Workers are quitting their jobs at abnormally high rates.
In the first quarter of 2021, over 11 million Americans quit their jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Labour. As of mid-2021, an equal number of job openings remained unfilled, which is a nationwide record, according to Inc Magazine.
Resignation rates are highest among mid-career employees between the ages of 30 and 45, reports the Harvard Business Review. This group is traditionally the least engaged due to midlife pressures of work, finances, and family.
And while the “Great Resignation” is affecting all industries, it’s especially acute in the technology and healthcare industries.
What’s causing the mass exodus? The ability to work-from-anywhere, especially from home, is a big driver. But several other issues were already compounding the problem, according to a recent Dale Carnegie survey. Chief among them: not feeling valued at work, leadership blind spots, and overall bad vibes.
The Importance of the Employee Experience
It may sound obvious, but if you want to retain more employees, you have to give them more of what they want and improve their employee experience. Unfortunately, the easy answer of “more money” doesn’t tell the full story.
In fact, modern workers want to have a voice in the creative output of their teams. They want leadership to validate and welcome their efforts, including the ability to learn from their mistakes. And they want positive encouragement as much as an income.
According to a recent Dale Carnegie employee survey, nearly half of all respondents said they were afraid to bring up tough issues with their leaders. An equal number said they didn’t feel safe making mistakes without retribution. On top of that, just 61% of employees believe that management is allowing them to come up with better ways of doing things.
How to Improve the Employee Experience
Overall, here’s what matters most to employees and how to boost employee experience:
Feeling valued: Fewer than 1 in 4 respondents strongly agreed that “people in our company value each other’s unique skills, perspectives, and talents.”
Truly listening & respecting ideas: 84% of employees say this is very important but say this is only exhibited half of the time.
Optimism for the future: 15% of employees strongly agree that company leadership makes them enthusiastic about the future.
In other words, many employees don’t feel valued, trusted, motivated, or even heard when it comes to working. Moving forward, with work-from-home now the norm, workers will increasingly seek out employers that can provide better employee engagement and the ability to make an impact in a positive work environment.
How Leaders Can Avoid the Great Resignation
If you think you lead a team of incompetent workers, your people will surely live up to the low expectation you’ve set. On the other hand, if you think you lead a team of qualified people that can be trusted, deserve second chances, and are allowed to creatively think for themselves when it comes to solving problems, you will likely attract the talent you seek.
Of course, every human has blind spots—leaders very much included. When it comes to some key behaviours that motivate and inspire employees to give their best efforts, leaders around the world consistently underperform in the following areas, according to another Dale Carnegie study:
4 Ways Leaders Can Keep Employees Happy
Leaders must give their employees sincere praise and appreciation. “Considering your paycheck as your thank you note” is never enough. Leaders must use words of affirmation, gifts, and recognise team member contributions.
Leaders do well to admit when they are wrong. Only 41% of employees say their supervisors do this. Failing to do so quickly erodes company credibility and employee engagement.
Leaders must listen to, value, and even implement employee opinions. “We want to hear from you,” is only true half the time, according to our recent survey which found that 49% of employees believe this. And instead of just saying it, you have to demonstrate that you are listening.
Leaders must be honest with their employees. Just 20% of respondents believe their leaders are honest with them. This is much lower than it should be.
By addressing the above blind spots, leaders can put themselves in a better position to quantify retention problems, identify root causes, and develop tailored programs that better engage employees beyond the standard compensation package.
The Power of Positivity in Boosting Employee Morale
One final point: don’t underestimate the power of positive emotion. As Dale Carnegie famously said, “When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.”
Consequently, leaders must be mindful of how their own emotions (good or bad) impact their workers and anticipate how change can affect employee morale. Furthermore, look for daily ways to value your people in their everyday work and get help if you need interpersonal improvement.
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