But the solution for both isn’t that elusive or far away. If leaders of those affected companies changed their approach and focused more on the employee experience, they likely would see The Great Retention instead.
A survey of U.S. workers and employers identified significant gaps between how employers think things are going at their company and how employees see things. In sum, most businesses surveyed thought employees were satisfied or well supported in the major areas —compensation, training, mental health, and job empowerment. But most polled workers disagreed, and 1 in 3 would quit their current jobs without a backup plan.
The good news for employers is that those trends could be reversible. The survey found 69 percent of the employees polled would consider staying if things with their current employer changed for the better. That change can happen if company leaders see the need to engage their employees better—acknowledging how that dynamic is directly related to production and retention—and follow through with consistent actions.
Meeting Employees’ Needs
The bottom line is this: If you do not provide a good employee experience, you cannot retain or compete for the best talent. Unfortunately, too many leaders are out of touch with their employees’ needs. They can change that by addressing these points:
1. See and treat your company as a community.
Leaders should start with this mindset: You’re not just building a company; you’re building a community that is about relationships, trust, and shared values. Just as every company is unique, so are the communities they develop.
Leaders have the responsibility to make sure communities work for members. Today, workplace communities are off the charts with change. Workspace is radically different now than it was pre-pandemic. Technology and working from home have redesigned our idea of what an office is. Remote and hybrid employees bring their coworkers into their homes, and now homes, families, and pets are part of the work community.
Navigating this shift can be overwhelming for everyone. At this moment, more than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, some people are still scared, stressed, and exhausted. They want to be listened to, they want to be treated as the individuals they are, they want to be treated as a valuable asset to the company, and they want to be safe.
So put your people first. Model the behavior you want to see. Show genuine interest and care. It is up to leaders to create a community out of various employee experiences—and their struggles provide an opportunity to lean on HR. HR understands how to build listening, fairness, inclusivity, and flexibility and can be a great resource for leaders.
Employers need to get on board with flexibility because it is here to stay. Part of building your community will be defining flexibility with a discussion around fairness. Let your employees develop personal solutions versus getting stuck in the old command-and-control model, where management makes all the decisions.
2. Communicate and celebrate.
Today, if you want to attract and retain top talent, you must treat your employees with respect and empathy and communicate way more than you think is necessary.
The old company-running model, with top-down management and little flexibility or humanity, has created unprecedented stress, fear, and lack of trust in the modern workplace. Leaders who do not communicate openly, clearly, and regularly about what they expect and why need to step right out of that selfish mindset where everything is about the company’s or owner’s wants, needs, or pocketbook. They might have gotten away with that in the past, but thankfully, that form of leadership is no longer acceptable.
You need to reward and celebrate employee achievements as part of your communication and performance programs. Lack of recognition is the #1 reason people quit—and recognizing people is such an easy, fun thing to do.
The key pillars for any community are simple.
- Communicate and listen. Communication of any sort is greatly appreciated by employees and is a meaningful way to show you are listening and you care. It is crucial to embrace technology to facilitate your community connections.
- Have an open house or fireside chat to welcome your people into your home and connect on a deeper level. YouTube is one of the biggest social media channels, and it is being underused in building community within companies.
- Create a collection of silly videos for those times your people need a mental break. Look for ways to be creative and flexible using Instagram, Facebook, and snail mail to communicate.
- Remember that community is a mutual concept and experience. Ask your people what they want their community to look like, and they will tell you. Your employees are experiencing you, but are you being purposeful about what they experience? It is a subtle shift in thinking for leadership and how you engage with employees and vice versa. It could make all the difference in the world in your ability to retain your best employees.