Expect the Great Resignation to continue gaining momentum in 2022, as more employees express discontent to remain in jobs that don't align with their values and career goals.
This is forcing many business leaders to reevaluate their workplace culture to understand what their employees truly want in order to boost retention. Welcome to the employee economy.
Still, managers calling the shots in stifling, top-down power structures have not adapted. A good starting point to boost retention is to foster a workplace environment rich in psychological safety.
Research indicates that when leaders foster a culture of safety -- where employees are free to speak up, give feedback, and ask for help -- it leads to better performance outcomes. When psychological safety is absent, fear is present. And fear is detrimental to achieving a team's full potential. Your employees just can't be engaged or innovative when they are afraid.
If your employees are working in a culture of fear and intimidation right now, you can bet that there are things they just won't say they need from their leader or manager to work better.
Speaking on behalf of your silent employees, here are three they won't tell you, which will instantly boost your company's retention and keep your people from joining the Great Resignation.
1. They need purpose in their work
Atlassian's State of Teams study surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. workers from across industries to get an insight into the current state of team health. According to the results, 49 percent of workers suffer from low energy levels, saying they don't derive meaning or purpose from their work. Mahe Bayireddi, co-founder and CEO of Phenom, told me in a recent interview on my podcast, "The pandemic caused frontline and knowledge workers to reckon with the immense role a job has in their lives. They want a purpose, not an endless series of meaningless tasks."
While companies often look at things like revenue and sales as metrics of success, purpose-driven businesses have a clear vision of the "why" behind the business. This allows team members to feel more connected to the work they're doing and provides a clear understanding of the motivation behind each business decision.
Also, quite often, remote workers are left out of the loop because they're not physically present. But just like traditional, in-office employees, remote workers want clear expectations for the job and access to information. The key is to make them feel valued, not forgotten, by assigning more responsibility that gives them purpose and adds meaning to their work and career development.
2. They need work-life balance
Companies trying to attract talent amid the Great Resignation will need to offer an even more flexible approach to work. New hires in 2022 will be seeking out organizations that offer the flexibility to create work schedules that fit their lifestyle needs. Expect to see more organizations differentiating themselves around the flexible ways of working they offer.
3. They need to feel connected
The pandemic brought with it increased loneliness. In a recent study, 36 percent of respondents reported feeling lonely "frequently" or "almost all the time or all the time."
To reduce loneliness in the often isolated remote world, leaders should promote as much connection and collaboration as possible with teammates (don't confuse this to mean you have to schedule more meetings, which would actually lead to meeting overload and digital fatigue).
Helping employees feel connected means fostering an environment where they feel like they belong to a family. The primary way to do that is to begin valuing the employee as a whole person.
"On the surface, the Great Resignation may look like a battle for escalating compensation and remote work perks, but if you probe a little deeper, what you learn is that this is about employees feeling disconnected, having lost their personal connection to your company and to the meaning in their work," says Christy Wyatt, CEO of Absolute Software.
A good starting point to reverse disconnectedness and isolation is for leaders to build community. This means promoting a sense of belonging and connection for all team members and emphasizing teamwork. Finally, building community means valuing the differences of others -- differing strengths, expressions, ideas, personalities, and viewpoints.
When people feel connected in cultures of belonging and shared values they are happier and more engaged in their work. They are also more than happy to tell others about where they work and why they work there.