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Creating Places Where People Want To Work

by David Brock on August 31st, 2021

A new word/concept is creeping into my vocabulary, “The Great Resignation.” I have to confess, I’m not seeing much of this in my clients–at least yet. Some are beginning to talk about it. Many friends and colleagues seem to be seeing indications of the great resignation.

The headlines focus on exhaustion and burnout, much driven by the hybrid work environment, WFH and other factors.

The pandemic may have been a forcing function accelerating the great resignation, but we’ve seen signs of it for perhaps the last decade. So we shouldn’t be surprised. And we created it!

Survey after survey, for years has shown declining employee engagement. As far back as 2013, only 24% of executives believed their employees were highly engaged. Fast forward to today, 85% of employees are not engaged, 81% are looking to leave their jobs. Other research shows the adverse financial impact of poor employee engagement. In companies with high engagement profitability is much higher. Low company engagement has an adverse impact on revenues, across the US, more than $550B in lost revenue.

And we’ve long known that employee engagement is a leading indicator to customer satisfaction and engagement.

In sales, we see indications of employee disengagement with plummeting average tenures, somewhere around 12-16 months for both sales people and managers.

We’ve seen this coming for years! It’s not a result of work from home, it’s not a result of a changing workforce, it’s not a result of the changing nature of work—-though all of those contribute to it.

For years, too many have failed to create places where people want to work. We’ve substituted “cosmetic devices” to create an aura of a great workplace, whether it’s pay/comp, food, fitness centers, Friday afternoon beer busts; these don’t create meaning for people. Plus, when everyone else is doing the same, pretty soon it’s not a differentiator.

Work is changing, how work gets done is changing, the workforce is changing, but some things remain constant.

People are looking for meaning in their lives and work.

People want to be heard, they want to know their points of view are valued.

People to know they are valued, not just commodities that can be replaced by someone else.

People want to learn, develop, and grow.

People want to trust their managers and leaders, in turn they want to be trusted.

People want to be successful, not just this year, but over their career. And they want to be part of an organization that is successful.

People want to know their leaders and managers care. They are looking for coaching, mentoring, and development.

People want to be recognized, and not just financially.

These all point to some common elements, all critical to organizational and individual success: purpose, culture, values, leadership.

Work is changing—-it always has.

But there are some common elements that persist.

The great resignation is not inevitable, it is the result of lack of attention/caring by executives. And they will, inevitably see this in the results.

We need to focus on how we create work and workplaces that engage the people we want to be part of it.

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