When the lockdown started, Tessa was grateful for her job with one of the leading banks in the country. Even when their branch was closed, their salaries were paid on time and in full. They also received constant assurances from their bosses that their safety and that of their clients come first.
But when the quarantine guidelines were relaxed, and banks were classified as essential services, branches started to open their doors to customers including Tessa’s.
“I was surprised to see people coming to the branches to make deposits, withdrawals and pay bills in the middle of the pandemic. To be honest, I thought we will not get many customers when we open,” she recalled.
With many clients still not comfortable with online banking, they would come to the branches for transactions that can actually be done with a few clicks, from their home or office, using their mobile phone or computer, which is a much safer way to bank in the time of COVID-19 scare.
Then Tessa’s assistant fell ill. Her mild symptoms made her decide to stay home and quarantine herself. When Tessa began to also have symptoms, she was scared and took a COVID-19 screening test.
“It came back positive and because of my loss of taste and sense of smell, I already suspected that would be the result,” she said.
Tessa was heartbroken and reached out to family and friends for assistance and advice on how to manage COVID-19 from home. While struggling with her health, her child also began to complain of similar symptoms and when tested was also confirmed positive.
“I felt so guilty. I brought home the virus and exposed my family so my mental health suffered. Add to that my physical health situation and that was a very tough month.”
She recuperated from home and even when she and her child were fully recovered, Tessa was afraid to go back to work.
“It took me months before I went back, and when I did, I was afraid every single day of contracting the virus again,” she said.
“It did not help that we keep hearing news of other employees also catching it.”
Someone from the head office, this person from another branch, and as cases piled up, Tessa no longer found comfort in having a secure job.
“I wanted to resign and stay home in the meantime. But as I was about to make that decision, more bad news will come about a new variant, or a second wave, a third wave, a deadlier wave, and I worry if our savings will be enough for our needs until things get better,” Tessa confessed.
Tessa is not alone in having these thoughts, and around the world, as economies begin to open and essential workers are the first to venture out, many are deciding to join what has been dubbed as the Great Resignation wave.
Having discovered the joys of flexible working hours and working from home, workers are not eager to resume their work life before the pandemic. And when their employers insist, they choose to resign instead of being cowed into reporting back to the office.
If you are facing a similar dilemma, why not check your financial readiness before you make a decision.
#1 Can you afford medical expenses?
Social media feeds are full of stories of how much it would cost to recover from being infected with COVID-19, and the price tag is not cheap. If you have medical insurance from your company, that’s one big help if what we do not want to happen, happens. If you resign, consider how you will handle medical expenses. Will you get medical insurance on your own to cover your family? Or will you dip into your emergency fund? That is, let’s hope you have one set aside.
#2 Can your savings cover your expenses?
Apart from medical expenses which we hope you will not have to pay, you also need to consider your daily, monthly, quarterly and annual expenses covering everything from groceries to insurance premiums to tuition fees. Ideally, your savings can cover your needs for 9 months or longer so you can sleep better at night. If you have outstanding loans, consider that also as another drain to your savings.
#3 Can you work from home?
Tessa realized that while she may have some money to cover #1 and #2 for 6 months to a year, her job is not flexible that she can do it from home. She needed access to data that can only be viewed from machines in the branch. Her clients need her for transactions that can only be done within the branch premises. So it’s #3 that held her back from resigning. “I am not sure I can find a better job if I let this one go, or if I can come back to this job if I quit now,” she admits.
#4 Can your family support you in the meantime?
Some parents welcomed back home their older children who previously lived apart from them and closer to their work. This meant more expenses for the parents but savings on living expenses for the children. The work-from-home setup that many companies are still allowing meant these “children” can save on rent, internet connectivity, electricity and even meals while living with their parents. And for those whose remote work has ended and chose to resign, it meant they could count on their family’s support in the meantime until COVID-19 goes away.
#5 Can you find another work before you quit the one you have?
COVID-19 or no, the most prudent thing for workers is to always line up a new job before they give up the one they have. If you are quitting one job because it now requires you to come to the office and you face exposure from commute and at work, ideally you should first find another job where you can work from home and will grant you same benefits and better pay if possible.
Decisions are best made with a cool head so avoid making a choice without a game plan plus consulting the people around you that you trust.
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.
Aneth Ng Lim, Paying It Forward, featured blog, blogroll, resignation, career choices, career tips, COVID-19, pandemic, workplace safety