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We already know the pandemic caused the Great Resignation. In 2021 alone, one in four professionals quit their jobs; an even greater number – 65 percent – considered quitting before deciding to stay at their companies, at least for now.
What have the pandemic-era resignations been so high? Workers are quitting not because of the pandemic, but rather because of what they realized about “business as usual” during the pandemic. Some felt they were working too many hours, while others believed their commutes took up too much time. Still others want more flexibility, more pay, or more “happiness,” said NPR’s Andrea Hsu.
Leaders are undoubtedly responding to the vacancies they need to fill after employees quit. Scarcity is the word of the day, as organizations strategize ways to fill empty jobs.
But this focus on hiring leaves out a significant population: employees who haven’t quit. If you’re constantly prioritizing potential hires, then your current team will feel undervalued – one of the significant reasons why employees quit in the first place. Too much focus on vacancies may eventually create more of them.
What your employees need after years of uncertainty and picking up the slack left by resigned colleagues is validation and recognition.
“Think about what these people — the ones who are here, working for and with you — need now. The short answer is they need to be seen for who they are and what they are contributing. It’s your job as the leader to make sure they’re getting the recognition they deserve,” said consultants Debbie Cohen and Kate Roeske-Zummer for Harvard Business Review.
Here, we’ll talk about how to make your employees feel like essential members of your team.
Take opportunities to recognize your employees for their efforts.
One of the core reasons that professionals seek new positions is because they feel undervalued in their current workplaces. Maybe they created a novel new program but haven’t received managerial support for it. Or perhaps they have taken on new responsibilities, but their bosses are too overloaded to give them credit for their efforts.
“When you don’t recognize your good employees, you’re not only failing to motivate them. You’re also missing out on the most effective approach to reinforce good work. Even if you don’t have the budget for raises or bonuses, there are plenty of low-cost methods to show appreciation, including a simple word of thanks. People won’t care about their work if they don’t feel noticed,” said Digital Strategist Jason McMahon.
Key here is letting them know they are making a difference – and that you recognize their hard work. Your team members should always know that you see their contributions as meaningful and significant.
Discuss what they appreciate about their positions – and what they would change if they could.
One of the ways to keep your team happy is behaving as if you are recruiting them. In a sense, this may be true, as some of them may be keeping their eyes on the job listings.
So, connect with your team to discover key concerns that keep them from performing effectively.
“Employees may want to quit because they feel unsupported. They might take on more work than others on their team, not have the proper tools to complete tasks effectively or feel like management doesn’t care about their well-being,” said Kylie Ora Lobell for SHRM.
Others may have ambitions that aren’t being realized. As necessary, you can connect them with other opportunities at your company, or let them develop projects that match their interests.
What’s more, you should schedule these meetings with your team regularly. Managers need to regularly check in with their employees about what’s working for them and what isn’t; without a relationship like this one, you may discover that more than one team member has one foot out the door.
Ensure your team understands your mission.
Aside from flexibility and better pay, professionals sought different employment at companies that matched their personal missions. If you can’t rally your team around why your work matters – an especially daunting task if you are distracted by filling vacancies quickly – then you might discover they are looking elsewhere for a more fulfilling role.
“There’s a reason your company exists that’s bigger than what most may see on the outside, but are you talking about that reason? It doesn’t have to be a ‘save the world’ message, but maybe it’s about the lives of the customers you serve, or the connection between what you do and something else,” career coach Darcy Eikenberg noted.
Lessening the Impact of the Great Resignation
Company leadership is reeling from the number of resignations over the last few years. Though hiring key personnel to fill vacancies is crucial, that is only part of the puzzle.
Companies also need to assess what made team members quit; were they driven away by a lack of flexibility, an undefined corporate mission, or an untenable work-life balance? What’s more, you want to make time to demonstrate to your current employees that you value them, and if they have complaints, that you will do what you can to improve their satisfaction.
Certainly, filling vacancies might feel like your only priority right now, but if you ignore your current team for too long, you will accrue more and more open positions.
Why Should Leaders Care About Engaging Employees?