Why are so many people quitting their jobs? According to a recent report from McKinsey, employers believe it’s a pay or work-life balance issue. But the employees who quit tell a different story. Their main reasons for quitting are 1) to feel unappreciated and 2) to feel no sense of belonging. And yet, during the pandemic, the most productive companies have broken this trend, improving employee job satisfaction by 48%. What do these successful organizations have in common? They practice five principles, illustrated in this article, that help their teams connect and thrive. As we reimagine our work in the post-pandemic era, consider how these principles can help you create a sense of belonging in your team and show team members that they are indeed valued. Teams that consciously apply these principles not only survive, but grow through challenge. These are the teams people want to belong to. Build these teams and their members won’t want to leave.
More than 25 million people will leave their jobs in the second half of 2021. The so-called “Great Dismissal” is in full swing. And quitting leads to more quitting—so much so that The New York Times coined a new term for it: quitagion.
Why are so many people quitting their jobs? According to a recent report from McKinsey, employers believe it’s a pay or work-life balance issue. But the employees who quit tell a different story. Their main reasons for quitting are 1) to feel unappreciated and 2) to feel no sense of belonging. And yet, during the pandemic, the most productive companies have broken this trend, improving employee job satisfaction by 48%. What do these successful organizations have in common? They apply five principles that help their teams connect and thrive.
To illustrate these principles, let’s take the example of Michelle Taite, a CMO appointed to help accelerate the integration of two companies after an acquisition. As we reimagine our work in the post-pandemic era, consider how these principles can help you create a sense of belonging in your team and show team members that they are indeed valued.
Put people first
When the conditions are right, people can achieve more together than anyone can alone. In an ideal world, the more people give, the more they get. A victory for one is a victory for all. Achievement is a positive sum game. In this state, people feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. Pleasure increases and productivity in turn is increased. When a team fails to achieve this, they enter a zero-sum game, a state where everyone is motivated by their own interests, and the team as a whole suffers.
Promote a positive-sum game by creating an environment where team members work together, rather than protecting themselves from the zero-sum game. This happens when team members relax in a relationship of trust that they believe is not just a transaction, but based on genuine concern. When that relationship is established, team members trust each other to have their backs and respect each other as individuals with needs, aspirations, and joys. This state, also known as shared empathy, is a leading indicator of effective teams. Leaders and teams develop shared empathy as they learn and care about each other’s deeper experience and interest in each other’s lives – celebrating birthdays and inquiring about people’s children, spouses, and hobbies.
When Michelle stepped into her new role, she primarily introduced herself to her team as a person. She shared photos of her family, her interests, and her heritage. Michelle’s team created a Slack channel dedicated to fun and people, letting their personalities shine. She posted snippets of her own life, such as a family photo over the weekend or her child’s collapse with the caption, “Sometimes the mornings are interesting here.” Make time for humor and create space for personal connection. Open meetings with icebreakers such as, “Why did you laugh this weekend?”, “What’s your favorite candy?”, or “What was the high and low of your week?”
Rally around shared goals
Anyone who has ever been part of a sports team knows that performing together can be a close-knit experience. Leveraging the desire for greatness, team members strive together and challenge each other to be the best they can be. The fun of learning and ultimately winning is magnified tenfold when shared with others. Challenges close-knit teams, but only if they share the belief that the pursuit of winning unites them.
Michelle and her team use the hashtag #BeatOurBest to achieve bold goals as they strive to build on their greatest achievements. In defining their marketing goals, the team framed the conversation around two questions: “What do we need to do to truly meet our customers’ needs and drive growth?” and “How can we #BeatOurBest?” The way teammates were encouraged to learn, experiment and push the boundaries in the service of the greater cause. And they specifically use the hashtag to unify. Michelle signs in her weekly email with “Let’s #BeatOurBest together.” The hashtag helps them orientate on the shared experience to reach the unknown and discover how big their wins can be.
Model of humility and curiosity
People bond when they share a set of values that make them feel like there is something special about their group. Humility and curiosity are two values that can strengthen the bond. Humility is the recognition of our limits. When a leader models humility, it creates space for others to contribute. The leader recognizes gaps that others can fill and also creates an environment where it is psychologically safe to give bold ideas and risk being wrong. Curiosity is the recognition that there is always more to learn. This feeds the excitement of experimenting and growing.
Recognize opportunities to show humility by responding to feedback with openness and curiosity rather than defensiveness. Lead with research and be clear that your proposals are a starting point. This encourages differing opinions and creativity. Michelle showed humility and curiosity when she told her team, “I’m going to ask a lot of questions. They may be stupid, but that’s okay. I would really like to learn it.” To encourage curiosity, let you enjoy moments of discovery directly and indirectly related to work. In her weekly newsletter, Michelle shares insights and inspiration from her own reading, podcasts and TED videos. These serve as thought starters for the team.
Shared joy – especially the joy of team wins – strengthens bonds. The stress of hitting goals can take the joy out of work. Celebrating wins together keeps the focus where it needs to be for a team to excel and tie through progress. In her newsletter, Michelle celebrates “Great Work of the Week,” with achievements large and small, recognizing the unique value each team member adds to the greater effort. Her team has a ‘ka-ching’ button that they press when someone has an idea that unlocks the work. This enhances the diversity of input and marks small steps forward in a fun and light-hearted way.
Connect the dots
When teams understand their why, motivation and performance increase. Knowing that one’s work has an impact and feeling that the work is meaningful are two of the top five predictors of a high-performing team. Always connect the dots between the work and the greater purpose or purpose, helping each individual understand how their own work contributes to the collective success.
And remember that why that matters to people like no other is connection. Their work connects them with consumers, with other parts of the organization that depend on them, and above all with each other. Teams that consciously invest in these connections are unique. They not only endure, but grow through challenge. These are the teams people want to belong to. Build those teams and their members won’t want to leave.
This post How teams are currently retaining employees was original published at “https://hbr.org/2022/04/how-teams-are-retaining-employees-right-now”