Fern had worked in the healthcare industry with the same employer for four years before resigning in March this year, but it wasn’t long until the feelings of regret took hold.
Fern told Yahoo Finance she had all but decided to leave her role before the COVID-19 lockdowns took hold, but delayed resigning so she could do what she could to help while it was happening.
But a poor company culture led to some of her colleagues leaving, which put all the more pressure on the ones left, leading to some serious burnout.
“I think if management had just said, ‘We know you’re overloaded and while we can’t give you a pay rise, is there anything else we can do to help you?’ that would have made the biggest difference,” Fern said.
“Just to feel like I was being heard, that I was being appreciated.”
While leaving her job wasn’t an easy decision, she came to the conclusion something had to give and decided to move from Sydney to Melbourne and change careers entirely.
“I decided to go into tech. I completed a bootcamp and started applying for junior roles but it took a long time to pick up steam,” Fern said.
“There were more than a few moments where I thought, ‘Oh my god, what have I done?’”
But ultimately Fern said while it’s been a struggle, she wouldn’t go back to her old job.
“I even had a conversation with the CEO after I left and he said if I wanted to come back, even part-time, I would be able to. But I felt that it wouldn’t be worth it to be back with the same employer, dealing with the same problems that made me need to leave to begin with,” she said.
Since leaving, Fern said almost 20 per cent of her former colleagues had also made the change, with burnout being the main issue.
Fern’s advice to anyone thinking about leaving their job is simple:
“Follow your gut. You need to take care of yourself first and if it’s really the right thing to do then it will all work out in the end.”
And when looking for a new role, Fern said it was important to stay true to your “non-negotiables” when it came to the workplace you wanted to be a part of.
“Talk to former and current employees. I’ve spent hours on LinkedIn speaking with people who have worked at companies both big and small and they can give you really good insight into how the company is run and what the culture is like,” she said.
Is ‘The Great Remorse’ a new trend?
Fern is not alone in feeling regret after leaving a job. Employment Hero chief people officer Alex Hattingh said it was actually to be expected.
“The Great Remorse trend is to be anticipated, especially with the current demand and difficulty in attracting and retaining the right talent,” Hattingh said.
“Many companies are luring high performers with false promises, which can lead to a sour taste for all parties.”
Hattingh said employers needed to be more aware of what is important to their staff because the environment was changing.
“There is a significant shift for continued remote work, and employers need to accept this desire and understand how it can have a positive impact, such as reduced cost of living, and improved well-being. Make employee happiness a priority and you'll reap the benefits,” she said.
And if an employee does decide to leave, don’t be sour about it. Hattingh said understanding why they were leaving would help them feel more understood but could also give insight into how other employees might be feeling.
“Ultimately, you want your employee to leave with a positive experience if possible. That way not only will they have good things to say about the business, but they might be more likely to come back if they're feeling 'The Great Remorse',” she said.