Published: January 10, 2022

Opinion: The Great Resignation can be our Great Resurgence

Two years on, the great pandemic has prompted all of us to take stock of our lives, and many have taken a close look at their working life. In 2021 in the United States alone, some 4.4-million citizens have not simply left their job, but they have stopped working altogether.

“The Great Resignation,” as the phenomenon has been labelled, is a function of workers contemplating what’s truly important in their lives. Is the pay for the everyday job, reporting to a jerk boss, surrounded by colleagues indifferent to your efforts, genuinely worth the negative impact on personal happiness?

The jury’s still out on how many of these millions will eventually return to paid work and how many have taken permanent early retirement. Time will tell.

But one thing is sure: millions are looking for something better and more emotionally fulfilling in their lives.

What an opportunity for piping and drumming.

Many busy people’s primary hurdle is committing enough time for a pipe band. Family and work, in that order, are priorities. When any one or a combination of family, work, and band demand is too time-consuming, something has to give, and first to go is almost always the band.

And historically, having to drop the band has pained those who love the camaraderie and joy they reap from playing pipes and drums with friends who share a passion for the music, creativity, and the endless pursuit of excellence.

As workers reassess what’s important to them and step back from their unhappy jobs, the Great Resignation is an excellent opportunity for pipe bands. The burnt-out are looking to rekindle their fire for what’s essential in their lives, and what better place to light a spark than the piping and drumming arts?

In more ways than one, bands that play together stay together.

But just as workers realized that life is too short for a jerk boss or toxic work culture, pipers and drummers also know that a jerk pipe-major or lead-drummer can wreck a hobby, surrounded by players who aren’t enjoying what they do. There’s less room than ever in the pipe band world for browbeating and humiliation by leaders and, by that token, we will eventually see what sort of resignation rate there will be in the pipe band world.

While companies have to work harder than ever to retain and attract talent with flexibility, perks, and a positive and engaging culture, so too must pipe bands strive to foster a culture of growth and creativity.

Pipe bands inherited a tradition of berating and bossy leaders from the military that used to think humiliation was a motivating tactic. While drill-sergeant pipe-majors still might exist, they had become, we believe, rare before the pandemic. During and post-pandemic, authoritarian pipe band leaders once and for all should be dismissed to history.

The pandemic has revealed many ironies. While the whole thing continues to be a gut punch to the pipe band world, there are silver linings. One of those revelations is that piping, drumming, and pipe bands bring spiritual and emotional positivity to people.

In more ways than one, bands that play together stay together.

It’s up to pipe bands and piping and drumming associations to make the most of it. They can’t just sit there and expect members to stay or come flocking back. Like employers struggling to retain staff and fill vacancies, they must be better, not at winning competitions, but at winning over personnel. They must proactively remind existing, lapsed, and potential members of the invaluable and irreplaceable spiritual positivity they can bring to one’s life through the common bonds of musical excellence, creativity, and camaraderie.

If pipe bands and associations take advantage, the Great Resignation could be, for piping and drumming, the Great Resurgence.

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