It should come as no surprise that the workplace revolution – what many are calling The Great Resignation or The Big Quit- will continue in 2022, although it’s expected to taper off in the fourth quarter. In March 2021, Microsoft published its Work Trend Index, highlighting findings from a study of more than 30,000 people. It found that more than 40% of the global workforce was considering leaving their jobs in 2021. A year later, it’s expected that employee turnover will remain high, providing companies with an opportunity to reevaluate their culture, one of the most important factors in attracting and retaining talent.
As CEO of a management (Un)consultancy, my team guides companies through organizational change and transformation through the process, people, and technology. We’re often called in to look at breaking down communication silos and improving operational effectiveness and efficiency. Now, more than ever, we’re examining culture more closely as a fundamental factor that crosses into all of the work we do, as it is a key indicator in employee loyalty and drive, both of which tie to the bottom line.
In my conversations with job candidates, cultural alignment is a common theme as I often hear, “I’m looking to join a company that respects me and is in alignment with my values as well as my needs for more life balance.” There’s no question that employees currently hold the reins. COVID-19 showed us that people can work for employers anywhere in the world which provides them with leverage to be selective.
It’s expected that the post-COVID hiring recovery will continue to be chaotic in 2022. There will be intense hiring demand, serious competition for talent, and an overhaul of the employee experience to meet candidate expectations. Workers have been boldly telling us what makes a company appealing. It’s now up to employers to listen and deliver upon those needs in a more tuned-in workplace.
That is why I believe that the Golden Rule (“Do unto others as they would do unto you”) no longer applies to today’s workplace culture. It’s time for employers to treat workers the way they want to be treated by listening to and responding to what makes them engaged and satisfied. Treating someone how they want to be treated – vs. how you would want to be treated – is known as the Platinum Rule.
Unfortunately, many companies have not kept pace with changes to the traditional 20th-century management model. It’s no longer that employees should be grateful to have a job; it’s just the opposite. They now have the ability to pick and choose exactly where they want to be based on what they love to do. For employers to win, they need to treat their workers with an attitude of “We are fortunate that you chose to work at our company. How can we make your experience satisfying? How can we assist you in carving out an exciting career path?”
The days of traditional command and control management are becoming obsolete. Instead, we’re seeing an increase in leaders with trained expertise in intentional listening and meeting employees where they are. This includes a more personalized employee benefits package that is more bespoke and suited to an individuals’ needs versus the “one size fits all” package of the past.
Companies that have prominent values and a strong culture are positioning themselves well.
Communication transparency is critical so that people feel safe expressing themselves and sharing ideas. Management should be modeling the right kind of behaviors – showing respect and integrity, being transparent, and giving regular, constructive feedback.
Although our work is serious, we make it a regular habit of adding fun activities where people can get to know each other better and enjoy themselves. This includes company dinners, virtual coffee breaks, and creative ice breakers to open meetings.
With the space the pandemic provided to think about work culture, people saw a lack of respect for their personal time. COVID provided a unique opportunity to see that traditional 9–5 jobs are no longer the American dream. Work is no longer just a means of survival but something that is directly connected to personal fulfillment, the reason why 78% of millennials are trading prestigious jobs and perks for more flexibility and time off.
It also revealed a need for employers to trust their workers to get their work done without being managed 24/7. Without retribution, people want to be able to manage their personal lives and be able to take a sick child to the doctor, be on site for a school play, or care for an elderly parent if needed.
Opportunities to Learn and Grow
When companies show they care about their teams by offering opportunities to shape their roles, it shows they believe in their future growth. Investing resources in onboarding initiatives will go a long way in securing trust and loyalty when the content is not rote, but interactive, engaging, and intellectually stimulating.
The side benefit of a happy, fulfilled workforce is that they will share their good feelings with their peers, friends, and family. Activating your employee base with positive messages to share with the world is the best kind of ambassadorship. How will your organization rise to the occasion?
About the author
Meg Newhouse is the CEO and Co-Founder of Inspirant Group, the disruptive management consulting firm and home of the Unconsultants who guide clients from inspiration to transformation. Based in Chicago, Inspirant Group was honored with two 2022 Built-In awards including Best Remote-First Places to Work in the US and 22 Startups to Watch in Chicago.