“Treat employees like they make a difference and they will” - Jim Goodnight, SAS CEO

 

We are often so focused on outcomes that we forget to thank those who help us along the way. This oversight may not be intentional, but it can lead to profound disappointment and real resentment. In the workplace, failure to applaud the achievements of employees can result in reduced productivity - or worse, it can cause talent to walk out the door. Simple appreciation might just prove to be one of the most critical factors in reversing the so-called ‘Great Resignation’ ravaging workplaces across America and the world.


If you thought you knew your employees and what made them tick, think again. The pandemic has brought about a tremendous shift in personal priorities. Motivation is no longer just about the next pay check - quality of life has risen to the top of the list, in large part because this global medical emergency has made people more aware of their mortality and what really matters. If their work feels at best meaningless and at worst utterly unpleasant, chances are they won’t stick around.


So what steps can you take to improve retention and attract talent?


Respect and honor ALL of your people

Your employees need to know that they are valued, regardless of their position in the work ecosystem. When leaders develop the habit of ignoring their staff, or relentlessly pushing them using bullying tactics, or failing to acknowledge a job well done, this kind of toxic culture has a trickle-down effect: all levels of management will emulate your behavior with those further down the ladder. The ultimate repercussion of this kind of work environment is often resignation. You can’t take people for granted or treat them unfairly and expect them to have any loyalty to you or your brand.

 

Provide and encourage consistent feedback

Everyone wants to know how they are doing in their job. Leaders who fail to give positive or constructive feedback about the progress of employees create a dangerous disconnect. Not only will employees fail to improve, but their performance will inevitably decline. What’s more, they’ll negatively impact everyone they interact with, from coworkers to customers. Apart from giving feedback, it’s equally vital to be open to it. Encourage two-way communication and act on what employees are telling you. More now than ever before, listening to your people is an essential management skill.  

 

Build a culture of engagement

According to a Gallup poll, it only takes the offer of a 20% wage hike from a competitor to lure talent away. But employees that feel disengaged, emotionally disconnected, or under-recognized don’t even need a pay rise to bolt. 66% of employees say they will resign simply due to lack of recognition; it is, therefore, of paramount importance that a structure is in place to value, recognize, and reward the contributions of every employee. This policy could dramatically reverse the trend of employee resignations and forge healthy long-term relationships between employees and leaders.

 

Develop a gratitude routine for everyone

Gratitude is not just for leaders to express to their employees. When coworkers appreciate one another, they work better and are more productive. It can’t be overstated how important it is to have a workforce that feels respected and valued. Glassdoor revealed that 81% of employees stay motivated and work harder when appreciated; and that 58% of employees and job seekers say company culture trumps salary when it comes to job satisfaction. Additionally, feeling valued boosts loyalty, engagement, and retention in the company.


Conclusion

The Great Resignation, or reset, or reshuffling, whichever you decide to call it, has actually been bubbling under the surface for a long time. The pandemic only made it more visible. Reversing the tide will take more than words; it needs actions that give workers a sense of belonging, purpose, and appreciation.


Charles Schwab could not have put it any better when he said: "The way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement."