The “Great Resignation” & Employee Engagement

The “Great Resignation” & Employee Engagement

There have been several articles about the “great resignation” and how the pandemic set in motion the desire for workers to leave their current job. The release of a Microsoft study called The Next Great Disruption Is Hybrid Work – Are We Ready? studied 30,000 global workers who expressed the desire to leave their jobs by the end of 2020. It revealed that 41% of workers globally are thinking about handing in their notice in 6 to 12 months.

As summarized in the World Economic Forum, “More than half of 18 to 25 year-olds in the workforce are considering quitting their job. And they’re not the only ones. Microsoft found that as well as 54% of Generation Z workers are considering handing in their resignation. Similarly, a UK and Ireland survey found that 38% of employees were planning to leave their jobs in the next six months to a year, while a US survey by Prudential reported that 42% of employees would quit if their company didn’t offer remote working options long term.”

“The great resignation is propelled by three forces: the changing generation, the economic crisis, and the realization people have had that they can have a different social contract, spending more time with family when they work remote and skip the commute,”

                            - Shahar Erez, CEO of the freelance talent platform Stoke.

With 4 million people quitting their jobs in April, according to the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary released a few weeks ago, it’s already happening. It made me wonder if the tight job market will open up more opportunities for recent college graduates as well as older workers. These are the two cohorts of people who have had the most difficulty landing a position. Having too little experience or being labeled as “overqualified” are biases that happen at the hiring level. It also made me wonder about innovative practices companies are adopting to increase employee engagement and retain their talent. Progressive companies offer things like learning and development programs. More companies are offering wellness benefits to make work-life balance more attainable. More importantly, progressive companies survey employees and provide quarterly assessments to learn about their career interests and tap into their talent on a deeper level. It’s not surprising that this has far better outcomes than forcing people to stay in one lane in their specific job role for years and years. Daniel Pink in his book, “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” talks about three things that motivate people at work. 1. Mastery 2. Autonomy and 3. Purpose. If “mastery” of a job doesn’t evolve and provide more opportunities for growth, feeling stagnant may cause someone to leave. Autonomy equals trust. Many employers were forced to give their employees autonomy and allow them to work from home. And now 42% have said they will quit if they can’t work remotely. Of course, the flip side to remote working is digital burnout which is one more challenge employers need to consider. Purpose is something that is personally meaningful. Why do you care about what you’re doing? Purpose could also be articulated through a company’s manifesto as well as through leadership. Authentic employee engagement options are going to be the key to keeping happy and talented employees.

The pandemic has reshaped the way we work forever and employees' needs have changed in a significant way. The Microsoft study outlined seven major trends to consider.

Work Trends from Microsoft Study:
  1. Flexible work is here to stay
  2. Leaders are out of touch with employees and need a wake-up call
  3. High productivity is masking an exhausted workforce
  4. Gen Z is at risk and will need to be re-energized
  5. Shrinking networks are endangering innovation
  6. Authenticity will spur productivity and wellbeing
  7. Talent is everywhere in a hybrid world

Reviewed & Recommended:  

The Great Resignation: Why Millions of Workers Are Quitting Their Jobs

40% of employees are thinking of quitting their jobs, says survey | World Economic Forum

How employers can prepare for the 'great resignation'

Video: Daniel Pink: "Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us"

Longevity & the YOLO Life

Longevity & the YOLO Life

Earlier this week, The New York Times wrote about a new trend. Apparently, younger workers are leaving their well paying jobs in droves. They call it the “YOLO economy” which stands for “You Only Live Once”. The pandemic has changed many people’s priorities and with so much time to reassess our values and figure out why some of us are so unhappy, it’s not a big shock. 

Time For An Extreme Pivot?

