Updated: Sep 23
The flurry of work resignations remains one of the top concerns for organizations worldwide, and this phenomenon shows no sign of slowing down. Are we facing a revolt against work? What can leaders do to attract and retain top talent today and gain a competitive edge?
Here’s the striking paradox companies are facing today: Even with a dark outlook for the global economy, and an increasing risk of recession in the next 12 months (1), leaders around the globe keep getting up in the morning to receive another resignation letter from their employees.
Yes, although one might think that a world economic crisis on the horizon would make employees think twice before moving jobs, to avoid facing "last in, first out", The Great Resignation phenomenon surprisingly keeps growing and employees seem to be determined to shake up the status quo in the workplace.
- Over 52 million resignations have taken place in the US since April 2021, and numbers keep growing as 4.2 million employees called it quits in June 2022(2). - The UK faced around 354,000 job resignations during the first quarter of 2022, becoming the highest number of resignations taking place in a single quarter.(3) - A quarter of Canadians changed jobs during The Great Resignation and 88% consider leaving their jobs in the next 6 months.(4) - Almost half of Irish workers plan to quit in the near future(5) and half of Irish Gen Z employees plan to do so within two years(6).
A Revolt Against Work?
It seems that while organizations grapple with low retention rates through traditional incentives like increase in pay, and staying bonuses to engage their employees, the question “How to write a resignation letter” keeps being one of the top FAQs searched on Google.
Yes. Companies are facing an offbeat crisis that is putting the world of work upside down. Mind you, this doesn’t simply come down to the number of people quitting everyday. Many employees who have decided to keep their jobs actively manifest their disengagement and unhappiness at the workplace through a drop in their performance. This means that organizations are not only coping with The Great Resignation; they are also experiencing one of the sharpest slowdowns in productivity and profit growth.
One thing we know for sure, this is not a temporary state of affairs. This is a tectonic shift led by millions of employees sending a message that leaders must listen to. If they don’t, other than leading their company into the future, they will be dragging it down earlier than expected.
Everything Leaders Should Know About their Employees * But Are Afraid to Ask
-70% of employees define their sense of purpose by their work. -More than half of employees prioritize workplace culture over salary. -29% haven’t received recognition for their work in over a year, if ever. -Employees who are recognized are almost six times more likely to stay at their jobs than those who aren’t. -80% of employees would improve their performance if they felt valued at work. -37% of employees report that the best way to improve their engagement is for their superiors to give them recognition. -70% of employed Americans are disengaged. Sources:(8)(9)(10)(11)
First of all, let’s get this straight. The Great Resignation is not related to money. In fact, while 89% of leaders believe that their employees quit for a better salary, only 12% of workers state they leave for that reason. So trying to prevent thousands of daily resignations with money would be like patching a leaky bucket with tape… It’s anything but a long-term solution.
So what are employees looking for? What do they need and demand from employers?
I believe that since the beginning of the pandemic we have responded to what psychologists call the Terror Management Theory, which holds that when confronted with the finitude of life or serious illness, we develop more meaningful world-views and become more reflective about how much fulfilment and happiness exists in our own life, and this includes our job.
Amidst the pandemic and the abrupt migration to remote work, most of us had to cope with either burnout, loneliness, depression, or death. Coming out of the pandemic, rather than arrange our wholes lives around work, we feel we need to work around our own lives. This implies making choices that truly bring us joy and allow us to feel enduring self-worth, especially at work.
The stats make it clear, employees are demanding something different. Something more. They need to know that getting out of bed in the morning and dedicating a disproportionate amount of their day to the mission and vision of your company is really worth it. They want real engagement no matter where they actually do their work. They want a healthy culture that recognizes their day-to-day contributions and makes them valued for who they are and what they do.
Coming out of the pandemic, rather than arrange our wholes lives around work, we feel we need to work around our own lives.
How can leaders turn The Great Resignation into The Great Attraction?
The answer lies in one word, "Culture". The only possible way to gain a competitive edge in today’s world is to build a human-centric culture, aligned with the values and needs of employees. Yes, in the short and long run it is culture that will make the difference between being a company people want to leave, and a company where people want to stay and build a life.
If you’re a leader truly committed to driving a cultural change that will attract and retain top talent, you might want to consider these tips:
Plan an actionable culture strategy. Don’t take the easy road to let culture develop organically, on its own, without strategically thinking about the behaviours or attitudes you want to promote in your company. As Peter Drucker said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”, so if you want to create a place people really want to work, get a baseline and start by designing a plan that is unique to your own organization's DNA.
Co-create culture with your employees. Build community. Corporate culture is not a stagnant, self-contained phenomenon that is given or transmitted to employees. It’s ever-changing and as a leader you have a key role in shaping it and cultivating it with them every single day. It’s teamwork, and employees should be given a protagonist role in this process.
Don’t wait for major accomplishments to recognize people. Many leaders mistakenly overlook the power of giving great value to little things. Building a culture of recognition where you encourage kindness and gratitude for every contribution, no matter how big or small, will help you retain top talent and increase employee engagement. Remember: little things go a long way.
Bring people together, no matter where they actually do their work. Full-time remote work increased loneliness by 67% (12), and people long for the possibility to connect with colleagues. Culture springs from authentic human connections, so make sure you build one where human relationships are cultivated everyday, anytime, anywhere.
Make employees’ accomplishments visible. Visibility is a powerful tool to make employees see that their company values are part of everyone’s DNA. If you want to retain your talent, shedding light on them for their day-to-day contributions, will engender a stronger sense of security and belonging, motivating everyone to continue great work.
Drive initiatives that promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Celebrating unique backgrounds and the individuality of employees is key to building an inclusive organization. The more people feel they belong, the more engaged and committed to your company they will feel.
Promote ongoing and constructive feedback. Feedback is a vital element in any organization, and yet it seems to be the missing piece of the employee retention puzzle. Continuous feedback will help you cultivate a learning and supportive culture where employees feel cared for and motivated to increase their performance.
Make sure you count with the right technology to build culture. With a distributed workforce and the need to transcend physical distances, digital platforms that help organizations build culture have become a must-have other than a nice-to-have. Actually, they should become part of your culture plan. There are different platforms out there such as StarMeUp, CultureAmp, or Workhuman, among others, but you should carry out thorough research to find the one that matches the type of culture you want to build.
Finally, I’d like to say this article is not intended to give any magic recipe, but to encourage leaders to reflect upon the fact that the world of work is no longer the same, and that employees' needs and demands cannot be put off anymore.
Being a company leader today can be really tough, and it’s really challenging to find the right culture strategy to attract and retain talent, in times of crisis and rapid change. However, if you want to land on safe ground and gain a competitive edge, trust me on this:
When you genuinely show you care about your people, they will make a difference in your business.
The only possible way to gain a competitive edge in today’s world is to build a human-centric culture, aligned with the values and needs of employees.
About Author - Griselda Savoy | Freelance Content Writer | Digital Marketing Expert
Griselda is a freelance Content writer and Digital marketing expert, that loves writing and humour. She is of the view that both of them bring people together, and have the power to transform how we think about the world and ourselves.
She is passionate about digital marketing, which is why she helps companies make their brand’s identity stand out with the right style and inclusive voice.
A casual empathic tone and a pinch of humour is a great part of her writing style. If you want to work with her, contact her on Linkedin.