We may be in the midst of a workplace revolution: Job openings increased to 10.1 million (up 6.5%), and the quitting spree continues with 3.9 million workers calling it quits (an increase of nearly 3% from the month before), according to the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
If the success of companies lies in the engagement, productivity and satisfaction of the people who work there, companies may be losing their greatest resource in droves. How can companies reverse this trend that has been dubbed the Great Resignation? I spoke to a number of leaders to ask them what employees really want—and how companies can adapt to better retain their talent.
Reimagine The Rules Of Work
“We're almost, dare I say, grieving the way that we've done business before. [During the pandemic] executives, policy makers, and HR representatives are having to reimagine what efficiency looks like, what processes look like and how to include emotional intelligence and empathy into those processes. We've heard time and time again that this new generation doesn't want to work. That’s not the truth. The new generation is redefining the way in which they do work. It’s about using technology to leverage those things while still having a high level of emotional intelligence at the core of those policies and practices. We have to be mindful and intentional about the grieving process of what was, and then reimagine what is now and what will be in the future.”
~Julius Boatwright, founder of Steel Smiling
When You Feel Seen, You Give More
“If we started valuing workers as humans more—the human experience and the emotions that come with it—we'll have higher retention rates. We’ll have people who are more engaged and that benefits the bottom line. The productivity is always going to be there when the person is valued more than a product or output, because people are going to feel seen and empowered. It’s a sense of reciprocity: If you see me, you make me feel good. I want you to see more of me. In order to do that, I'm going to give more to you. When employers are focused solely on outcomes rather than people, they lose folks, revenue and reputation.”
~Dr. LaNail R. Plummer, CEO of Onyx Therapy Group
Create Space To Lead By Example
“Leaders can't ask their employees to do things that they're not willing to do themselves. Leaders have to be willing to ask ourselves uncomfortable questions, such as ‘What am I feeling? What am I experiencing? What are my pain points?’ It’s a leader’s responsibility to create spaces that are psychologically safe, where people can trust that what they share isn't going to come back and bite them in the butt. That requires leaders to be willing to do their own inner work to understand what's going on with themselves, so that they can hold space for others.”
~Tosca DiMatteo, founder of TOSCA Coaching & Consulting
Support Employees’ Lives Outside Of Work
“You're not going to want to go back to a workplace that didn't see you, listen to you or support you. We can talk about the U.S. policies on caregiving and beyond, but as an employer, as someone who has the ability and the power to listen to your workers, to create change, and to create a system that works better for them, I implore you to do it now. Show them that you care about their whole identity—not just who they are as an employee, but as human with many hats and many responsibilities.”
~Kristy Wallace, CEO of the Ellevate Network
Invest In Rest
“We need to start mandating play, rest and pleasure. During the work day, our company actually mandates our folks get at least an hour of self-care. I literally want to go on your calendar and see you when your weekly self-care hour is. That is a signal to me and everybody else on the team not to bother this particular staff person during this hour, because you wouldn't call them if you saw they were in a meeting with an investor during this time. This meeting with themselves is probably the most meaningful meeting of all. We budget for technology, for staff, and for other items that are necessary for the success of our organizations. Managers, program directors, and executive level C-suite folks have to become more intentional about allocating money in our budget to pour into our people for rest and play. That is part of the bottom line and something we can connect to revenue generation in terms of retention and employee satisfaction.”
Organizations Can Lead The Change
“It's not just on the employee to make this shift. Organizations have to want to make the shift. The Great Resignation is causing a lot of CEOs to question, ‘Why am I losing all of my people?’ We're finally getting the attention of the CEOs to look at emotional intelligence, at humanity, at who workers are in terms of their needs, values and experiences rather than only their skill sets. We are not robots out here. That’s why I believe that some of these resignations are about setting boundaries. Workers are saying, ‘Hey, pay attention to me. Okay, you don't want to pay attention to me? I'm going to leave.’ If enough people quit, we're going to get the attention from the top to be able to have these conversations that can create real transformation in the workplace.”
~Dr. LaNail R. Plummer
Article originally published in Forbes.