The desire for a YOLO lifestyle is trending for older professionals as well. People in their 40s, 50s and 60s are deciding to exit long term careers, downsize earlier than planned, and do life differently as a result of the pandemic. They are seizing the day and reimagining their futures. Some older professionals believe now is a good time to make a career pivot and explore more meaningful options. A woman I know decided to leave a hospitality design firm and start a clothing line (targeting older women) using recycled cashmere. Another person I know is making plans to leave her tech job and become an organic farmer in France. They’re both in their 50s and although they have savings, neither of them are wealthy. Both of them evaluated their current situation and felt inspired to make enormous changes. With work from home technology advancing rapidly, it opens up so many opportunities for everyone. 

Others are leaving because their companies want them back in the office full time. The remote work genie is out of the bottle and when companies insist on being in an office, it feels a bit like big brother is trying to gain control. I don’t know anyone who likes that feeling or believes that will attract and retain talented employees - no matter what age you happen to be. Many employers realize it’s going to take more than a $50 Amazon gift card to keep their talented staff from leaving.  In fact, The New York Times wrote, “A recent Microsoft survey found that more than 40 percent of workers globally were considering leaving their jobs this year. Blind, an anonymous social network that is popular with tech workers, recently found that 49 percent of its users planned to get a new job this year.” The Microsoft survey was conducted with all different ages in the workforce.

On April 12th, 2021 in response to the YOLO trend,  @analogbath responded on Twitter:

“This is 100% a thing and has been for the last year or so. I have a handful of 

friends who have left their jobs from IT executives to lawyers jumping in 

a car and living out of it while working remotely. I’m fucking 40 years old.”

- Dee Rock

The Resilient X Factor

Older generations have seen economies crash and have weathered storms in the U.S. such as the gas shortage in the 70's, recession in the late 80s, 9/11 attacks and another slump in 2008 thanks to the financial crisis. My friend, Jim who is in his 60s said, “Bring it on, global pandemic. I’ve been through it all and COVID will not bring me down”. Maybe that’s one reason why they’re doing better psychologically during the pandemic than younger generations. “Older people have been through more. They show more resilience and emotional intelligence and fortitude than any other generation” said Ken Dychtwald, the founder and CEO of Age Wave. Gen X, born between 1965 and 1980 are often referred to as the “sandwich generation” because many are caring for children and older parents. They’ve also been the generation of “latchkey kids” being left alone after school since both parents went to work. The theory is that because they were left alone at home for years, Gen Xers have adapted more easily living in isolation.

The Reality

While the YOLO economy sounds aspirational and exciting, we realize that some older professionals have either been pushed out of the workforce or they simply do not have the means to take the leap. And many of them are forced into early retirement as a result of the pandemic. According to the Pew Research Center, “In the third quarter of 2020, about 28.6 million Baby Boomers – those born between 1946 and 1964 – reported that they were out of the labor force due to retirement. This is 3.2 million more Boomers than the 25.4 million who were retired in the same quarter of 2019.” And we all know that getting back into a full time job with fabulous benefits is more difficult for many older professionals and we all know the reasons why. The most sage advice from coaches and future of work specialists we’ve had on the illume hire webinar has been consistent. Whether or not you plan on being in the tech field, learn more technology. Make it a goal to learn about trello, airtable, loom, miro, crowdcast and so many amazing (and easy) tools.

If you’re rethinking your life purpose and crave the idea of disrupting yourself to achieve a YOLO life, having a game plan and asking these questions might help before taking the leap.

5 YOLO Questions to Ask:

  1. If I don’t do this, will I regret it?
  2. What’s the worst thing that could happen? 
  3. Can I live with that worst case scenario?
  4. Have I mapped out the next year or two?
  5. Do I have a plan C?

Since you only live once, why stay at a job that makes you miserable?

Separately, if anyone is interested in joining a community talking about the future of work and different opportunities that exist for professional “olders”, please send me a note at Make it an awesome week.

