Back in 2019, Anthony Klotz, associate professor of management at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School, predicted that employees would begin to leave their jobs in higher number than we have ever seen. He coined the term, The Great Resignation. Just two years later, it seems this phenomenon has arrived. According to the Labor Department, in April of this year, 4 million workers had quit their jobs, a 20-year record. Meanwhile, Gallup found that nearly half of employees (48%) are actively searching for new opportunities. Businesses will absolutely need to look over their finances to improve compensation and benefit packages, however, money isn’t the only factor employees are thinking about when leaving their jobs. Employees are rethinking how and where they work and of course, we have the covid-19 pandemic to thank for that. Work has changed drastically since March 2020 and for many, there really is no going back to the way things were.
While we all may be inclined to wonder if the grass is greener somewhere else from time to time, if your employees are truly happy, feel supported and like coming to work, they will be less likely to stray. Bottom line: you need to focus on how to make a team environment that is bragworthy.
Here is a few ways to get started to not only retain your existing talent but attract new talent as well:
1. Don't skip check in questions at meetings. While check in questions can sometimes feel time consuming or even unnecessary, especially if there are many deadlines approaching, it’s still vital to make the time to check in with your team. Warm up questions and ice breakers not only grounds the group but also gives everyone the opportunity to learn something new about each other. Not only can you learn about people’s interests and accomplishments outside of work, but you can also learn how people think by the way they interpret questions. Most of all, check in questions can help with better overall communication. Each person has a chance to have the metaphorical mic and share something where there is no “wrong answer,” which builds confidence. It’s also an opportunity for everyone to practice active listening while their colleagues are talking.
2. Intentionally learn about your employee's skillsets and encourage growth. Remember that just because you’ve hired someone from a certain position doesn’t mean that’s where their skillsets begin and end. Too often, managers are underutilizing employees because they don’t make the effort to learn about their employee’s full range of skills and interests. Someone on your accounting team might be just as good with words as they are with numbers. Or someone who isn’t client-facing might have the exact personality and skills who should be interacting with your clients. The worst thing for your company is for your employees to get bored. Encouraging your team to show off hidden skills not only makes them feel good but also helps them feel like they aren’t just a cog in a machine.
3. Make work fun. You don’t want your employees to end up like Jack Torrance in The Shining, for obvious reasons. The main reason- burned out employees aren’t productive! In addition to encouraging breaks, leaders should utilize time in the work day for team bonding and non-related work activities. Easy ways to do this are simply by making a point to have regular lunch/coffee outings or celebrating employees’ birthdays. There are also ways to get creative with fun at work. Since your goal is to have your employees brag about the work environment, one idea is encouraging bragging about each other! Keep a brag bag jar (or you could create a survey for submitting brags virtually) and have employees write compliments about their colleagues. At the end of the week or at a monthly meeting, share these brags out loud to the team. Adding intentional fun to the work week, adds to the overall morale and we guarantee, this is going make your work environment stand out.
4. Lead with empathy. We are a year and a half deep into a global pandemic and while many of us are getting back into the office, this doesn’t mean our lives are back to normal. Everyone is still dealing with an ever-changing world and no one is free from some form of instability right now. Employees might get sick unexpectedly, those who have children may have drastic changes to childcare, and you may not even know the extent of how much loss and grief your employees are dealing with right now. And these are just a few of the things that employees might have on their plates outside of work right now. Therefore, it’s time to lead with empathy and understanding of the chaotic world we are all navigating. Without empathy, you may have people running for the door. On the other hand, 2019 Businessolver State of Workplace Empathy Study showed that more than 90 percent of employees say they're more likely to stay with an empathetic employer.
5. Be flexible. Before the pandemic, working remotely started to become increasingly attractive to employees and now that many employees had no choice but to be remote, there may not be a way to come back from this. More than likely, your team members are going to need different things to be happy now. While you may have employees ready to be back in the office full-time, others are going to need a hybrid model, and others may be ready to stay working from home long term. Depending on your industry, you will need to make a judgement call on what kind of balance you can give to your employees but remain flexible and open-minded. According to Buffer’s The 2021 State of Remote Work, 97.6% responded that they would like to work remotely, at least some of the time, for the rest of their careers. Employers unwilling to make these accommodations are going to be less and less desirable. People want flexibility and in turn, are seeking that from their employers.
Not long ago, employees were told they shouldn’t leave a job for at least a year, but it seems more and more people are prioritizing happiness and other values, over this arbitrary rule. Considering Americans spend about a 1/3 of our life working, this makes sense!
“Money is not the only thing that motivates employees. It’s about making them happy.”
--Barbara Corcoran, American Businesswoman, founder of the The Corcoran Group, a real estate brokerage in New York City, and Shark investor on ABC’s Shark Tank.