At the end of 2021, many people hoped we would be able to “return to normal” in the new year. Now that we are 6 weeks into 2022, we find that there is more volatility and uncertainty in this new year. Not only are we seeing a rise in new COVID variants, we now have a massive war on talent. Quit rates are at an all-time high. This Great Resignation has every company leader rethinking their talent strategy — at least if they are paying attention and are interested in remaining competitive. We are again at a unique juncture, a moment in history, where we can rethink.
First, let’s understand what is behind the Great Resignation. In their recent Harvard Business Review article, Frank Breitling, Julia Dhar, Ruth Ebeling and Deborah Lovich observe, “There is a widening mismatch between the job environment employees want — and now expect — and the one their organizations have. This may explain why so many workers have been quitting their jobs and why companies are having trouble filling the millions of current openings across the U.S. economy.”
So, what do employees want? Simply put, people want to be appreciated, empowered and have autonomy to do work in a way that fits them. Yet, the traditional way of showing appreciation – bonus / money – doesn’t seem to work. While paying a bonus certainly doesn’t hurt, it doesn’t treat the core problem. A lot of employees are burned out and want to leave their companies. The traditional transactional approach (more money, more perks) alone is not the right answer. Then, what do company leaders need to do to attract and retain talent?
I suggest we ask ourselves these questions: What is causing people to burn out? Why are people not feeling appreciated? What does it mean to empower people? The common thread is leadership. This is not about some talent strategy, this is about how leaders lead people. We need to rethink how leadership should work.
In this new world of work, leadership needs to be inclusive, transformational, conscious, collaborative, and humane. It also needs to be fair, effective and impactful. Leadership and work need to be decoupled from money, power, and dominance. It must be a vehicle by which organizations and their workers can contribute to building a brighter and more sustainable future for everyone. Command-and-control hero leaders have no place in the present or the future. To re-engineer what leadership is, we need to listen to our people, our customers, one another and learn from lessons in the past. In short, leaders in the new world of work (or I’d like to call them the 21st century leaders) need to put people first and business second.
Next time, I’ll go into more detail about what that entails. In the meantime, do you have challenges in attracting and retaining talents? Or are you thinking of leaving your company? Share with me by typing in the comment below. I’d love to hear about your experiences.