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Kick the Quit: Why Work Isn’t Working and What to Do About It

Updated: Mar 30

The Great Resignation. The Talent Tsunami. Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the speck of sand in our eyes – it stings, it’s anxiety-inducing, and it’s become impossible to ignore. We knew this moment was coming. For decades, government leaders and demographers warned organizations to plan for the Baby Boomer retirement wave. For the past 20 years, Gallup has reported high, unyielding rates of employee disengagement. Then the turnover rate among young professionals hit a historic high and retaining talent was cited as the top management challenge globally. Work hasn’t been working for a while now. The pandemic made an already miserable and fleeting workforce rethink their career and life trajectories and take action. As a result, a record-breaking 11.5 million workers quit their jobs within a three-month time span – April-June 2021. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Studies indicate several thousand more workers are likely to jump ship within the next 3-6 months. It took time to get into this mess, and it’s going to take time to get ourselves out of it. Best to start working on work immediately.

To engage people is to understand them, and that can only come from time spent in a relationship with them.

As with any crisis, addressing the situation is best achieved once one understands what is causing it. I’ve spent the past two decades researching workforce engagement trends and it all comes down to three undeniable truths:

  1. We inherited institutions designed for the 20th century, which are unable to cope with the mounting pressures of constant change and disruption in the 21st century.

  2. When leaders fear change and struggle to be open to new ideas, technologies, or people, employees immediately disengage.

  3. Appreciation, respect, care, trust, and a sense of teamwork and belonging are considerably more influential in an employee’s decision to engage than compensation, benefits, or workplace perks.

Employees are more unhappy and more likely to leave because many leaders and organizations remain stuck in the past, or otherwise actively discouraging the participation and passion of their teams.

To put it in even simpler terms, work isn’t working because we failed to collaborate.

Many leadership teams held steadfast to hierarchical management models, growing ever distant to the changing needs of their teams and oblivious to rapidly-changing market shifts. As simple as it sounds, a critical but often overlooked step is to find ways to bring new voices to the table. The only way to engage people is to understand them, and that can only come from time spent in a relationship with them. Then, and only then, will work work.

If your organization needs a helping hand to make these strategies a reality, contact us.

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