Make a Call on Quitting Your Job Without Any Regrets
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Make a Call on Quitting Your Job Without Any Regrets

Plenty of workers want a fresh start now, but a new gig isn’t always the answer. Here are things to consider before firing off a farewell email.

Wed, Aug 4, 2021 11:56amGrey Clock 4 min

It feels like everyone’s doing it.

In the United States, more than 7.5 million workers quit their jobs in April and May, up from 4.3 million during the same period the year before. Everyone’s talking about fresh starts. Burnout, the return-to-office mandate, boredom after a year of career stagnation: They can all seem like good enough reasons to send that farewell email.

But is leaving your job right now the right call? How do you make a decision you won’t regret?

More than a third of workers are looking for a new job, according to a May survey of 1,021 Americans from PricewaterhouseCoopers. Anthony Klotz, a management professor at Texas A&M University who studies resignations, says “turnover shocks”—being passed over for a promotion, watching a close colleague resign—often spark an employee’s desire to leave.

In these times, we’ve all basically experienced a turnover shock, he says. “So much change has happened over the last year that in some way or another we’ve thought, ‘Is this what I want to keep doing, in my life and my job?’”

Still, he recommends employees slow down and think hard before walking. Nearly a quarter of more than 1,000 workers polled by staffing firm Accountemps in 2017 said they had regrets about leaving former jobs. We often quit because we think a new gig will solve the 20% of our job that currently bugs us, Dr. Klotz says. And it might, at first.

“There’s that honeymoon period, and then you realize, ‘Oh, this company has a different set of problems,’” he says.

Consider the alternatives. Can you tweak the responsibilities of the role you have to make it a better fit? If you’re burned out, would a leave of absence help? For those desperate to hold on to remote work, Dr. Klotz recommends testing out life at the office for a couple of weeks. Maybe you’ll be shocked to find you love wearing real pants again and seeing other adults during the day. Or not—but at least you’ll know for sure before you resign.

Several years ago, Sam Jacobs left a job in a hurry. His company, a New York City tech startup, was struggling financially. His days as a sales executive began to fill with talk of pay cuts, layoffs and dwindling cash on hand. Meanwhile, a new company backed by high-profile investors was recruiting him, offering a sexy C-suite title.

“It felt like I needed to get off the sinking ship,” Mr. Jacobs says. He took the new job.

A few months later, he received a barrage of text messages. His previous company, righted by new management, had been sold. Friends and professional contacts offered their congratulations, unaware that he’d given up his stock options when he left. He’d missed out on about a million dollars, he estimates. Worse yet, he was struggling in the new role.

“In the moment, I had a horrible feeling,” he says. “It just felt like I couldn’t make a right decision.”

Now the CEO of Pavilion, a professional networking and training community, his default advice to those unsure about quitting is: Stay. Often you’ve built up your reputation and trust with colleagues at your current company. You know how to get stuff done there.

“When you take on a new job, there’s risk built into it,” he says. “There’s so much that happens if you just stick around.”

Anthony Gonzalez was torn about whether to leave his job at advertising technology company in San Francisco in late 2019. He knew how lucky he was to be friends with his colleagues and feel no anxiety on Sundays about the start of the workweek. But another firm, which specialized in digital marketing for the travel industry, approached him with the promise of a significant pay bump and a bigger team. He said yes. Five months later, with the pandemic ravaging travel, he was laid off.

His shock soon gave way to introspection. He realized he wanted to be closer to family, and moved home to the Miami area. Most companies he interviewed with wanted him back in San Francisco. But his old bosses at offered him a new role that could be done remotely.

“If I had not taken this journey, this wouldn’t have been on the table for me,” he says.

He has some regrets about leaving. He’s now reporting to someone who used to be a peer. But he’s happy with where he landed, and grateful for the perspective shift.

“I feel like a lot of times I was making decisions for all the wrong reasons,” he says.

To be sure, sometimes leaving is the answer: to a toxic boss, unsustainable hours or a can’t-miss opportunity. And even with obvious red flags in their current jobs, humans can be too scared of transitions to make a move.

Katy Milkman, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and author of the book, “How to Change,” says people tend to escalate their commitment to everything from jobs to relationships, even when they’re not working out.

As a result, she says, “You don’t optimize. You don’t achieve as much.”

So if you’ve made your pros-and-cons list, fully considered all the potential downsides of leaving and are still completely torn? It might be worth just going for it.

When Stacy Lightfoot started the application process to become the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s first vice chancellor for diversity and engagement, she was scared. Her job at the time was at a nonprofit, not a higher-education institution. And after more than 12 years, she was comfortable there.

But the impact she could have at the university, especially as the first Black woman to hold a cabinet-level position, felt big. She prepped tirelessly for round after round of interviews, including one marathon session this spring with members of the campus community.

“It was about an hour into that interview that I heard myself,” she says, and realized how ready she was for the role, if it was to be hers. “I told myself that I could do this.”

She started the job a few weeks ago. It’s going great.


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The Great Wealth Transfer: How rich millennials will invest the billions coming their way

The younger generation will bring a different mindset to how and where their newfound wealth is invested

By Bronwyn Allen
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There is an enormous global wealth transfer in its beginning stages, whereby one of the largest generations in history – the baby boomers – will pass on their wealth to their millennial children. Knight Frank’s global research report, The Wealth Report 2024, estimates the wealth transfer set to take place over the next two decades in the United States alone will amount to US$90 trillion.

But it’s not just the size of the wealth transfer that is significant. It will also deliver billions of dollars in private capital into the hands of investors with a very different mindset.

Seismic change

Wealth managers say the young and rich have a higher social and environmental consciousness than older generations. After growing up in a world where economic inequality is rife and climate change has caused massive environmental damage, they are seeing their inherited wealth as a means of doing good.

Ben Whattam, co-founder of the Modern Affluence Exchange, describes it as a “seismic change”.

“Since World War II, Western economies have been driven by an overt focus on economic prosperity,” he says. “This has come at the expense of environmental prosperity and has arguably imposed social costs. The next generation is poised to inherit huge sums, and all the research we have commissioned confirms that they value societal and environmental wellbeing alongside economic gain and are unlikely to continue the relentless pursuit of growth at all costs.”

Investing with purpose

Mr Whattam said 66% of millennials wanted to invest with a purpose compared to 49% of Gen Xers. “Climate change is the number one concern for Gen Z and whether they’re rich or just affluent, they see it as their generational responsibility to fix what has been broken by their elders.”

Mike Pickett, director of Cazenove Capital, said millennial investors were less inclined to let a wealth manager make all the decisions.

“Overall, … there is a sense of the next generation wanting to be involved and engaged in the process of how their wealth is managed – for a firm to invest their money with them instead of for them,” he said.

Mr Pickett said another significant difference between millennials and older clients was their view on residential property investment. While property has generated immense wealth for baby boomers, particularly in Australia, younger investors did not necessarily see it as the best path.

“In particular, the low interest rate environment and impressive growth in house prices of the past 15 years is unlikely to be repeated in the next 15,” he said. “I also think there is some evidence that Gen Z may be happier to rent property or lease assets such as cars, and to adopt subscription-led lifestyles.”

Impact investing is a rising trend around the world, with more young entrepreneurs and activist investors proactively campaigning for change in the older companies they are invested in. Millennials are taking note of Gen X examples of entrepreneurs trying to force change. In 2022,  Australian billionaire tech mogul and major AGL shareholder, Mike Cannon-Brookes tried to buy the company so he could shut down its coal operations and turn it into a renewable energy giant. He described his takeover bid as “the world’s biggest decarbonisation project”.


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