You may or may not have heard of the term ‘The Great Resignation’, but if you are a leader, you are without question experiencing the symptoms and after shocks of it. Have you visited a restaurant, dry cleaner or almost any retail environment and asked: Where did all the employees go?
A recent Willis Towers Watson’s 2022 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey indicated “a majority of U.S. employees (53%) are open to leaving their employers. In fact, 44% of employees said they actively looked for a new job during the fourth quarter of 2021 or were planning to seek new employment during the first quarter of 2022.”
Assume half your employees are looking for a new job. Based on this research you should assume that 1/2 of your team is currently either actively seeking another role or at least entertaining offers as they come along. That research mirrors conversations that we are having with clients as they seek to retain their employees in an environment of low unemployment and rising wages. That is not to say that half your team will leave. It just means that a much larger proportion of your team is ‘at risk’ than we have normally seen.
Why are employees considering a new job?
When considering how to retain your team members you can never overlook pay – especially in a tight labor market and when employees are experiencing high inflation.
Having said that, wages are usually not the reason why employees start looking for a new job – they are however the first reason that employees will give for leaving your employment and moving to a new job.
To uncover the reasons why employees may start considering a move we need to delve a little deeper into the seismic shifts that the pandemic has caused (or at least accelerated) in the employee population.
To understand how much the pandemic changed our attitudes toward work we need to consider exactly what happened in the last two years:
Many employees were sent home to work for the first time.
Employees feel they are just as productive (or more so) at home.
People were forced to evaluate their priorities around what they want from work and life.
Employees got used to less commuting time and more time with family.
Many people for the first time started to ask: What do I want from work? What am I willing to do/give up?
Even if your team did not go home for an extended period of time, they will still be considering these questions as they have become part of the ‘conversation’ that we are exposed to daily.
The great news is that there is a massive opportunity here if you are able to create an environment that addresses the challenges that employees are experiencing – rather than telling them that they should not be experiencing those challenges in the first place.
The Solution: Create work that matters in a culture that is magnetic.
More than ever employees want to part of something that matters. While employees will often point to wages as the reason they are leaving a company, our experience has been that even a significant wage gap can be overcome if the employee has fallen in love with the culture. That’s weird to say isn’t it? And even if it is true, how can you do that within a larger company? Isn’t that the top leader’s job? The simple answer is: NO. While it is ideal for the the top leadership in a company to spearhead this initiative, it is not necessary for you to be able to do this with your team.
Here is a simple three step process that will help you identify a vision and culture that would be magnetic to your team:
THINK in terms of a three year time period. This is long enough to set some aggressive goals but not so long that you have time to waste.
ASK: What is true in your industry or department that people wish was not so? (Note: make sure that the items you consider are within your influence to change, even if you are not sure exactly how to do it.)
ASK: Would movement toward this vision make everyone’s life more enjoyable?
While it may seem that the issues you face cannot be addressed by a process as simple as this, I can assure you that they are not. In today’s world people are searching for meaning. This can often come across as them being self-centered, and in a way they certainly are. However, as long as your people feel that they are not important beyond the productivity they provide, they will see their job as primarily an exchange of time for money. So when another employer offers more money for the same time – they will jump at that opportunity.
The only insurance against your team leaving for more money is to create a culture that they cannot replace. And that is totally within your power.
For more information on how to create a culture that is magnetic to the type of employees you wish to attract and retain, join us on Tuesday, May 17th at 2 PM for our complimentary webinar The 7 Deadly Sins of Leadership (& How to Avoid Them). Click here to register now…