own brainstorming session to determine what’s most important to you: 

  • Money

  • Title

  • Flexibility (where you work and hours of work) 

  • Independence/decision-making

  • Training opportunities (internally & externally) 

  • Mentors/Sponsors

  • Opportunity for growth (both personally & professionally)

  • Opportunity for advancement

  • Vacation

  • Stocks/Equity

  • Daycare

  • Gym membership

  • Travel perks

This is just a starting list to get you thinking about those things that would move the dial for your job satisfaction. 

How Do You Negotiate For What You Deserve?

Once you’ve got clarity on what you want, how do you negotiate to get it? Here’s a few tips to help you in that journey. 

  • Create a ‘Brag list’ or ‘Proof of Performance’.  As part of your prep process create an exhaustive list of all your accomplishments, skills, assets, valuable qualities, commendations, contributions, etc. This is not the time to be humble. This will allow you to show up with confidence and to reference your value with ease, seamlessly in the conversation. 

  • Set high aspirations and expectations.

  • Focus on what you can do for/bring to the company. While past accomplishments are important, any organization is going to want to know what value you can bring to the table going forward. 

  • Use ‘we’ language. Set the stage so that psychologically they see you as a valuable part of the team already. i.e. “I’m really looking forward to being able to help us achieve x,y,z targets and boost our growth in a,b,c areas.” 

  • Practice the ask! Be sure to get comfortable with the numbers you intend to propose so you can deliver the ask with assurance. 

  • Come from a mindset that is not cap in hand, with you convincing them to hire you, but rather, with them needing to convince you of why you should go there. 

Negotiating fulfilling work is important. You deserve it. Work is a relationship. In fact, we typically spend more time at work than with our loved ones. Ensure you look for a workplace and environment that feeds your emotional, physical and financial health. In these unusual times with the unprecedented exodus from the workplace, now is a good time to leverage your bargaining power to negotiate your best work environment. 



Global economy, negotiating, Negotiating Fulfilling Work, The Great Resignation, Unusual times

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