Future of Work Trends:  Innovation In Sustainability

Future of Work Trends: Innovation In Sustainability

Fifteen years ago, my friend, Steve asked if I’d give up my coveted parking space in a building across the ferry building in San Francisco.  He worked for a car sharing company and they were expanding rapidly and they wanted my space.  What was the incentive?  Doing my part to reduce my carbon footprint.  With the unusual reduction in car travel during the pandemic, it’s shed more light on how we can reduce emissions. Climate change problems won’t be solved overnight but it does provide a window into career opportunities for people who enjoy solving complex problems. We took a look at sustainability and different career opportunities.

Environmental & Green Industry:

Since the U.S. rejoined the World Health Organization and the Paris Accords, there’s a renewed focus on environmental issues.  It’s a great start but it isn’t enough.  In fact, a recent study revealed that the world must nearly double its greenhouse gas-cutting goals to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change. As a result, more people will be needed in urban planning to design carless sustainable cities. Check out this innovative idea from France where urban designers planted trees over a footbridge in Paris.

Companies know they need to be proactive and make substantial changes to be more sustainable because ultimately, it will help their bottom line.  According to the New York Times, “In all, the world’s largest companies estimated that at least $250 billion of assets may need to be written off or retired early as the planet heats up. Those assets include buildings in high-risk flood zones, or power plants that may have to shut down in response to tighter pollution rules.” As regulations regarding energy standards are implemented, organizations will need to prepare for a potential rise in operational and investment costs. But the companies that are able to innovate by putting climate change at the center of their strategic planning and successfully build a low-carbon, high-resilience supply chain can look forward to reduced costs and increased efficiencies.  Because of this reality, being forward thinking is at the top of the list for many CEOs.   

Green Jobs in Demand:

Environmental Science and Protection Technician - Need Associate's Degree

Job responsibilities for this career include monitoring organizations to ensure they are in compliance with safety regulations, gathering and analyzing water, soil, or air samples, and creating reports based on sample analysis to help improve organizations' environmental compliance. Environmental science and protection technicians are often employed by management, scientific, and technical consulting firms or government agencies and may often travel or work outside. This career usually requires an associate's degree in environmental science or a related field.

Sustainability Specialist - Need Bachelor's Degree

A sustainability specialist assists organizations and they create and streamline green work processes. You will do so by examining an organization's natural resource and energy usage, presenting organizations with recommendations on cost-effective ways to improve their environmental footprint, and designing and implementing public relations material to educate the public on sustainability issues. Sustainability specialists will need a bachelor's degree.

Social Marketer - Need Bachelor’s Degree

Branding social enterprises or social marketing campaigns in order to change public behavior and to be more transparent are also in high demand. If storytelling and account management interest you, look at design firms and agencies working on these kinds of projects such as IDEO and Fenton to spark inspiration.  

Green Terms:

Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 

There are 17 SDG goals, created by the United Nations Development Program and adopted in 2015 by 193 countries.  They’re meant to be “a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.” Focusing on sustainable development will ramp up investment in interconnected areas such as green infrastructure, health, education, conservation of land and water, justice and equity. Many nonprofits and the private sector have been encouraged to align at least one aspect of their organization to one of the 17 SDG initiatives. If you’re passionate about any of these global problems, talk about it in an interview if the company clearly states their SDGs on their site.  That could be a memorable interview.

Environmental Social & Governance (ESG) 

As more companies become transparent (because consumers are demanding it) about their commitment to ESG, the more knowledge will be needed about how to monitor companies. Many investment firms need knowledgeable people who know how to monitor companies and about “impact investing” They’re looking for people to conduct research on ESG compliant companies.  It’s also called “SRI” for socially responsible investing. Blackrock is a global investment firm that has a social impact fund and they’re also a company that values hiring older, experienced professionals.  Researchers, writers and marketers are positions they have posted currently.

Even though I opted to keep my car space in San Francisco all those years ago, I’m more aware about the need to have essentials nearby so I can walk instead. With workplace transformation and a lack of offices needed, I wonder what will happen to all those parking lots downtown?


