The Great Resignation or the Great Search for More?

People are looking for a lot more than a paycheck.  Economists, politicians and anyone who employs people have experienced the hiring issues and coined them as “The Great Resignation.”  It sounds a little mysterious.  I began to dig a little deeper into why this is happening.  The modern employee is looking for more than just competitive wages and benefits.  As a trial-and-error guy I am accustomed to regular failure and have stumbled upon a few ideas worth sharing.

Meaningful work has become more important to people.  After watching so many lives lost the whole existential thing starts coming up.  Why are we on this earth?  What purpose will my work serve and how will I make the world a slightly better place for me and those around me?  My coworkers and I share the desire to help others.  If you are asking that question as you sit in a call center as a debt collections specialist and you work from home collecting unpaid debts for low wages, I could see leaving your job.  As an employer I make sure to point out the impact of the work that my team does.  I do this in our team meetings regularly.  My coworkers will also mention when emotional meetings “fill their bucket.”  There is not one role in my organization without meaningful communication with those we serve.  I think it is extremely important for people to see the good their work does firsthand.  This way they know they are doing meaningful work.  My employees have been on the calls and in the meetings as clients cry with gratitude.  I also hang all the thank you cards, and kind notes we get from clients on a wall in the copy room to remind people of the meaningful work we do.

Connection with coworkers is something that can create a special culture for a business.  We have been a divided humanity with COVID quarantines.  As many companies go to the remote work environment, the camaraderie of the office is going to the wayside.  The economics of this are very appealing for employers and employees alike.  You mean we don’t need to pay the high prices to have workspace for everyone and we don’t have to sit in unproductive rush hour traffic for each way?  That is a no-brainer.  Or is it?  The impact of the office connection and culture is important in a way that is often overlooked.  Your connection with others is the magic and the friction births new ideas and cool new ways of doing things.  Working from your screen remotely does not create that same magic through connection.  It does not allow for that connection that is needed for some to feel their work matters.  Connection is more difficult to create in a remote work environment in my opinion.  Sometimes it is difficult to build a culture that fosters connection.  We start morning meetings in our office with a conversation starter as well as a jeopardy question.  It is not meant to be productive; it is meant to connect, and it seems to work.

People want to feel appreciated.  Some people even say that employees expect to be coddled.  Remember complaining about “people these days” will not fill the job openings or help hire.   The people we serve speak with my coworker’s way more than they speak with me.   Do you think I would make them feel unappreciated?  My experience points to two approaches business owners take when hiring people.  The first approach is that the owner puts food on their employees’ tables.  The second is that the employees put food on their owner’s table.  These two approaches sound so similar and yet are so very different.  I choose to look at my employees as putting food on my family’s table because I believe that they do.   In making that choice my values are kept in perspective.  This simple mindset shift is impactful in my organization.   I am grateful for being able to serve alongside my coworkers. 

If you have employees and have not given raises since before COVID, you are likely to be hiring soon.  Another tip is to be sure you are keeping up with the times.  Wages have risen for most careers along with inflation.  Starting wages for many professions have also skyrocketed.  If you are paying less than starting wages still for a seasoned employee, go give them a raise.  Don’t make them ask for it.  You will receive a higher return on investment with that employee than you will starting over with someone who is new to your office.

One way to show your employees you care is using great benefits.  I know they can be expensive.  They are a way to really stand out among a crowded sea of employers recruiting a small number of job seekers.  Great health insurance coverage and paying more than the mandatory minimum are a financial way to show that you care.   It also builds loyalty with family members by extending great coverage to them as well.  If you want to show me love, be nice to my children.  They are a couple of my favorite people.  A retirement plan is a way to love your coworkers as well.  It is a way to show them that you care about them beyond their time at your company.  Long term employees expect benefits and most of the time they are also the employees you want.

Next time you hear someone mention the great resignation, listen to what they have to say.  Are they still trying to hire people like they have done for the past 30 years?  Would you want to work for that person?  I think the modern employee is looking for more.  As for me, I am going to keep trying to give it to them. 

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