The past year or so has caused a great deal of introspection between increased isolation and the constant reminder of death's ever-looming presence. In return, it has driven millions of people to a single epiphany: they want more meaningful work as a way to have more meaning in their lives. When faced with the reality of our own mortality, it's no longer enough to work for a paycheck and live for the weekend. 

As fatigue increases and purposes decreases, many are left tendering their resignation. So much so, we now know it as the 'Great Resignation,' though perhaps better put--the 'Great Reshuffle.' In fact, the roots of the Great Resignation date back a decade, and yet despite such time, there's still one thing no one is doing that will keep staff sticking around for years--even decades to come. 

It's so radically counterintuitive that it sounds downright stupid: work more. 

Now you might be thinking the too good to be true concept is simply insane, but let me explain why it works. In doing so, you can understand how to make it work for your business.

All Employees Provide Value--But Not All See Their Purpose 

I'll say it again: The most effective strategy to retain staff is getting them to work more. But, more specifically, work more closely to the company's stakeholders. In doing so, staff will get closer to the customers and clients that their employer impacts. In return, they will not only see the value of their role in relation to others but see that they do in fact have a purpose. And as unrealistic as it might sound to get staff who want to quit to work more, it's surprisingly simple.

To help paint a picture, here are a few examples of how its done across different industries: 

  • The marketing agency that mentors new founders through their state's SBA. 

  • The mattress brand that gives returned products to those in need. 

  • The fintech startup that offers a free personal course at their local community center. 

In fact, according to the director of the Great Good Science Center at UC Berkley, Dr. Simon-Thomas, purpose is one of the four keys to happiness at work, and the best way to find purpose is through work that shows staff the impact their role has on others. And not surprisingly, the connection between increased happiness and volunteer work has been widely studied, all with the same conclusion: volunteering makes us happy. So much so it has been proven to increase dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain, and even make you live longer.

But the problem is that most people are already don't have enough hours in the day, so volunteer work is largely unrealistic. But purpose doesn't have to be derived from altruistic endeavors. Purpose can be found within our work and the value it provides. Yet, people are more disconnected that ever at work.

Division of Labor Disconnects the World 

In pursuit of expertise, roles have become increasingly focused, and with that isolated. With more separation and isolation, it's easy for staff to become disconnected from the why behind what they do, and those who they impact. And with that, they are easily less satisfied. 

For example, there was a time when the chef once served patrons their food. As restaurants grew, waitstaff became a necessity as chefs became too busy in the kitchen. But chefs were still not hidden behind closed doors but cooking in front of patrons. Now, with continued growth, cooks are often tucked away to the point that many restaurants are designed so that there's even a separation between kitchen staff and waitstaff. 

Now, instead of a chef interacting with customers and hearing their largely positive feedback, chefs now largely only hear from servers when a customer has a problem with the food. Not surprisingly, this would lead to far less job satisfaction. 

Bringing Your Employees Closer to Their 'Why'

Every business is offering customers something--it wouldn't be in business otherwise. Employers can--and should--set the stage to better help staff connect with customers and see the impact of what they do. Because companies looking to retain staff during the Great Resignation need to give employees what they're seeking: purpose. Not simply more money or benefits, but purpose, which increases workplace satisfaction and overall happiness. 

It's not just a win-win because it will help you decrease turnover. But because as your staff get more connected to your customers to the "why" behind what they do, your customers will get more connected to your business and the "why" behind what it does.