Thursday, May 26, 2022

The Inevitable Great Resignation

The LinkedIn network is run amuck with people posting new career adventures. I had questioned whether the Great Resignation was a theme more than a reality. I also questioned if mass professional exodus was a sign of disengagement or simply a trend to bolster individual empowerment. Make no mistake about it, the Great Resignation is here. 

There are a few distinct things that drive people from their job:

1. Bad Bosses

2. Lack of Upward Mobility

3.  No Alignment with Company Values

4. Ineffective Products/Solutions

What seems to have been over-looked in the malaise of the Great Resignation is that most of the above is avoidable through individuals taking ownership of their professional progression. Having a boss who seeks to limit your potential is of the worst part of professional existence. If you are passed over for multiple promotions your tenure is probably limited. To work for a company with a questionable commitment to elevated social worth can render your effort pointless. If you are bringing a product to market that doesn't work it is difficult not to feel like a fraud. These prompts to consider sharpening up the resume have always existed. The time tucked away in the COVID bunker has amplified the things that make work difficult, enter the Great Resignation.

As the COVID19 pandemic spotlighted the long ignored need for work/life balance, so now the Great Resignation has turned all heads in HR to enhance workforce engagement. How? What can we do to bring the tools to our workforce that will keep them engaged and keep the resume in the draft folder?

Carrots Not Sticks

There is a historical narrative that states: that which you which you wish to see repeated should be recognized. Not only is the sentiment of being thankful ever-important but the strategy behind rewards systems has evolved into driving performance. Through the COVID19 pandemic, companies had a built-in excuse to discard rewards. Those who made the sacrifice to prioritize employee well-being during the down times have seen sustained retention and improved engagement. People will always remember how they were treated in times of downturn, those companies who put "thank you" on-hold during the forced work-from-home experiment have seen mass-exodus in the return to office rebound.  

To be recognized by one's peers drives intrinsic motivation and can amplify the profile of more-reserved superstars. Here, we see qualitative work emerging by recognition from those in the trenches where overly-consumed managers may have failed to see the potential in their direct reports. What's best is peer-to-peer recognition need not carry a fiscal value but can serve to bolster cultural engagement (especially in virtual work environments).

Where is manager spend allocated? Let's say each team lead is given $2,500 a quarter to serve their employees. They use a portion for team dinners, happy hours or pizza lunches. There might be contests that reward winners with a gift card for their effort. There are two issues that arise in this scenario: We are unsure of who is being recognized for what.... and budgets are disbursed to disparate programs. Employees have a slice of pizza over here, a gift card there and a bit of cash directly deposited to their bank account. 

With a comprehensive points-based system, employees can combine their earning in each of the above mentioned categories. Now, a person can set goals to purchase a trip to Las Vegas as opposed to having unrealized rewards in fragments.      

Intentional Career Development

There was a time when even HR Leaders were apprehensive about the amount of training they were bringing to their employees. The thought being that if they learned too much people would leave for other opportunities. Times have changed! These days rewards, incentives and upward mobility are tied to performance as well as behavioral dynamics. We all know that top performers don't necessarily make the best leaders so the question remains: how do we determine who our future leaders might be? The answer is fairly straight forward.

You can measure performance to objectives through quantitative initiatives (i.e. revenue improvement). If you develop modules for recognizing qualitative behaviors alongside quantitative measures you can corelate corporate citizenship scores next to revenue components to find the leaders of tomorrow. 

Ownership Sharing    

Some companies give out stock options, others participate in revenue sharing, certain places give a healthy 401k contribution and others simply have robust compensation packages. What one is paid is a baseline qualifier. There is always a company that will likely pay you more but a pay check is, now more than ever, only part of the deal. Culture, upward mobility, flexible work and corporate citizenship are equally important to pay equity among the current workforce.

To have your opinions heard and applied is a form of influence sharing. Knowing the work you do contributes to making the world a better place gives one the energy to jump into work each day. If your CEO proves to be a genuinely caring person it is unlikely you would leave her workforce to chase more money. These concepts may seem divinely simple, but in times of chaos, simplicity wins.

It feels like the world is in the midst of a restart. What an opportunity to recreate your organizational purpose and establish the Human Resource function as the driving force behind making the world a better place. 

So what are you waiting for?

Thank You for Reading!

- Dave