Reviewed & Recommended:

ESG framework by McKinsey

11 eco-friendly brands that put the planet first - 99designs

Six Companies Stepping Up with Investments in Economic and Social Justice

Climate Action Tracker: Home

Recap: Happy Hour with Adam Day

Recap: Happy Hour with Adam Day

A few weeks ago, we had Adam Day who is a consultant, and leadership coach for The Medici Group on our happy hour podcast.  He’s worked for brands such as Nike and WeWork where he focused on team performance, diversity, equity and inclusion, and how companies can elevate their workplace experiences through the integration of HR, design and technology.  We discussed the future of work and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and what he’s hearing from leadership at different companies. Here are some high-level workplace trends that Adam envisions in 2021 and beyond.

  • College, Careers & Retirement are Transforming:  The beginning and the end of careers are transforming. We are rethinking college education just as we are rethinking retirement. In both, we’re moving from something standardized and binary, to something that is more fluid, customized and hybrid. There are opportunities to explore more, and contribute more, in these key career moments. 
  • Remote Work:  Talent is dispersing and taking the keys. Remote work improves an organization's access to talent and the ability of workers to live in new places. In many sectors and roles, how work gets done is governed more and more by talent rather than management. This is a huge opportunity for lifestyle changes and access to global opportunities from anywhere. 
  • The Hybrid Office:  The death and rebirth of the office. The office has always been a cost center. You hire people and add desks and offices.  Now we realize that the purpose of the office isn’t desks for workers, it is to convene, connect and collaborate--and it is voluntary. Now the office is like any other service offering--it will need to prove its value for your time. 
  • Data & Privacy for Employees:  The promise and perils of workplace analytics. What the organizational data companies have now is incredibly powerful. If it is used too aggressively to monitor and enforce, it can backfire. But it can also empower growth and shine a light on things that were previously unseeable. We’ll need to find ways to share the benefits while preserving adequate privacy. 
  • Diversity Drives Innovation:  Numerous studies have proven this to be true. This is a core mantra of the Medici Group, and we see it play out with clients around the world. The pace of change is accelerating. Almost every company is adapting or transforming its business model. And that process requires the recombination of experiences and ideas--and older employees have a lot to contribute, not just in their domain expertise, but how that informs unrelated challenges. They can solve problems others don’t see. 

Recommendations on what matters in the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion space:

  • The leadership team reflects the diversity of the employee base and consumers the company serves, and they consistently affirm the value of diversity and inclusion in the organization. 
  • Executive compensation is directly tied to diversity targets--recruitment, retention and promotion. 
  • The company regularly assesses and adjusts pay equity across all roles and levels. 
  • The head of DE&I controls aspects of HR budgets, and has resources to drive impact (as opposed to an executive position without any real influence). 
  • Company leaders see DE&I as the way to drive performance as well as innovation. They create space for hard conversations, and bring DE&I values to life day-to-day. 
  • There is a culture of inclusion. People can bring their whole selves to work and have that diversity be respected and valued and seen as a benefit to the company. 

Capabilities needed of future leaders and workers:

  • Trust:  Knowing how to trust, manage and motivate remote teams.The pandemic and remote working has exposed a lot of bad management. Micromanagement or hierarchical mindsets don’t work well with distributed teams in environments of rapid change. Companies need managers and leaders that can navigate this environment and unleash the potential of their workforces. This is about mindset and experience and age can be an advantage. The days when managers had to see the whites of your eyes to make sure you’re working are over.
  • Collaboration:  Working at the intersection: being confident and capable of collaborating across cultures and disciplines. With more years of work experience, there can be a tendency to stay in one track. It will be an advantage to be able to leverage your expertise across other domains in useful and innovative ways. The more specialized subfunctions become, the more there are needs for translation across divisions to facilitate making trade-offs and combining insights. 
  • Be Curious & Challenge Assumptions: Embrace the unexpected--inclusively. 

