Almost 18 months after the term “The Great Resignation” was coined by University College London Professor Anthony Klotz, the number of people voluntarily quitting their jobs is still climbing, according to the most recent Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey by the U.S. Labor Department. Even more worrying perhaps is the rise of “quiet quitting,” whereby professionals disconnect from their company culture and their job and do the minimum required to receive their paycheck at the end of the month. If left unchecked, both these instances of resignation—whether internal (doing the bare minimum) or external (quitting)—can pose a threat to business. Great leaders, however, are those who see opportunity in the data.
The New Challenges of Increased Flexibility
A Gallup report detailing the future of hybrid work shares that over 50% of professionals now expect a hybrid arrangement. The physical distance that comes with this working model, however, has unnecessarily led to a sense of disconnect, with Gallup reporting that U.S. employee engagement took another step backward during the second quarter of 2022. On top of that, chronic overwork has worsened, with 57% of professionals reporting they finish their workday with a feeling of complete exhaustion. Even more disheartening is learning that less than 40% of young remote or hybrid professionals clearly know what is expected of them at work.
While hybrid work can transform business for the better, facilitating flexibility and empowering talent, leaders have an important role to play when it comes to ensuring that engagement and well-being stay strong. Without the visibility and opportunities for feedback provided by office environments, workers may begin to feel a sense of increased professional insecurity. Connecting to a never-ending stream of meetings suddenly becomes a way of proving value and keeping control. This can very quickly lead to burnout. Professionals want the flexibility remote work brings, but for this to be sustainable, they need to feel valued for their work. They also need to feel they are investing their time in a place where they can grow professionally. And above all, they need to feel as if they are part of something bigger than themselves.
The future of work presents many challenges, yet companies that map out a way to build a model of recognition and feedback into their everyday working structure and allocate a budget to co-creating a talent-centric company culture will not only tackle attrition but also begin attracting the top professionals who boost performance and increase profit.
The Importance of Recognition and Feedback
Another Gallup survey on employer feedback shows that when recognition hits the mark, professionals are 73% less likely to “always” or “very often” feel burned out. They are also 56% less likely to be looking or watching for job opportunities, four times as likely to be engaged, and 44% more likely to report “thriving” in their life overall. It is curious, then, that 81% of leaders say recognition is not a major strategic priority for their organization. Companies that harness the power of recognition can not only stifle silent killers like quiet quitting but also gain an edge over competitors.
When it comes to increasing engagement, establishing a model of continuous feedback is equally as important as giving regular recognition. Data from Gallup’s feedback survey shows that employees who receive “meaningful feedback” are almost four times more likely to be engaged. The frequency of the feedback, however, is as important as its quality. Cisco found that managers who have one-on-one time with team members every week drive employee engagement up 77% and actual first-year voluntary turnover down 67%, according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ). It is clearer than ever, then, that relying on the annual performance review alone just doesn’t cut it–the same report shares that this yearly point of feedback missed “the gritty, granular, unique raw material of real performance.” Given this, it is no wonder that 86% of professionals don’t think their annual review is accurate (according to the WSJ). Feedback, to have a real impact, should not only enable professionals to continuously share insights about the performance of any colleague at any time, laying out real-time recommendations for professional development, but also empower talent to grow their career at their own pace.
Recognition and continuous feedback can have profound effects on employee engagement, yet their impact can be amplified further by harnessing the power of one fundamental component of a successful company culture: purpose. Gallup research shows that just a 10% improvement in employees’ connection with the mission or purpose of their organization leads to an 8.1% decrease in turnover and a 4.4% increase in profitability. While a company’s mission should not be molded to the fancies of its talent, leaders should be looking to co-create a purpose-driven culture at work—one that creates community through recognition, builds careers through continuous feedback, fosters trust through flexibility, and puts people at its core.
Creating a Purpose-Driven Culture
Flexibility, growth, and purpose lie at the heart of what professionals expect from their jobs. Feeling overworked and undervalued, many have taken a step back to reframe their goals and reassess their priorities. Companies looking to stimulate long-term growth would benefit from building a culture that centers on people and purpose. To do this, leaders must listen to their talent and lay out how they will move forward together. They must make their talent feel valued for their work and help them forge career paths by making recognition and continuous feedback part of their working habits. Increased engagement will follow suit, as will lower rates of attrition. While designing a healthy company culture requires an initial level of consideration and commitment, technology plays a key role in accelerating this process. Once established, however, the created culture will nourish and reinforce itself perpetually, dictating purpose, productivity, and profit—and when done right, all three can rise.
Chad Cathers is a culture evangelist, digital transformation leader, and passionate believer in reshaping the world of work into one that works for everybody. As CEO of StarMeUp, Cathers is dedicated to helping companies co-create the culture they deserve—one that gives talent autonomy and flexibility, one that helps leaders boost performance, and one that builds community at work. Cathers has spent more than 20 years focused on partnering with some of the world’s leading brands, helping build human-centric organizations, creating engaging digital experiences, and building strategies around the future of work.