IN THE MIDDLE | career advancement

Christmas Career Crisis: To Call It A Day After Receiving Your 13th Month Pay?

By Alyanna Silvestre
Published December 17, 2020

This year’s holiday season may be merry, but some remain wary, what with the current health crisis and the state of the Philippine economy. The uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and the fast-approaching end of the year had us thinking about whether leaving a job for ‘greener pastures’ after receiving your 13th-month pay is an option.

According to the Labor Turnover Survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) in 2019, the rate of separation – which covers termination and resignation — for the first and second quarters of 2019 are both at 8.8 percent, indicating that out of the 1000 employed individuals, 88 of them either resigned or were fired. Meanwhile, the separation rate for the second half of that year decreased at 5.9 percent in the third quarter to 4.7 percent in the fourth quarter.

While the data did not debunk the legitimacy of the practice, the LTS brought to light the fact that more employees decided to leave their job during the first half of 2019.

As for today, it may be hard to gauge whether it is true due to the COVID-19 outbreak. So, we look into the factors that might impact the decision of an employee to hand in their resignation after Christmas.

Labor Situation

For starters, employee turnover this year may have increased as the Philippines continues its fight against COVID-19.

The country suffered its deepest contraction on record in the second quarter of 2020. Many businesses, including some of the country’s largest conglomerates, were not spared as drastic quarantine restrictions imposed in the metro paralyzed their operations. With this, owners and entrepreneurs busy themselves in exhausting ways to stay afloat, and sacrifices were made in the form of layoffs and retrenchment. However, some firms strongly affected by the outbreak are forced to permanently shut down.

Due to the downsizing of the workforce in various industries and the closure of numerous firms, the unemployment rate in the country reached a record-high of 17.7 percent in April. Though this number eased to 8.7 percent in October according to recent official data shown by the PSA, the number of people actively looking for jobs in the same month was only at 58.7 percent, the second-lowest since 2005. These drop-in numbers don’t entirely mean that people are getting employed. With the pandemic, this decrease can be attributed to more individuals deciding to hold off their job search for various reasons.

The Shape of the Job Market

With more individuals looking and waiting for job opportunities, the labor market has tightened. The number of jobs available may be increasing due to the reopening of the economy, but it is not enough for everyone.

Recent graduates may find themselves in a tough competition with professionals as the latter sector becomes open to entry-level positions or short-term works in the meantime.

The Exhausted Generation in the Workplace

Called the burnout generation by Montana-based culture journalist Anne Helen Petersen, millennials are known to seek a work environment that has room for flexibility and growth. Taking up a huge part of the Philippine population, most people view them as easily-dissatisfied individuals who opt to quit work to look for a job that benefits them more or something that they are passionate about.

But as the pandemic hit, the views of the younger generation on their career have changed. An informal poll of Deloitte Philippines showed that 85 percent of the millennial respondents enjoy having the commute-free lifestyle of working from home as it helped them relieve stress and achieve an ideal work-life balance.

However, despite its advantages, working in the comfort of your own has its drawbacks. This setup, combined with the uncertainty from the health crisis, impacts the workforce’s mental health and well-being. This, no matter the generation, may negatively affect the employee or organization’s productivity and drive to continue working.

Unfamiliar Future

As workers, we've all been in the same process of weighing the ultimate decision to look for better employment opportunities at least once in our career. But the uneasiness caused by the outbreak has people longing for stability and security.

While everyone is still trying to get used to this unfamiliar territory that the current health crisis opened, employees at a crossroads are entitled to be cautious in taking steps to improve their careers. With so much to consider, it is best to take a closer look at whether they can tolerate the cons and be satisfied with the pros of leaving a job or keeping one. Maintaining an open mind while treading carefully will go a long way. After all, there is nothing wrong with wanting a fresh start in the new year.