Too many companies have seen teams perfectly execute the wrong plans. Leaders are desperate for employees with the curiosity and drive to figure out what works, what doesn’t, and make it happen as fast as possible--and do that in a way that is inclusive and collegial. No one has time for great ideas that are offset by disrespect or exclusion.  If you’d like to listen to the entire conversation with Adam, you can watch the replay on our Events page.

Below are recommendations of books, companies and future of work and DE&I experts Adam respects.

Relevant books on future of work, diversity, intergenerational workforce:

Companies focused on improving the future of work (that Adam has hired, admires the founders, and/or have worked for):

‘Future of work’ and DEI practitioners worth tracking:

A New Year & Curated Newsletters

A New Year & Curated Newsletters

It’s been hard to concentrate the last few days and many people I’ve spoken with are feeling the same way. Typically our newsletter goes out on Thursdays but here we are on Friday (again) and that’s OK. Every year, there’s a ritual of setting goals and making a plan but this week doesn’t feel motivating or authentic to tackle a vision board. So instead, I’m focusing on newsletters I’ve found over the last few months that have made me smile, made me a bit smarter and above all have made me explore different topics, ideas, and possibilities.

Newsletter Topic: Purpose 

  • In almost every meeting I’ve had over the last six months, the notion of doing something meaningful or purpose-driven has come up in conversations. John Wood is the author of “Leaving Microsoft to Change the World” which recounts how he used his business acumen during his career in technology to develop one of the fastest growing nonprofits in history. He’s also the Founder of Room to Read, an organization that believes world change starts with educated children. Room to Read has brought education to 16.6 million children in 16 countries. His newsletter provides brief updates on book and travel recommendations, philanthropy and inspiring stories of business leaders who are "powered by purpose". John Wood Newsletter - Business leaders who are powered by purpose.

Newsletter Topic: Business

  • Morning Brew provides a quick recap of business topics and trends. The Hustle curates the latest business news and trends as well. I like it because it gives me some perspective on what other people feel is noteworthy.

  • Lin Jin is a Harvard graduate who wants people to know that if they’ve been laid off, they can easily build and grow their own company without the help of a developer. Recently, she launched a Substack newsletter called Side Hustle Stack. It's a gold mine of resources to find platform-based work, ranging from gig work and side hustles to platforms that help you start a small business that can grow.

  • When I talked about a no code course to my tech savvy friend, he told me about the Makerpad: Build & operate businesses without code newsletter which provides advice and tutorials about new technology (specifically no code products to build a business easily).  Since I am interested in Future of Work topics, I search for information about new tech tools and want to learn about companies that have thrived during the pandemic. Packy McCormack’s Not Boring: The Best Is Yet To Come newsletter makes this topic not boring at all.

“When it is all said and done, I believe that historians will look back at the Coronavirus pandemic as the greatest catalyst for progress and creativity in human history.”
                                - Packy McCormack, Not Boring

  • For all the freelancers, out there, check out The Freelancer newsletter for all your questions and resources answered.

Newsletter Topic: Career

  • Emma Gannon is the Author of “The Multi Hyphen Method: Work Less, Create More. How to Make Your Side Hustle Work for You” and is the #1 podcaster on the topic of careers in the UK called “Ctrl Alt Delete”. Her newsletter is a delightful mix of work, wellness and creativity. Join thousands of curious readers & join The Hyphen newsletter.

Newsletter Topic: Wellness & Development

  • Ness Labs is science-based content to answer the question: “How can we make the most of our lives without sacrificing our mental health?” Ness Labs - Make the most of your mind
  • Shane Parrish is the creator of a podcast called Knowledge Project and it’s excellent. He cuts right to the chase with his questions for his guests and has a variety of topics. His newsletter is called “Brain Food” and it comes out every Sunday.  There’s always something new and thoughtful in it. Brain Food fs newsletter

At first I was hesitant to submit my email address thinking I’d be bombarded with unnecessary emails but after reviewing them, I fell in love. I’m convinced these will help with 2021 audacious goals and that giant vision board... eventually.


