The Great Awakening: Become a more human-centric employer and give your people a reason to stay

“Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can do what others can’t.”

-Jerry Rice, Pro Football Hall of Fame Wide Receiver

This is a great quote by an amazing athlete who understood that he had to do things differently – doing what others couldn’t – if he were to out-perform his competition on the football field.

Companies are working hard to out-perform their competition and keep good talent from walking out the door, but the Great Resignation is impacting their business and causing them to compete for talent like never before.  

Why?  Their employees are leaving because they realize they don’t have anything to stay for.  They have a newly awakened desire to have a sense of belonging and meaningful work.  To reverse this trend, employers will have to do things differently:  – develop employees who are dedicated and want to stick around and grow their careers.

Career development is a human-centric approach of intentionally and proactively providing each employee an individualized pathway to grow and succeed in the organization.  To start taking ownership, and moving forward, employers should do what other employers aren’t doing: have conversations with each of their valued employees to get answers to the following questions that will inform the company’s planning and actions.

What gives you fulfillment here?

Reminding employees of their unique contributions to the company’s mission and strategic aspirations adds meaning to their work.  It can also increase their motivation to expand their responsibilities and advance in the organization.  But don’t assume they already know how their work adds value. Offer regular insights into how their day-to-day actions make a difference to the organization and be sure to highlight the team’s progress toward key objectives.

How are you learning and growing?

Learning something new can bring an immediate sense of achievement.  To what extent do the employees build competence or expertise in their roles through learning?  Learning can take many forms.  It can include things like taking courses, reading books, observing others, meeting with mentors, taking on stretch assignments, or teaching someone else your skills and abilities.  What opportunities do employees have to keep learning and acquiring new skills and expertise that provide future value?  

What relationships are important to grow and nurture?

Relationships are fundamental to building human-centric organizations.  No one can go it alone.  When employees are “heads down” in their work or working remotely (as many will be going forward), relationship building is a challenge and employees become disconnected and possible flight risks. Help employees draw out a network map, identifying those stakeholders who are important to their success and future advancement in the organization. For example, a mid-level finance professional who may aspire to become a CFO would benefit from interactions with C-level executives and other senior leaders.  Similarly, a business development professional benefits from regular interaction with operations and manufacturing to stay up-to-date on products and services.

How are you managing your health and well-being?

Do your employees have the flexibility they need when it’s necessary?  Do they use their vacation and personal days (more than half of all Americans report having unused vacation days every year)? Today’s workforce is concerned about their health and well-being and expects their employers to prioritize this as well. Employers need to do things differently, augmenting gym memberships and healthy snacks with the work schedules and options that provide for a healthy life-work balance.

What opportunities do you have to advance?

More than 75% of employees leave their organizations because they don’t have clear visibility to advancement opportunities.  Overcoming obstacles to advancement will increase the retention of top talent and the company’s competitive edge. Invest in your team by providing them with opportunities to advance, such as tasking them with new responsibilities; encouragement of mentoring and job shadowing; rotation of roles and responsibilities, and creating a succession plan that provides a clear vision to the future for high-potentials.

Everyone involved stands to benefit from shifting workplace culture to one of engagement, purpose, and meaning. Though that shift may be a significant change for some businesses, becoming a more human-centric employer and giving your people a reason to stay will catapult your business into an employer of choice.  From higher rates of retention to a better bottom-line for the employer, overall happiness from employees, and increased satisfaction from customers and clients, there are no losers in this proposition. With the right internal changes, becoming a human-centric employer that naturally attracts the best talent in your industry is within reach.