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The Great Resignation

Tiredness and overwork are a part of almost all of our conversations in the world of community organizations. That tiredness and overwork  amongst other factors have led to a wave of resignations. Is this a consequence of the pandemic or simply a response to the state of the community sector in Québec more generally?


We came across this interesting article by Victoria Silverman for the Blue Avocado blog titled “Re-evaluating the Great Resignation“, in which she talks about resignations in the nonprofit causing a re-evaluation of our internal practices and ways of doing this. As community organizations here are facing a wave of resignations. We also learn from our neighbours from the south.


At COCo, we’re still humbly figuring out how to mend the overwhelming demands for our services with what we can offer. Certainly, maintaining the pre-pandemic standards within the team hasn’t worked, that’s why we’re now looking at setting new norms and new ways of working. Part of that has included reckoning with our own turnover by tired and burned out staff. Though some efforts to shift things have been happening since the beginning of the pandemic.


Resignation and Re-Evaluation

In the article, Silverman distinguishes reevaluation from resignation the following way:


‘’In a sector long known for far-too-modest salaries, tireless work, and the perceived requirement of on-site presence, the time and space at home during the Covid shutdown afforded many nonprofit employees the opportunity to step back and take stock of their lives. And more than a few nonprofit employees realized that while the work might be fulfilling in many ways, it severely lacked in other areas…” 


Silverman goes on to say that nonprofit employee re-evaluated what they wanted in a workplace:


‘’Those who actually left positions were seeking a different set of so-called benefits in addition to traditional benefits like salary and health insurance. That is, they re-evaluated what mattered most to them personally: their families, their self-care, and organizational attention to and work on anti-racism and inclusiveness… While challenging for the sector to navigate, this re-evaluation has been a positive shift and, quite frankly, one that’s been a long time coming. The collective demand of the workforce has pressured nonprofit organizations to raise the bar in what they offer to current (and prospective) employees. In fact, savvy organizations should pay attention to three key areas in order to attract, retain, and grow their staff.’’

Further insights

Silverman suggests three kinds of insights to the “great resignation” and the “great re-evaluation”. Though we recognize that the application of these insights might not be as simple. Several factors include the type of funding, the size of your organization and the capacity might play a role. 


  1. Offering better compensation.  This is obviously a problem in the Quebec and Canadian community sector. For more information on improving working conditions, click on this resource created by Imagine Canada. As many research show, BIPOC non-binary people and women are overrepresented in the sector and face lower wages and underfunding.
  2. Posting real job descriptions. This is something we are really passionate about. For more information about rethinking the hiring process and job descriptions, click here.  
  3. Creating a culture of belonging.  This is a much more challenging solution to actually implement, but is extremely important. Here’s one Link to culture change information and another.


These points definitely leave food for thoughts. Would it be time for our organizations to create a Great Reevaluation? Nonetheless, there are more systemic nuances to this conversation that could be explored with your team.