Employers often claim that their employees are their greatest asset. Although admirable, this sentiment can easily become superficial or expressed only to encourage recruitment. Overall, turnover among U.S. workers has gradually increased over the past two decades. More recently, resignation rates have jumped to an all-time high. Experts attribute this mass departure to the overall stress and job dissatisfaction amongst personnel exacerbated by a worldwide pandemic.
What Caused the Recent Great Resignation?
The sudden onset of a global pandemic motivated today’s workforce to reconsider their priorities, both at home and at work. Economists expect this trend to continue through 2022 across most industries as workers continue to recognize their worth and demand better treatment.
Put simply, workers are the unhappiest and most understimulated they’ve ever been. They’ve had enough, and they’re holding employers accountable.
“’The Great Resignation’ is really the ‘Great Discontent,’ it’s not an industry, role, or pay issue. It’s a workplace issue – because the highest quit rate is among not engaged and actively disengaged workers.” – Study by Gallup, a global analytics firm.
Discontent at work is among the most common reasons for the sudden surge in quitting. A Pew Research Center survey found that the top reasons why Americans quit their job last year are as follows:
- Pay is too low (63%)
- No opportunities for advancement (63%)
- Feeling disrespected at work (57%)
- Not enough schedule flexibility (45%)
- Benefits weren’t good (43%)
The answer to avoiding the next Great Resignation (at least within each company) seems as simple as appealing to these priorities. But how can business owners honor these wishes while maintaining a productive work environment?
How to Avoid the Next Great Resignation Within Your Business
Individual business owners aren’t responsible for the collective mental state of the job market. However, leaders can set a healthy foundation for employee emotional well being within their workplace by considering the following initiatives:
(1) Allow for Schedule Flexibility
After the onset of the pandemic, many businesses had to reconsider staff schedules to account for isolation procedures, quarantine, social distancing, and mask mandates. However, leadership best practices include regularly assessing the needs and lifestyles of employees.
For example, when these mandates started, the leadership team at Forge Apollo promptly developed an improvised WFH order, while focusing on both employee morale and company productivity. Currently, we operate on a hybrid schedule, working in the office one day a week and at home for the remaining four days. Fluid work hours, streamlined time tracking, and summer Fridays (half days on Fridays from Memorial Day until Labor Day) provide Forge’s workers with the calendar flexibility necessary in these unprecedented times.
Although COVID caused required remote work orders for many companies, several large corporations made these schedule changes permanent, including Google, Twitter, Slack, and Dropbox.
Obviously, some professions require rigid or constantly-changing calendars and on-site operations (such as medical professionals, first responders, trade professionals, and other “essential” workers). For such positions, it’s important to remember that the people performing these jobs are just that – people. They deserve autonomy over their schedules to a degree. Encourage staff members to voice conflicts and concerns with their work schedules and be allowed to discuss them to suit both individual and company needs.
(2) Provide Healthcare Coverage & Resources
Sufficient health insurance and coverage far exceed physical ailments. Companies that sacrifice and compromise basic human welfare needs for profits will increase stress among their employees.
Business leaders should invest in better health insurance because:
- Healthy, happy employees use fewer sick days
- Better mental health increases morale and productivity amongst staff members (A study from MetLife found that 60% of employers say offering health insurance has led to higher productivity levels.)
- Employee turnover decreases (A survey of U.S. workers by Willis Towers Watson found that 55 percent of worker respondents considered the health benefits they were offered a good reason to keep working for their employer)
- Number of applicants increases (In a survey by Glassdoor, employees said health insurance is, by far, the most important benefit they receive from their employer.)
- It fosters a community that focuses on wellbeing
- It shows employees that their employer cares about them
In the United States, receipt of health insurance often relies on employment status. So, fulfillment of any treatment needs, medical or otherwise (dental care, mental health services, prescriptions) is the employer’s obligation.
(3) Prioritize Staff Well-Being (Including Business Leaders)
Staff well-being begins at the top. Dissatisfied and frustrated leaders inevitably breed a tense work environment, causing angst and uncertainty among employees. In the continuous effort to ease the minds of their subordinates, especially in the wake of the pandemic, many business leaders overlook their own emotional welfare.
“Bupa reported that 78 percent of business leaders have experienced poor mental health during the pandemic. It’s important for organizations that leaders are self-aware and able to invest in their own mental health to create open, honest, and non-judgemental workplace cultures.” – Elaine Carnegie, Workplace Insight.
Despite the stereotype that those in leadership roles must always remain unwaveringly strong, transparency and honesty regarding their own struggles and stressors are essential to a supportive atmosphere at work. This extended self-compassion almost always results in a non-judgemental workplace culture ripple effect.
(4) Adequately & Fairly Compensate Employees
Inflation naturally causes costs to rise. COVID-19 only amplified this increase. Despite the federal minimum wage remaining at $7.25 for over a decade, prices continue to climb for almost every necessity.
When employees have to worry about getting their basic needs met, how can they prioritize work performance?
Ensuring you pay your employees what they deserve and need to survive should be a standard requirement of any employer. Still, almost 80% of Americans believe they are underpaid in their jobs. In a country where the average CEO compensation is 320 times more than their typical workers, business leaders may want to consider a personal pay cut for the sake of their staff.
(5) Openly Address Stigmas & Encourage Conversation
Ending the negative stigma surrounding mental health disorders requires more than claiming the workplace is a safe space. To establish the work environment as a nonjudgmental place for those struggling, encourage colleagues to open up to each other regarding personal stressors and difficulties. The knowledge that someone is listening is often enough to drive the affected person to confide in receptive coworkers.
By providing adequate opportunities for employees to be transparent with one another and platforms for conversation, employers prevent the spread of misinformation and set a healthy tone for honest and sensitive company culture. Leadership teams are responsible for more than just business needs – they must also focus on the individual needs of their staff to encourage equity within the workplace. In order to fully understand the emotional needs of staff members, leaders can hold regular one-on-one meetings with employees, ask for feedback through anonymous surveys, or schedule regular team building sessions.
Work with an Agency that Treats Clients, Employees, and Partners Alike with the Utmost Respect
Forge Apollo is more than a marketing agency. Yes, we’re a professional team of strategists and content creators whose aim is to elevate brands. But the valued companies we work with are not just our clients – they’re lifelong friends that we truly care about.
We understand the pressure and stress that comes with an albeit rewarding career, and we use our resources to inspire and uplift viewers by showcasing high-quality, meaningful work. However, the only way to guarantee any productivity is by prioritizing the well-being of our treasured employees.
In our recent video short for Mental Health Awareness Month, Forge Apollo asked its team to share their tips on maintaining their mental health in a hybrid work environment. This initiative has shown us that together we can create a receptive, mindful workspace that spans any distance, remote or otherwise.