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The Workforce is Speaking. Are You Listening?

The 5 Things You Need To Know Now.

It’s being called “the Great Resignation”, the current mass exodus in organizations. And it looks like it is going to continue for quite some time.

What we know.

According to CNBC, 11.5 million people quit their jobs between the three months of April 2021 – June 2021. And this pattern may continue as 56% of Gen Z workers say that they are unhappy with the work-life balance at their current job.

It’s no surprise, we’ve known for a long time that employees have been increasingly seeking greater balance, purpose and fulfillment in their work. However, “the workforce IS doing something about it.” in the words of LZ Granderson in his LA Times article, Employees are speaking up, voting with their feet and they are doing so in record numbers. The question is, are you and your organization listening?

What’s at risk.

Alison Stevens, Director of HR services at Paychex suggests that “companies who aren’t willing to listen to their employees and realign their benefits and perks in accordance with what their workers need stand to lose more than just new talent. They can (also) lose their ability to remain operational,” she said.

And it isn’t just about employee benefits and perks. The data suggests that it is also about trust, flexibility, connection, belonging and an organization’s genuine interest in their personal and professional development and wellbeing. What once were used as incentives (fancy snack bars, ping pong tables, job titles and compensation) are no longer working in the same way. The pandemic has offered many employees the opportunity to re-evaluate what matters most and re-imagine what they want their work life to look and feel like. And they expect organizations to respond to this shift.

So, what needs to happen.

We know that thoughtful, patient strategic planning is important and that in the words of Adam Grant, “it is a responsibility to make the wisest decisions”. At the same time, the Great Resignation is demanding a faster, more agile pace of decision making and action. In fact, there is a great cost to turnover, sometimes more than we imagine.

Kimberly Merriman, a management professor at the Manning School of Business at the University of Massachusetts Lowell says that disgruntled workers “can erode performance and culture until they finally leave or get fired.” As a company, she says, “those are the workers I’d be more worried about.”

Leaders need to be communicating more frequently with their employees and being genuinely interested in how they feel. But it can’t stop there. As a leader, you must be willing to create new and innovative strategies for meeting their needs, while at the same time, strengthening internal systems and structures that can support a culture of employee attraction and retention.

This is “a bit of a wake-up call for employers, and it’s also a wake-up call for employees,” she said. “The companies that will do well are the ones that are going to be braver in making the bigger changes.”

As a leader, this is your moment to assess where your organization is at risk, stand proudly on your greatest strengths and get clear on highest priority opportunities to shift.

Here are “5 questions” you should be asking yourself now:

  1. What strategies are in place for you to assess how your employees are feeling and if they are thinking of leaving?
  2. What process is in place to strategically and creatively explore how to meet the emerging needs of your employees at this moment in time?
  3. Do all of your managers (anyone that has a direct report) have the training and skills they need to deepen trust and connection with their people? Think about capabilities like emotional intelligence and agility, high quality communication skills (coaching mindset and approach), and the practice of compassion (not just empathy)
  4. Does senior management genuinely care about the wellbeing of all employees: How is this care and concern being shown?
  5. Does your organization have the systems and structures in place to support a people first culture for success into this emerging future of work?

We would love to support you to seize this moment and optimize the next few months to stabilize and set a strong foundation for 2022. Email us


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