Pandemic Empowers Workers In "YOLO" Economy

Some fed-up employees aren't afraid to leave stable jobs despite economic uncertainty. As more follow, that's getting the attention of employers.

Pandemic Empowers Workers In "YOLO" Economy

"What I think this is showing us is that employees are fed up."

The pandemic isn't slowing down job turnover. In fact, it's a chance for workers to take stock of their career. Some are leaving stable jobs in hopes for something better.

"I think, a pandemic put this in perspective," said career development coach Dorianne St Fleur. "This is not the only way to work my fingers to the bone. I don't have to do work this unfulfilling. There are other options for me."

The New York Times called this the YOLO Economy — for "you only live once." Tired workers taking a professional gamble — amid economic uncertainty — to take control of their career. While this movement isn't exclusive to millennials, it's one of the generations embracing the trend. 

"I didn't have anything lined up. I had zero clients lined up by the time I left my job," said Jessie Fritz, who is a social media strategist. 

Fritz quit her job last year when much of the country was shut down last spring. She said her old job was stressing her out. So she focused on her YouTube channel and used 10 years of marketing experience to launch her own social media strategy business.

"So I just kind of went after it." Fritz said "But I will say right now it sounds very like, oh, yeah, I just went and left my job and started my own business. And that was easy. It wasn't. I was terrified. But but I'm still glad that I did it."

Cassandra Rose was in a similar spot, wanting more from her human resources job. 

"My passion for people is so strong that I was willing to walk away from a six figure job with really good benefits to start something new," she explained.

While Rose had a job lined up before leaving, the pandemic gave her time to think about what's important for her. She wanted something to reflect her she helps people navigate work benefits. 

"I can make sure that someone who needs access to health care is able to understand it and get it," Rose said. "And so that was the voice and that was the passion that moved me out of traditional to something new and exciting, scary."

Stories like the ones from Rose and Fritz could become more common. According to Prudential Financial 1 in 4 workers have thought about leaving their job after the pandemic. Experts say workers  are sending a message to companies. 

"They want to just simply have some sense of where they can go and they want the company to help them get there," said Danny Nelms, President of The Work Institute. "And unfortunately, companies are not doing enough from our perspective to place enough emphasis on that sort of career management aspect of the manager's role and as well as the companies."

"I think employers, if they don't kind of shift the way that they're looking and engaging with employees, particularly employees of color, who have realized and come to a reckoning of how the corporate world is not necessarily designed with us in mind, they're going to lose a lot of top talent," said St Fleur.

The Work Institute found 63 percent of voluntary work departures were for "more preventable reasons" — like management and work stagnation. The institute says until employers address these factors, people may be willing to go to great lengths to find the right job. For workers needing advice:

"You're the CEO of your life, you get to choose your employer, you get to choose what you do," advised Rose.

"Just be open to possibilities, reach out to your networks, ask people, even the people that you would never--I asked ask my health coach," Fritz said. "And she's the one who went out and asked a bunch of people for me. So you never know who's willing to help you."

For Newsy I'm Austin Kim