According to a new survey released by TinyPulse, 1 in 5 executive leaders agree with this statement: “No one wants to work”. These same leaders cite a “lack of response to job postings” and “poor quality candidates” when describing why it’s hard to hire right now. A Gallup poll says that dismal employee engagement is a sign of global mismanagement, noting that 86% of employees are actively disengaged at work. While employers are struggling and frustrated, the hustle culture is growing exponentially. Fiverr.com, the website for gig workers, reported a 30% increase in the number of active buyers last year, versus pandemic-punched 2020. The company’s overall revenues grew 42%, strengthened by the exodus into the gig economy. Maybe people don’t want to work. But the really troubling tale inside these statistics is: maybe people don’t want to work for you.
Against a backdrop of greater personal freedom, supports for vaccine mandates is growing. A majority of HR leaders (55%) in the same Tinypulse survey cited greater encouragement for vaccines, up 7% over last quarter. HR leaders supporting a vaccine mandate rose to 68%, versus just 56% in the previous quarter. For non-HR respondents, support for vaccine mandates was significantly higher, at 74%.
Employee Engagement: It’s Not All About the Virus
But the Great Resignation isn’t based on the vaccine. Retention (and corporate culture) needs a different shot in the arm. Workers have more economic options than ever before. More choices and fewer employees: What can leaders do to maintain a high-performance culture?
While the pandemic has changed the world of work, some things for workers remain a constant. The need for relationships has never been greater. And meaningful relationships – where employees are heard, listened to and understood – are the foundation of retention. Fostering those relationships can often happen around common interests that don’t necessarily have to do with the company’s bottom line.
The Real Reason People Are Leaving
It’s no secret that people leave people, not organizations. If you want to create a culture that retains talent, consider how building peer-to-peer relationships can foster greater connection, collaboration, and engagement. Caitlin Porter, a professor at the University of Houston, says that “Giving people an opportunity to build their relationships could help with retention.” In fact, in this survey authored by Porter and her colleagues, getting co-workers to network with each other reduces the likelihood of turnover by 140%.
Aisha Suleiman is the Founder of the Inclusive Culture, a London-based initiative helping organizations to achieve diversity, inclusion and business goals. “When you look at why people are resigning, and the reasons behind the Great Resignation, it’s because people don’t feel a sense of belonging at work.” Investing in a sense of belonging, Suleiman says, can pay big dividends.
What is an ERG?
Employers are turning to ERG (Employee Resource Groups), like the one Suleiman created for Amazon UK – the first of its kind outside of the US. Employee Resource Groups, also called Affinity Groups, provide a connection point around a common interest, shared lifestyle, or heritage. These groups celebrate diversity, and provide a connection point outside of the company’s profit and loss statement. However, Suleiman says, the ERG connection drives retention – and directly impacts the bottom line.
“There are some things you can’t discuss with your manager, but having an affinity group can provide an outlet for new ideas,” Suleiman says, from her home office in London. Providing a space for diversity, inclusion and belonging isn’t just the right thing to do, Suleiman shares. It’s good for business.
Disconnection: Taking Deliberate Action
Indeed, without clear connections, retention will suffer. Creating the future of work means including all viewpoints, for one simple reason: none of us is as smart as all of us. If workers are disenfranchised, for any reason, your mission statement doesn’t matter. “Leaders have to recognize that they’ve hopefully hired people who are intelligent and competent, and trust in that process – trust in their people.” ERG groups can also provide leadership opportunities for career advancement. “I was an individual contributor at Amazon, but I took on a leadership role within my ERG group,” Suleiman recalls. “I was able to supervise others and create a grass-roots initiative – something I wasn’t able to do in my day job.”
What kinds of ERG groups could help your organization to drive greater retention? In this working-from-home world, physical water-cooler conversations may be as scarce as a unicorn’s eyelash. The companies that will succeed during the Great Resignation are the ones who recognize the importance of connection, especially in our disconnected world. Because providing deliberate pathways for common bonds is the first step in creating uncommon results.