The Great Resignation 2021-2022

Prior to sailing off into the sunset I was WFH for the last 5 years. Before it became such a thing I asked if the job I was doing couldn’t just as easily be done full WFH because everyone I interacted with were scattered across the country.

The company was already heading that direction and said sure.

At which point I moved across the country and never looked back. Much as I’m doing now that I don’t work there. ;)

I almost left my company, but I ended up leveraging that offer into a raise at my current job, with no ill effects or hard feelings (that I know of).

In December, a friend at a different company (whom I’ve suspected of fishing for referral bonuses for a while) referred me for a senior position at his company. I believe you should always hear someone out when they approach you about changing your material conditions (and daycare for a three-year-old and two twin babies is north of 2k per month), so I had some conversations and eventually ended up with an offer something like 40 percent more than what I make now.

Now, I’m not actually unhappy with my job. I’ve worked at my job for almost twelve years and have a lot of professional cachet built up. I switched teams a few years ago and now I do interesting work and am allowed to pursue different skillsets. And maybe most importantly, we adopted a four-day workweek in September. I could work from home permanently if I wanted (but I think I will go hybrid once the office opens again).

There’s a lot that goes into this kind of decision. Ultimately, I need to make those dollaz, though, for the sake of my family. So I decided I would do whatever put the most money in my pocket at the end of the day. Which was looking like this other offer.

Then I asked my wife, “What’s the downside of taking this offer to my boss before I accept it?”

Looking online, it seems like the only downsides had to do with your perception or reputation - you don’t want to burn a bridge, and this kind of move can do that, depending on how you approach it.

Ultimately, I decided that my relationship with my boss is good enough (he is always an advocate for me and my family) that it was worth a shot. That didn’t stop me from agonizing about it, though.

So, the day before my response was due to New Company, I send my boss an IM: “Hey, are you working from home tomorrow morning? There’s something I want to talk to you about, and I’d prefer to do it in person if we can. Can we meet for coffee out by you?”

He responds: “Are you leaving?”

Sigh. I don’t want him to worry about this overnight, and I don’t want to lie to him. So I say “We should still grab coffee, but can I call you?” He agrees.

So I lay it out for him. I say, look, I have an offer, but I haven’t accepted it. I’m not unhappy, and I wasn’t out looking for jobs. The offer is for more than what I make now, and I’m inclined to take it, but I don’t really want to. If Current Company can’t match the offer, then I don’t feel like I can justify staying, for the sake of my family. If this is a conversation we can have without damaging my reputation with Current Company, then I want to. But I also told him that if he thought this would irreparably color how he or the company view me, then I would rather just leave on good terms.

My boss is very understanding and tells me that he’s legitimately happy for me and my family but to not accept the offer until he can talk to his boss (the CFO). We keep our coffee date.

The next morning, I meet with him, and they come up with an offer that beats the one from New Company. My circumstance forced them to take a hard look at compensation, and they were truthfully not really coming up with the fair market value for me in the first place. They tell me that if New Company counters to let them know first. I say no need to bother, I snap-accept and tell New Company (politely) to kick rocks. So my four-day workweek is preserved, with compensation that allows my kids to stay in daycare.

Just one anecdote, but the takeaway should be that workers have insane amounts of leverage right now. Use it if you can, friends.

Great write up. Glad you were able to benefit from a down to earth discussion with your boss, I guess it also helps to be working for a company that has the lightbulb going off moment and realizes the true value of its employees. :)

I came across this article earlier today, I wonder what company’s paid that 5% or more out. I find the title very true to life.

That’s friggin awesome, man.

I hit the experience/skillset inflection point at which software engineers start to get paid and doubled my salary (plus decent upside) since last September now with a remote job at a fancy coastal tech company. The pandemic may have melted my brain, but it’s been great for my paycheck.

Also that approaching these things in a respectful manner is always worth it! Having been on the managerial side of that conversation at a small company that definitely was underpaying a lot of employees, it was a battle to try to get ahead of the pay thing as the true higher ups just see a big budget increase. Having an employee nobody wants to lose show up with a job offer for much higher makes it a way easier conversation to get that proper increase as it’s no longer theoretical that your salary could cause you to leave.

What you did is a template for leveraging a job offer to stay at your current company. I’ve always been of the mind that once you signal an intent to leave, you’ve marked yourself with an employer, so one should never accept a counter-offer.

The way you did this changes my perceptions. Thanks for that, and continued success!

