"It's not personal, it's just business." That's the maxim made famous in the movie, The Godfather.
Well the reality is, business is very much personal and is based on feelings. Because if the business isn't focused on feelings, you're basically failing.
Organizations who attempt to dismiss the feelings of their employees are in store for a rude awakening. We are in the middle of a competitive job market and there is a phenomenon called the great resignation where all employers are on notice.
There are many factors driving the great resignation such as a red hot job market, lack of personal connection to current employers, higher pay, better opportunities and the perception that the grass is greener elsewhere.
If organizations want to have a fighting chance at retaining their talent, they need to truly prioritize feelings. To comprehend how people are feeling requires using every possible instrument to understand their experiences.
There are a few ways that organizations can meet the moment:
1. Community First
Using old ways won't solve the new challenges. In response to COVID-19, many companies have adopted a hybrid approach (in-office, remote and in-between) to meet employees where they are for work location preference. It's important to treat each persona as its own community. In the past, HR could operate with a singular playbook in dealing with in-office staff because remote staff were the rarity, COVID-19 and the introduction of hybrid workforce models has changed all that.
Companies need to consider creating a head of remote workforce to ensure that the remote community has a comparable experience to those who go into the office. I can recall in pre-pandemic times, where there would be an in-office meeting and one teammate would join via Zoom and the Zoom attendee would be an afterthought versus the people in the room, culminating in an inequitable experience. If you want to keep attrition at bay and provide an equitable experience for your talent, someone has to be in charge of engaging with and tending to the remote community.
2. Values, Mission and Experience Congruence
Significant emotional investment can come from aligned values, mission and experience -- otherwise known as cultural anchors. Basically, anchors are a mix of traditions and experiences beloved by employees that help keep talent connected to a given organization.
The company values and mission need to align with the overarching employee experience. If either are out of sync, talent will leave for companies that are congruent in both words and deeds. Leaders should re-evaluate the values and the mission to see if they still resonate with staff and potential talent. If not, refresh the values to make them more resonant.
3. Data by Persona
Data is your friend and it's important to understand how each community is doing relative to the overall employee experience. If you see lower Net Promoter Score (NPS) for remote staff, you know intervening actions need to be done. Understand your hiring outcomes and keep tabs on many people who are remote, understand their onboarding experience, track whether they are getting promoted at a similar rate to the other communities. There are two goals here: (1) parity of experience and (2) continual adjustment because if one group's experience is dramatically different from the total employee base, that merits investigation.
4. More EQ, Less IQ
For too long IQ has been the more heralded leadership attribute while EQ was relegated to a 'nice to have' skill. I'd say that EQ now outranks IQ as people are finally acknowledging that EQ is truly an important leadership capability. EQ is the ability to sense emotion in yourself and in other people. As a leader, relying solely on IQ to solve complex feelings is likely a flawed strategy resulting in the missing of key elements. Focus on feelings, the experience through the lens of EQ.
One of my favorite quotes by Maya Angelou is, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Focus on the feelings, your employees and your business will be better for it.