Since the demand for jobs exceeds today’s supply of workers, employees have the edge when it comes to the so called “war for talent.” Employees want so much more than just fair pay, a little time off and medical benefits. Today, employees are expecting, even demanding, a whole new work environment, specifically a better employee experience. When the experience doesn’t match the expectation, employees are more likely than ever to take their talents elsewhere.
According to Gallup, the “quit rate” (the rate at which employees voluntarily leave their jobs) is 2.3%. This is the highest it’s been in 15 years and the third-highest rate recorded since tracking began in 2000. Furthermore, the number has remained unchanged for eleven straight months, from June 2018 through May 2019, making it the longest static period for the rate on record.
Gallup also reminds us that 67% of US employees are disengaged at work, with 51% actively looking for a new job, or at least open to the possibility. So what does a company do to mitigate against a mass exodus of its employees?
Employee experience matters
Gallup partner Ken Royal summed it up best when he states, “It’s better to keep a star than hire a question mark.” Many times, it’s not necessarily money that drives a person to jump ship and start over with a new company. It’s the experience they have, or lack thereof, at their current place of employment.
For example, someone who wants the freedom to work remotely, but is currently employed at a place that requires sitting in a cubicle all day, may be tempted to move on to a company that offers the freedom that worker seeks, even if it’s for the same basic level of compensation. In this case, it’s not at all about the money, it’s about the experience.
Workers of today want to feel engaged, as if they are doing something meaningful and productive. They do not want to plow through the week checking task boxes. The power of purpose is huge. Workers will rally to accomplish things beyond their normal abilities when they feel connected to the purpose. When purpose doesn’t exist, work becomes nothing more than a series of tasks to complete in a period of time before leaving for the weekend.
Purpose is important, yet it’s only part of the overall, bigger picture. Company culture ties into this to some degree. If people feel connected to their coworkers, they feel a moral obligation to perform at a certain level to support their friends. Simply put, they do not want to let their friends down. Workplaces that encourage personal connections between workers are more likely to create a connected workforce that has each other’s backs and works better together. Company outings and happy hours are great examples of workers connecting outside the work setting.
Coaches, not bosses
Today’s worker doesn’t want a boss, instead they want a coach. They will rally around, and steadfastly support, this person if the manager acts as a coach and resource. Employees look to the manager to play a key role in developing the employee’s skills. But the days of a dictatorial leader sitting behind the big desk barking orders at subordinates are long past. People simply don’t respond to that anymore because they have a choice to work in situations that are much less unpleasant. Today workers have choices.
Part of the new employee/manager relationship relates to having regular conversations, instead of sporadic performance reviews. The goal is to have enough conversations all along the way that when the official yearly review occurs, there are no surprises, making the review nothing more than a formality.
When it comes to setting goals, employees who are personally involved in setting goals are nearly four times more likely to be engaged than other employees. It only makes sense. If the employee is involved on the front end, they have skin in the game and have a real meaning to accomplish the goals.
Development is vital
Employees of today want to develop skills that they can use now and in the future. They want to learn and improve, and expect their manager and organization to give them opportunities to do just that.
Development needs to focus on the entirety of the individual, not just work-related concerns. This includes allowing the employee to develop in areas that may not necessarily be directly tied to the job role, but that the employee finds important in life. Maintaining this focus gives the employee balance which reduces stress on the job. Examples are limitless and may include anything from taking a typing class to developing healthy eating or exercise habits that can benefit the employee both on and off the job.
When employees are continuously growing, they are encouraged and engaged. The key is to continue to create opportunities to make positive progress in any area which the employee considers to be important. It’s all about creating a work/life balance.
The bigger picture
For generations, people divided their lives into two, distinct things - work and play. It’s no longer so black and white anymore. People view their job as part of their overall life, but it’s not the be all, end all that it was to workers of previous generations. The emphasis, first and foremost, is on having a happy, satisfying life. The job needs to fit into that overall framework. If the job doesn’t play into that happiness, you can rest assured your employees will be looking elsewhere for a more purposeful, satisfying opportunity, where they can develop and feel a part of something bigger, preferably surrounded by people they truly consider friends. 2.3% of the workforce are doing it right now.