I did something very similar and it worked just like in @SadleyBradley 's case (that was 2 years ago, BTW), so I can confirm it can happen. It depends a lot on the company (and your boss), of course, but it’s definitely possible.

I have done it plenty of times and it’s never been a problem staying. The key is to just frame it in a conciliatory way: “I like it here but my compensation is obviously below market and hopefully we can work something out”

I used to drive 24 miles to and from work every day, and the only way was a particularly nasty corridor of highway that made my travel time about 45 minutes each way. I’ve already told my bosses that if they reversed and said I needed to come back into the office every day again, I’d be immediately looking for a new job. The time and money I’ve saved in these two years is well worth it even though I like my job.

Do I miss seeing my coworkers? Yup, but not enough to make up the difference.

It’s funny, one of the reasons I took my current job (nearly seven years ago now) was because I was tired of working from home full time, I kind of wanted to be in an office, to be around people a little more often and feel less isolated. But I’ve been WFH full time for two years now and I would find it hard to go back. Obviously COVID changed things, but there are other smaller differences that collectively change the way I look at things. I can walk my kids to and from school each day, for one. I don’t think my job is going to be pushing for folks to come back - there isn’t enough desk space for everyone onsite full time anyway. But I guess I’ll reevaluate if and when the time comes.

I should really work in the office my; my capacity to self-motivate has cratered in the midst of the pandemic, and I genuinely like being around people in general and my coworkers/team specifically, but the lure of sleeping in a little extra, not having to swap soft PJs for itchy work pants, and maybe being able to sneak in a quick nap or tv episode when my brain is slowing down early afternoon is just too strong, so I’m definitely pushing my job’s fairly vague work from home arrangements right now. We’re getting a new director soon, and I suspect that’ll change.

It’ll be more productive for me to be back in the office, but lord the laziness perks of being at home are gonna be tough to give up.

Are you like me and happier when you’re actually engaged and not feeling the laziness quite so, er, heavily though?

This has been the biggest piece for us internally. You have an entire generation of workers who have never been around inflation higher than 2%, an entire generation of executives that have never managed in that environment, and all of the other factors that have every corporate leadership protecting the bottom line first and all other stakeholders second. Our leadership ended up settling on 2.5% for bonus-eligible employees and 5% for non-bonus-eligible (we had a very good bonus this year, for what it’s worth), and from what I can tell they thought that was extremely generous and they had to work on the CFO for quite a while to get there.

Meanwhile, the various middle-management shmucks (hi!) have now spent the last month scrambling to get additional ad-hoc raises and promotions approved for our best people, and we know that even with those in place there are going to be offers out there in the market that will cost us. Those good bonuses pay out on Friday, and I expect the movement-related gossip to be flying over the next few weeks.

Both job changes had me telling the current boss what my new number was and them literally going, “Pfff! How am I supposed to keep people? Ugh.”

Yeah, our union negotiated 2% per year for 5 years! So I will only fall behind by what, 5% per year over the next 4 years?

God no, I hate working or being responsible for anything. If I could spend the rest of my life uselessly rolling around in bed, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

Another thing I remembered:

late 2019: “We really can’t spend more money, all economists agree that 3.5% unemployment is full employment and only inflation can result”.
March 2022: “This 3.8% unemployment is ridiculous, no one wants to work and now we’re getting inflation”!
That’s a great theory there.

My man.

Heh, this sounds very similar to our company. Very good bonus (cap was revised upwards and we still hit the max) hitting bank accounts on Friday, best year in company history - and in the same memo they announce our best year ever try to sound all excited about average raises of 3.5%… which is half a percent more than we got last year.

Yesterday was also our first day back in office in 2 years. While billed as being “only” 3 days a month leadership is already talking and acting in a way that sounds like they’ll try and expand that as soon as possible. Despite their surveys indicating that people are more productive and prefer working from home.

I’m skeptical on this. I mean in general, not that I think your play didn’t work for you. I’ve done it as well in exactly the conciliatory manner we are discussing here, and ended up regretting it. I stayed at that job another couple of years after accepting their counter offer and getting a nice bump in pay. At the time I thought it was well played, but a year later at raise time they cited the “out of cycle large increase” I had been given (their counteroffer) as a reason why I only qualified for a paltry increase. I also found out later that I was never seriously considered for an internal promotion I interviewed for because the manager didn’t believe I’d stick around. Well, I guess she was right in a self-fulfilling prophecy kind of way. I realized management certain segments of management had soured on me and away I went.