The “Great Resignation” is far from over. In fact, it appears to be heating up.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the percentage of unemployed Americans who voluntarily left their jobs and immediately began looking for new ones increased to 15.9% last month. This is the highest share of “job leavers” in more than three decades. While the unemployment rate has continued to fall, so has the number of Americans participating in the workforce, highlighting a number of workers who are disengaged.
When employees feel valued, seen, and recognized, they are more motivated to work. And the more motivated they feel, the more productivity improves, which, incidentally, has been falling for the first time in decades.
Retention is priority number one at many, if not most, workplaces right now. But improving company culture in order to bolster retention can be a tough egg to crack—“culture” can mean different things to different people—and your team members are already suggesting improvements to your culture. They want to stay; the problem is that executives still don’t see these requests as a priority. Yet, unhappy employees impact their team members, as well as their customers, every day. When they (eventually) leave the organization, it can be very costly. Sometimes, it’s even worse when they stay!
Workplace trends such as “quiet quitting,” in which employees stick around but are checked out and/or doing the bare minimum, and cyberloafing, which is when employees use the Internet at work for non-work-related matters, are the result of soured corporate cultures. The solution is shifting the company narrative from employee retention to employee satisfaction. This approach consists of three major steps.
1. Think Like an Employee
If you want to reengage your quiet quitters and cyberloafers, start by recognizing what they are doing that’s positively impacting the organization. Great recognition is all about people feeling appreciated for the work they do. A lot of employers think engagement is about points and annual rewards—it’s not. Engagement stats haven’t changed in decades, despite all of the plaques and etched glass trinkets. Giving your employees the freedom to choose how they’re rewarded is the most effective strategy, whether that means a cup of coffee, a tank of gas, or a new surfboard—they should have the power to choose what’s meaningful to them.
2. Be a Boss
A survey of 2,000 employees conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Motivosity showed that a positive influence, such as an admired boss, can have a long-term influence on employee morale; nearly three-quarters of respondents said their role models impact their behavior on a daily basis. This mirrors a finding from Gallup, which found that managers are the single biggest influencers in terms of team engagement and performance. Indeed, the polling giant found that 70% of the variance in team engagement is determined solely by the manager.
The obvious conclusion is that managers—and other leaders—must show their team members that they know what they do matters. A terrific place to start is by celebrating “wins” across the team in real time.
3. Encourage Feedback
Constructive feedback is also essential, and it does not have to be monetary to have a direct impact on employee motivation. In the same survey, for example, employees listed more feedback on their role as the primary thing (53%) they want to see more of from their boss, beating out extra compensation (48%) and more honest communication (48%). When employees feel valued, seen, and recognized, they become more motivated within the workplace. This, in turn, improves team productivity and ultimately creates a great organization.
Logan Mallory is Vice President of Marketing at Motivosity, an employee engagement and recognition software platform that goes beyond the traditional rewards system and allows team members to recognize one another with small cash gifts.