The pandemic is forcing workers to reevaluate the way they look at work. Employers should do the same if they want to stay competitive.
Last May, Texas A&M Professor Anthony Klotz predicted that pandemic related resignations would grow, saying “the Great Resignation is coming”.
He was right.
It started in April 2021, when a record 3.8 million people quit their jobs in that month alone. Surprisingly, that trend continued – around 4 million workers quit their jobs each month between April and November, with a whopping 4.53 million quitting by the end of November.
This massive quitting spree, which some people are rebranding as the “Great Reimagination”, signals that people are starting to think differently about their relationship with work.
In the months (and likely, years) to come, companies that prioritize workers’ needs will be best equipped to recruit and retain talent. They will earn a distinct competitive advantage in the marketplace.
These three strategies should help your business and teams.
Flexible work should be the norm, not the exception
When planning for incentives, going for cash won’t always work. Whether you’re recruiting new talent or trying to support your current team, the best incentives are those that increase flexibility and put some time back in their day.
Having a flexible work schedule has become the most desirable work benefit in the last year: workers value the flexibility to work from home 2-3 days a week as much as an 11% pay raise. Gone are the days of the 9-to-5 workday. Parents of young children, for example, should have the (guilt-free!) flexibility to do school pick-up two hours before the official yet arbitrary close-of-business at 5pm.
And it doesn’t just stop there. If you allow WFH and flood workers’ calendars with meetings, even the casual, pajama attire of WFH style will become tiresome. Consider enacting a policy that only allows company meetings to be scheduled during certain blocks of time during the workday, allowing for people to have control over the rest of their day.
Offer resources to support workers’ mental health
Mental health resources are no longer a company perk, but a must-have resource for employees. Providing mental health resources shows your employees that you value them and have sympathy for the things they might be experiencing outside of work.
In 2021, employees with access to mental health benefits reported that they’re more likely to stay at their current position than if they didn’t. On the other hand, those without mental health benefits don’t feel supported by their employers.
Listen, listen, listen … then listen some more
Every workforce is different, so following another’s strategy won’t work. It will be impossible to understand what your employees want without really listening to them.
My team at Apex lives and breathes this ‘listening’ principle in product design. Our analytics tools for tracking employee engagement, for example, helps to reveal employees’ emotions for what they need from their organization and leaders to feel fulfilled in their work.
The answer isn’t to send out a survey that encourages answers that your executive team will want to hear. Employees will see right through this, especially if they’re already feeling disengaged or strained at work.
Whenever possible, schedule 1:1 conversations to understand what your employees are feeling, ask questions earnestly, and listen intently. If you take the time to understand and empathize with their circumstances, they will notice your intentions to support them.
Finally, craft solutions with your employees, instead of assuming what change they might be looking for. If you involve them from the start, employees will feel that they are valued and wanted, and likely feel happier at work because of it.
This post is written by Nick Hobson.