3 Lessons From 2020

3 Lessons From 2020

2020 has not exactly been a gem of a year but cheers to the light around the corner.  

Sometimes (OK, always) I tend to go down a rabbit hole when I find interesting articles and resources so I wanted to share a few things I learned along the way.

1. Tiny Habits Coach to Achieve Goals:

Big goals can be overwhelming so breaking them down to smaller habits is more effective according to BJ Fogg, a behavior scientist at Stanford. BJ wrote “Tiny Habits” in 2019 and there’s a formula to follow to get to your end goal. We spoke on the phone in July and he gave me insights on how to create more habits that turn into consistent positive behaviors. We wrote about his research on behavior design and his steps here.

Right now he’s offering a free coaching series for 5 days. He has certified coaches that you can choose based on your needs and can participate in a 5 day “Tiny Habits Challenge” one on one.  Sign up for it here.  If you want to learn more about BJ Fogg, he’s been interviewed on several podcasts and videos.  

2. Building a Business or Startup:

I was lucky to be accepted into a startup course called Founder Institute in the Fall.  Although I left the program after three months, I learned so much from my cohort and the content provided. One article (Forbes 2013) is a comprehensive guide that discusses the steps to take when considering startup ideas. I’ve sent this to friends who are startup curious and they’ve found it valuable.

  • What Are The Best Ways to Think of Ideas For a Startup?  Forbes
  • Naval Ravikant is the CEO and co-founder of AngelList. He’s invested in more than 100 companies, including Uber, Twitter, and Yammer.  I learned about him through a podcast by Shane Parrish of The Knowledge Project. If you enjoy listening to deep thinkers, his interview is excellent and was one of their most popular episodes.  Naval Ravikant: The Angel Philosopher [The Knowledge Project Ep. #18].  There’s a book about Naval’s life philosophies and his compilation of wisdom about wealth, taking risks and leadership among other things.  His book can be downloaded for free here
  • If you’re searching for topics on self-development and business-related topics such as strategy, and creativity, this is an excellent resource I found on Twitter.  It was compiled by Steve Schlafman of High Output, a leadership development firm. The curated list:  Bookshelf Recommendations
  • If you’re wondering if you should start a business, this article explains why midlife is a perfect time. Sheila Callaham is a Forbes Contributor and was one of our webinar guests and wrote about the ideal age to found a company. Why 50 is the Best Time to Found a Company - Forbes

3. Future of Work & Longevity:

Since work is no longer a guarantee of material security, how can we empower ourselves and keep earning money?  Living longer and healthier lives is a good thing but with a retirement crisis, how can we remain financially secure in midlife?

  • We wrote about areas of growth in the future of work and focused on the non-technical opportunities here.  We also wrote about the Passion Economy and how this is a trend for people to earn money.  One reason is because access to no-code technology tools makes it so much easier to get started.
  • Gartner outlined the digital skills that will be needed in the future - beyond IT positions.  Lack of Skills Threatens Digital Transformation.
  • If you want to geek out about longevity and the impact the changing work demographics will have globally (and possible career ideas), check out the 2020 Stanford Longevity Century Summit.  It’s a free recording of the event and includes experts from all over the world.

“A report by the World Economic Forum indicates that by 2022 the job skills most required by employers will include not only proficiency with new technologies, but also creativity, emotional intelligence and critical thinking skills. The report also found that over half of all existing workers will require significant reskilling and upskilling to meet the demands of the changing labour market.”

We’re staying open to new possibilities and ideas in 2021 and want to hear from you about topics you’re interested in learning more about. Also, if you’ve found resources that you consider gems in a bummer of a year, we’d love to hear about them. Whether it’s for personal or professional development, please reach out at

Happy New Year!