3 Things the Pandemic Taught Me About Work

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2020 was the year we will all remember as being when normalcy was ripped out from under our feet. I, like so many other Americans, found myself without a job when the company I worked with for 9 years laid me off. It wasn’t completely unexpected. I worked in the hospitality industry, and as we saw occupancy drop and fewer guests coming through the door, I knew it was only a matter of time before I lost my job. Trying to find something new after 9 years, when so many people were out of work, was not an easy task. One year later, I find myself with a very different mindset. I actually consider being laid off a blessing in disguise.

Here are three things the pandemic taught me about work.

  1. Where you work doesn’t matter.

There are several very well-respected companies in the hospitality industry, and I worked for one of them. This particular company was known as being one of the very best with opportunities for training and advancement. I was proud to say I worked for them, and people in the industry would comment on how I must be a great worker to have been hired by them. The reputation is well earned, and I would have happily stayed there forever until I retired.

After being laid off, I realized it wasn’t the company I loved so much. It was the actual job. At the end of the day, we go to work for a paycheck. In the day-to-day tasks, do you enjoy what you do? If the answer is yes, then the things you should focus on are pretty simple. Will this company allow you the opportunity for advancement? Do they have a good benefits package? Do they pay a salary appropriate for your job and skill level? The rest just isn’t important.

2. Work-life balance is vital. Loyalty is to your family. Not your job.

Regardless of the pandemic, it hurt my feelings to be laid off. There were multiple waves of layoffs, and I somehow made the first wave. While I understand the reasoning behind the decision, it hurt enough to make me feel like the last 9 years of my life was wasted. I consistently went over and above for this job, working long hours and overtime to make sure things were done exceedingly well. I moved across the country twice for promotions and learning opportunities. I skipped family functions, taking vacations, pursuing hobbies, and even worked during chemo on days when I should have taken FMLA time. I equated success with how much time I spent working, and it was even common to be praised for this. Yet after all of this time and effort, I was still let go.

It sounds very cold, but the truth is that you are just an employee. You are one of many. As the famous saying goes, if you died tomorrow they would replace you within a week or two. A business has to run, and sadly, they can run without you.

Can your family run without you? The answer is probably no, so why are we choosing work over family?

3. Network and keep your options open.

The one thing we can all agree on is that nothing is guaranteed. You always have to have your options open. Be sure to network with former co-workers and people in the industry, so that you are known wide and far. You never know who may have opportunities for you in the future. The job that I have now came from a former coworker who knew my high level of work and was able to vouch for me when I applied for the position.

We can also sometimes get comfortable where we are without realizing that there may be better options elsewhere. For example, I didn’t realize I was being significantly underpaid in my previous position until I started applying to other companies and saw the difference in salary. Because I loved where I was so much and never planned on leaving, I would have never known this.

Losing my job was a blessing in disguise. One very hard year of learning, but I’m in a much better place for it.

What has the pandemic taught you about work?

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