September 29, 2021 • By the New Iron Blogger
“The Great Resignation” or “The Great Reshuffle” and for Baby Boomers who’ve had enough – “The Great Retirement.” However, for most business leaders, it is becoming a “Great Headache.” We live in a time of “greats,” and they are not too good. At New Iron Solutions, we see firsthand high levels of career unhappiness across multiple generations. So, as workers continue to leave in record numbers and leaders worry about keeping their best and brightest while bringing others on board to fill gaps and continue their growth, how do we begin to get a handle on this and start a “Great Retention” instead?
Of course, the pandemic is often seen as the root cause. After all, entire industries and labor pools have been affected (i.e., travel and hospitality), and some are seemingly changed forever due to the last 18 months. However, many of these challenges were already underway well before the pandemic – skills shortages, “war for talent,” record low unemployment, demographic shifts, generational attitudes concerning work, technology, and more. The pandemic just accelerated many of these changes.
How do we change from the reactive mindset of the last 18 months to a more proactive approach designed to not only attract great candidates but to keep your best and brightest from seeking greener pastures elsewhere? In our discussions with clients and candidates, there are three “Cs” to pay attention to in the ever-changing employment landscape: Culture, Communication, and Capital (the human form).
When talking with candidates, we typically ask what is prompting them to seek a new opportunity? Far and away, the number one answer is culture. They report no empathy, understanding, work/life balance, and how their company handled the challenges of the pandemic has them looking to leave. In fact, according to a recent PI People Management Report, nearly 50% of employees are considering striking out for something new. Moreover, this trend is largely driven by those earlier in their careers – 49% of millennials and 56% of Gen Zers are looking to leave their current positions.
As we dig further into cultural challenges, we find a significant disconnect between company leaders and their employees in perceptions versus reality. For example, research from Human Resource Executive finds that 84% of CEOs believe empathetic organizations get stronger business results. On the flip side: 83% of employees would consider leaving their job to join a more empathetic employer.
Since the pandemic started, people who work from home across all generations are logging an average of two more hours of work per day. According to a recent Finery Report survey, 83% report working overtime was the norm, and 70% regularly work on the weekends. Pandemic burnout, resetting priorities, and a need for work-life balance are real. However, it also creates opportunities for companies with cultures that better address it through more flexible work schedules and letting employees have choices, setting clear work-life boundaries (fostering the need for a life outside of work), and increasing support.
Working from home and hybrid work arrangements, while showing increased productivity, also make the employee feel less seen, heard, and valued. Our previous blog post addressed the need for more regular one-to-one communication to help bridge the gap. The message – Talk, or they will walk. Communicate with your people frequently and one-on-one.
Another casualty of the last (18) months has been learning and development (L&D) programs— only 29% of organizations have clear development plans for their employees. In addition, 50% of employees say they are dissatisfied with L&D opportunities in their own companies. During the pandemic, investment and focus have been on making hybrid and WFH work for their people. However, without continued L&D, many employees leave because they seek these opportunities at other companies or are learning and upskilling independently, which is especially true in tech.
We need to shift to a mindset of developing our employees and their skillsets instead of simply replacing them— especially since the replacements are not to be found or would find a lack of L&D unattractive. According to Kristy McCann Flynn, an Organization Development Expert in her recent article The Reason Behind the Great Resignation That No One is Talking About, “Antiquated approaches and overpriced software solutions aren’t the magic bullets employers believe them to be. Companies may have gotten by with these in the past, but in today’s competitive hiring environment, they simply don’t cut it. As a result, employees are jumping ship.” The solution? Ask your people what they are looking for and what would make them more productive and successful, provide professional coaching and mentorship programs, and ditch the “one size fits all” approach for more personalized L&D. According to McCann Flynn, “Organizations are now in a critically short window of opportunity where they can opt to either offer learning and development that actually works or watch employees go elsewhere.”
No question, this can all be challenging for Gen Xer and Baby Boomer leaders for whom terms like “work-life balance” and “burnout” may have been seen in the past as weaknesses, but they are real and affecting everyone regardless of generation. Starting a Great Retention at your company starts with a people-focused approach to culture, communication, and continued investment in your human capital. First, examine your culture – is this how you would want to be treated if you were the employee? Are we offering our people the flexibility, choices, work-life boundaries, and support that increases engagement and retention – or are we lacking in these areas? Second, are we regularly communicating with our people, improving connection, and listening? Lastly, are we increasing our investment in L&D, which will not only increase engagement and retention but will bring a measurable return in increased productivity and growth? Once leaders can positively answer these questions, then their own “Great Retention” can begin and continue well after the pandemic has faded into history.
The Answer for Today and Tomorrow
In this unprecedented business environment, it may also be time to shift your thinking on recruiting and make an investment to bring on an experienced partner. One that can help you acquire the right talent and put your company in a position to grow. We can help.
New Iron Solutions realizes that it is more important than ever not just to fill a position but fill it with a candidate that will take your company to the next level. It may be time to bring on an experienced partner to help you navigate this new age as the cost of IT employee turnover and missed opportunities are just too high to ignore. We help drive the achievement of our client company’s strategic goals by identifying middle management to C-Level leadership professionals. They align with the culture, behaviors, and results valued by your organization.