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The Great Resignation: 3 Things Companies are Getting Wrong

The Great Resignation: 3 Things Companies are Getting Wrong

The past two years have brought a lot of things to light when it comes to what employees really want—and need. The pandemic revealed that it’s not a transactional relationship based on bonuses, raises or rewards that employees crave. It’s a human relationship, with a sense of belonging, purpose, and rich connections to colleagues.

“If the past 18 months have taught us anything, it’s that employees crave investment in the human aspects of work,” write the experts at McKinsey

Indeed, after nearly two years of upheaval, uncertainty, pivoting, and grief, businesses are facing unprecedented numbers of workers quitting jobs. Below, we’ll explore three things organizations are still getting wrong, and how they can fix it. 

1. Not Understanding the Cause of the Great Resignation

Rather than take the time to understand the real reason everyone is quitting their jobs, employers are looking for quick fixes. At the same time, bonuses, pay raises, and other financial incentives are falling flat. 

“Rather than sensing appreciation, employees sense a transaction,” write the experts at McKinsey. “This transactional relationship reminds them that their real needs aren’t being met.”

Instead of throwing bonuses at workers, employers must examine where they’re losing people, down to the department, team and even the individual. Then, determine how these departures impact the business. This will help businesses identify where problems are and which groups are most in need of help for retention. More importantly, this will help leaders understand the most helpful actions to take. 

For instance, in many cases, women and mothers have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. One organization dealt with this issue by changing shift structure and creating more flexible schedules. 

2. Not Making Workers Feel Valued

Recognition is one of the most critical components of the employee experience. Companies that bake recognition into their cultures have 31% lower turnover. Yet, the unfortunate truth is that recognition has become just another box for managers to check. And it shows. 

One study from the Harvard Business Review showed a stark difference between how much managers recognized employees, and how recognized employees felt. This gulf can lead to shorter tenures and higher turnover. 

So how can companies fix this in the face of the Great Resignation? First of all, don’t put the onus fully on the managers to figure these things out. Managers are human, and are also responsible for balancing developmental feedback with recognition. Instead, equip managers with the tools they need to give feedback well. Additionally, make recognition a strategy (not an afterthought). Companies can do so with the help of organized, company-wide recognition tools and programs. 

3. Not Putting a Permanent Premium on Mental Health

recent survey showed that job stress had a bigger impact on mental health than COVID. The combination of the pandemic and long hours made a potent cocktail. One which led to mass resignation due to burnout. Employees are tired, many are grieving. Many have endured the added stress of caring for young children during a chaotic remote learning experience. Now that many workers have gotten a taste of work-life balance, few are going to be willing to go back to the harsh pre-pandemic grind.

Companies must take a sustainable, long-term approach to mental health if they want to keep their best people. Here are a few steps organizations can take. 

  • Provide more resources: EAP programs, wellness apps, and efforts to destigmatize mental illness can all have positive impacts on employee wellbeing. Additionally, training leaders, managers and employees on how to navigate mental health at work can create a more supportive environment. 
  • Establish accountability and ownership: Organizational leaders must step up and make mental health a priority. Not only that, these leaders need to be held accountable to whether or not what they’re doing is working. Pulse surveys and other feedback tools can help create and sustain momentum for impactful mental health initiatives. 
  • Focus on flexibility: Flexibility isn’t limited to remote work. Fostering flexibility can start with small steps. For instance, consider implementing no-meeting days, no email after hours, or focused work time. 
  • Emphasize connection: Loneliness is one of the biggest issues workers are facing in isolation and remote roles. In fact, 40% of workers feel isolated at work. Take steps to ensure they’re staying connected. This can include regular check-ins, team activities, or simply asking employees and colleagues, “How are you doing?” or “How can I support you?” if they seem to be struggling. 

Surviving the Great Resignation Starts with Listening

The Great Resignation: 3 Things Companies are Getting Wrong

If you lead a team or organization, it’s important to recognize that the Great Resignation is real. Not only that, it will continue, and it may even get worse before it gets better. 

In this new normal, the way forward isn’t to do things the way we’ve always done them. Instead, listen, ask questions, and consider your next moves carefully. “But don’t think through your next moves in a vacuum,” recommend the experts at McKinsey, “include your employees in the process. Look to them to help shape the plan and solutions.” 

One of the reasons things have gotten as bad as they have is simply because companies didn’t take the time to listen. They missed out on the human element of their human capital management strategies. And employees noticed.  

Learn more about how to help your organization survive and navigate the Great Resignation by contacting us below.



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