Kimberly B. Lewis is the President and CEO of Goodwill Industries of East Texas and the owner of Motivational Muse, LLC. She has more than 20 years of executive level non-profit and business experience. She is an author, speaker, executive life coach, consultant and frequent contributor to Forbes Magazine as a member of the Forbes Nonprofit Council. She has authored three books: a historical novel entitled “The Fourth Generation,” “A Seat At The Table or A Part of The Meal”- Creating A Culture of Diversity Equity and Inclusion, and the most recent publication entitled “Biases” – A Guide for Uncovering Area of Unconscious Bias.”
The challenge to attract and retain talent has never been more difficult than it is today. The pandemic ushered in a long line of people resigning from their jobs in search of more flexibility, work-life balance, and control over their own destiny.
The Great Resignation, a term used to describe the throngs of people quitting their jobs in the last 18 months, nearly carries the same gravity as the phrase The Great Depression. The Great Depression was a global economic depression between 1929 and 1939 that began after a sharp decline in stock prices in the United States. This caused an economic ripple effect that shook the economies of the world.
The discussion in boardrooms around the world these days centers around why people are quitting, how to attract new talent and most of all, how to keep the people that are still working.
Case in point, a Microsoft survey of more than 30,000 workers worldwide showed that as many as 41% of workers were thinking about quitting their jobs or at least changing their professions.
The uncertainty of the future has caused people to have a sobering revelation about their s present jobs and their goals. Obviously many are seeking something different than what they have, or perhaps have ever known.
In the UK and Ireland, a study was conducted by Personio, an HR software company indicating that 38% of the workforce also planned to resign from their jobs within a year’s time. So this trend of the “Big Quit,” continues and is spreading globally.
According to the US Department of Labor, more than 4 million people quit their jobs in the month of April, the highest monthly surge to date.
So to answer the first question, “why are people quitting?” The Pew Research Center surveyed workers recently and found that low pay, a lack of opportunities for promotion and a feeling of disrespect at work are the main reasons why Americans quit their jobs in 2021.
The other prevailing issue is childcare. The pandemic closed many childcare facilities, reducing access to childcare providers.
Childcare is also costly in the US, so when you add low wages to the lack of access to affordable childcare, it computes to the fact that for many it’s more economical for at least one caregiver to remain at home with the children.
The next two questions at the table are how to attract new talent and keep current employees working. These questions are ones that companies have some control over. But, then again “control” is part of the problem.
Workers want to be valued, respected, paid an equitable wage, seen as individuals and not as digits on a spreadsheet, and they desperately want to BELONG.
This sense of belonging, goes far beyond having a diverse and inclusive workforce. The “belonging” is tribal. Workers spend approximately 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week at their jobs, with their co-workers. If there is a disconnect between them and their co-workers or supervisor, it can be a lonely and frustrating existence.
Belonging is when feel accepted, genuinely liked and appreciated by those around you. When a worker experiences these things, the worker has essentially found their tribe. To build or develop a sense of belonging, it is essential that company leaders relax their control. Utilize these tips to begin changing the culture of your business:
- Believe that all people enter the job with ”good intent.” They intend to do a good job and can be trusted to learn the job and do it well consistently.
- Trust teams to work out their struggles, and give them some tools to help them to understand each other’s perspective through training on biases and teamwork.
- Encourage “safe spaces” for workers to speak openly and respectfully.
- Don’t be afraid to show vulnerability. Speak about your failures and struggles and how you overcame them or how you’re still working on them.
- Finally, treat everyone equitably, not equally. This means that one employee may need the flexibility to work different hours to allow him to pick his children up from school and another may need work from home to care for an ailing parent.
To build trust, and rebuild the workforce, flexibility and new way of leading is required. Paying higher wages alone, will not cut it anymore. Creating a culture that fosters a community atmosphere and tears down silos, allows people to get to know each other. It ensures people that they won’t be penalized for actually showing that they care about their co-workers by getting rid of terms like “fraternization” or “chain of command” and related policies.
Leaders have to get back to showing human compassion. They have to get back to trusting people and in turn the workforce will trust them enough to return to work.