Many names have been given to the massive workforce shifts caused by Covid-19: the Great Resignation, the Big Quit, the Great Reshuffle, the Great Talent Swap. They all imply one event: a one-time shift of talent.
However, as a recent research report from Workhuman highlights, this disruption is actually an ongoing process; a tumult of waves instead of a “Turnover Tsunami.”
Despite the tumult of the past two years, people have moved on, both professionally and personally, but the pandemic has inspired people to rethink their lives. Many left their jobs to look for work in new companies and in other sectors that better suit them. However, this research suggests that workers’ desire to change persists two years after the start of the pandemic.
The number of people looking for a new job remains high — 36 percent as of November 2021, according to the Workhuman report. However, many of those who have changed jobs find that the grass isn’t always greener. More than 50 percent of Covid-era employees plan to look for new work in the next 12 months; and nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of Boomerang workers — workers who say they would return to a former employer — reflect that sentiment, and this number is rising for those who started a new job during the pandemic (69 percent).
Make work more human
At a time when people still struggle to balance work to live and live to work, HR and business leaders need to refocus their efforts to make their business a preferred destination for job seekers. And research suggests employers can achieve these goals by doubling down on connection, community and belonging. In other words, by making work less transactional and more human. Here are three ways to do it:
1. Start showing praise and appreciation
You don’t need data to tell you that the current workforce is increasingly burned out, stressed, and overworked — and craves a sense of belonging. While these employees need to be supported in myriad ways, an easy win is to simply appreciate them more publicly. In fact, Workhuman’s findings found that employees who were thanked in the past month were half as likely to look for a new job and three times more likely to see a path to growth within their current organization.
This has a huge impact from a small shift, just a simple change of mindset and the willingness to invest in your people. We are all human, and we all know firsthand how much pleasure we get when someone compliments us when we do something right. Showing genuine gratitude more often fosters the camaraderie and connection you need to recruit and retain top talent.
2. Communicate your commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion
While many social justice issues have focused on diversity and inclusion, how have they impacted the workplace? The vast majority (72 percent) of those surveyed also said diversity, equality and inclusion are a somewhat or very important factor when it comes to deciding whether to stay with a company. That number is even higher for Gen Z workers (86 percent) and black workers (87 percent). This should give leaders pause as they consider the implications their DEI efforts have on everything from the psychological safety of their employees to the team’s connection to their work.
And it doesn’t necessarily matter where your organization is in its DEI journey; the key is to have a clear vision of where you want to be and a commitment to communicate that vision internally (to employees) and externally (to future talent). Like saying thank you, this is a simple shift from providing greater transparency and ultimately building trust with your colleagues.
3. Recognize life events
There are many important life events that take place outside of the office — buying a house, getting married, having children, running a marathon, etc. And while we often think about how much of our personal life should be transferred to work and vice versa, there are plenty of milestones like this that don’t have to be done in secret; they should be celebrated.
Sixty-six percent of people say they would appreciate more opportunities to celebrate personal life events at work, but 54 percent of organizations don’t currently celebrate those events, according to Workhuman.
This is seen as a missed opportunity to make people feel that work is really a part of their lives. That’s why leaders need to consider unique ways of bringing people together — including remote workers — to mark key moments.
While the Great Resignation will likely stick with us for a while, leaders can offset the disruption by leaning on the evidence. Research into employee engagement and well-being has shown time and again that employees seek recognition and appreciation.
People make a business successful, so it is the duty of leaders to create an environment that helps them thrive. By focusing on more human experiences, leaders can turn the tide on employee turnover and even regain many of the boomerang employees they’ve lost.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not Inc.com’s.
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