What will the Great Resignation bring for January 2022?

How companies are using the reprieve of November and December to prepare for looming January.

The holidays are approaching.  Historically, a time synonymous with gift shopping, holiday parties, and time with friends and family, this year HR professionals are celebrating a two-month break from months of steadily exiting employees.  November and December are traditionally lower voluntary turnover months whereas the following January traditionally higher.  Although many HR professionals will choose to embrace the much needed (and quite frankly, deserved) break from the grind brought about by the “Great Resignation”, many are instead using this time to implement employee retention strategies.  A recent 2021 survey sheds light on long and short-term retention strategies that work.

Co-create workplace culture to ensure flexibility.

38% of employees surveyed plan to look for a new job before the summer of 2022.  An especially alarming statistic for many HR and talent leaders considering a separate 2021 survey shows 69% of employers report difficulty in filling currently open positions.  30% of those intending to leave their jobs cite wanting more flexibility as their primary reason for looking, making flexibility the #1 reason to seek out new employment, surpassing common leading reasons – higher salary and dissatisfaction with management.  As talent teams agonize over the complexities of employee experience design, this call for flexibility suggests perhaps we’re looking to the wrong people to solve workplace problems.  Rather than theorizing and convincing employees to buy into our solutions this and other workplace challenges, why not instead empower employees and teams to identify and create solutions?  While we tend to believe it’s the highly connected, collaborative teams that effectively solve complex problems, we at Culture Engineered have actually found it to be the reverse.  Problem solving, as a team, drives connection and collaboration.  Co-creative cultures work because of this principle.  Co-created cultures empower employees and teams to identify and solve for external and internal challenges.  Because problem solving as a team, and on a larger scale, co-creating, is also associated with higher employee retention, and greater innovation and creativity, it poses as the one stone for the two problematic birds – employee desire for flexibility and increased employee retention.

Promote a culture of gratitude.

How often are leaders thanking employees for their contributions?  Although much about the workplace has changed during the pandemic, the power of thanks on employee retention remains the same.  It turns out two little words, thank you, have a big impact on retention.  49% of those planning to leave their jobs indicate they have not been thanked for their work contributions in the last month compared to only 26% of those intending to leave recall being thanked in the last 30 days.  2021 survey results combined with those of previous studies suggest employee appreciation, as an employee retention strategy, needs to meet three criteria to be effective:

  • Make it count. While 52% of all surveyed workers recall giving thanks to a coworker in the last month, only 34% recall receiving thanks suggesting 18% failed to either recognize or remember being thanked.  The best appreciation is specific and done with intention (ie, pulling someone aside or calling someone to say thanks) making it memorable and meaningful.
  • Give thanks frequently. Weekly or even daily messages of thanks have shown to impact an employee’s experience and satisfaction significantly. Leaders expressing gratitude when it’s more predictable (annual reviews or Employee Appreciation Day) see less benefits.
  • Encourage thanks from every level. Thanks from a direct manager has the most value.  But it’s workplaces creating an entire culture of gratitude, enabling kudos and shout outs from all levels and persons within the company (executives, peers, customers, etc) see the biggest impact.

Create an environment where people are seen and heard.

Project Aristotle, a multi-year Google study, was designed to identify why some teams fail while others strive.  Findings revealed psychological safety, a team’s collective belief that members are safe to take risks and be vulnerable with each other, to be the #1 factor in team success.  Because psychological safety relies on the trust within teams and the willingness of team members to be authentic, psychologically safe environments embolden individuals to see and hear each other.  Not only do people perform better in these environments, they turnover less.  When we fail to feel seen or heard, we feel invisible and excluded.  It’s easier to leave places we believe don’t want us.  An employee feeling connected with a team that sees and hears them is less likely to return a recruiter’s call, or peruse job openings.

There are 45 US working days this November and December.  The quiet before the stormy mass exodus many predict January 2022 will bring.  Although 45 days is not much time, it is a critical time.  Holidays can be especially difficult and lonely for many, particularly with the pandemic.   Forty-five 8-hour days spent in a humancentric, inviting workplace is no doubt a welcomed change for most US workers.  While not every resignation can be prevented, each workplace must distinguish the employee experience key to hiring and retaining those essential for their business.  If not now, when?  

Is your team struggling with affiliative disconnect?

What is affiliative disconnect?

Have you ever been in a room, surrounded by people, only to still feel lonely?  According to Cigna research, 61% of the people in that room with you likely felt the same way.  This is because loneliness different from togetherness because it’s irrespective of the physical presence of others, occurring when we lack the feeling of meaningful connection with others.  Affiliative disconnect is a feeling of isolation or loneliness that develops collectively within a team, despite being part of a group.  While affiliative disconnect, like loneliness, may be hard to see, the symptoms are clear and can derail even the strongest of companies if not addressed.

Is your team struggling with affiliative disconnect?

Teams experiencing affiliative disconnect left unaddressed will eventually turn toxic.  The key is detecting signs of team affiliative disconnect early. Some of the most commonly observed warning signs include:

  • Higher than normal turnover (particularly high turnover with new hires – less than 90 days of employment).
  • Increased/high absenteeism.
  • Poor team performance (particularly with customer-facing roles such as sales or customer service).
  • Distrustful behaviors within the team such as passive aggressive comments, finger-pointing, hostility, and/or intentionally withholding information.
  • A lack of interaction or camaraderie among team members. In more extreme situations, team members will often know very little about one another, despite having worked together for a significant period of time.

How to (re)ignite connection within your team.

As social creatures, we as humans take to high connection interactions like fish to water.  Even individuals and teams that have survived for extended periods of time without meaningful connection are highly resilient.  Here are three basic ways every leader can take to help restore connections within their team:

#1 – Make individual wellbeing the priority, for the team.

It’s an unfortunate truth that hurt people, hurt people.  Although not quite as catchy, the same concept works conversely.  Individuals with a healthier sense of wellbeing when working together, tend to make better teams, associated with higher job satisfaction, better company stock performance, improved productivity and customer loyalty, and reduced turnover.  Research shows lonely workers are less productive and more frequently sick which can wreak havoc on any business.  More importantly however, people with poor mental health and wellbeing were three to six times more likely to report frequent loneliness.  Because research has also found a lonely person can transmit loneliness to others, wellbeing offers a solution to prevent the harm caused by loneliness in our workplaces and communities.

#2 – Encourage and recognize supportive behaviors within the team.

There is a popular legend of unknown origin, often attributed to the Cherokee or Lenape people, that begins with a grandfather telling his grandson of a battle of two wolves going on inside him.  The grandfather describes one wolf as evil – driven by anger, jealousy, and ego, and the other good – motivated by love, generosity, and compassion.  When asked by his grandson which wolf will win, the grandfather responds, the one you feed.  This same battle happening within each one of us individually is also happening within our teams.  When we recognize the supportive, prosocial, behaviors that are foundational to collaboration and communication within teams, we are feeding the good wolf.  Because recognition has been shown to affect two areas of the brain:  1) our hypothalamus, the part of our body responsible for regulating many of the body’s key processes, such as heart rate and body temperature, and 2) our dopamine receptors which receive dopamine, the chemical that affects mood, sleep, memory, learning, and concentration, recognition has been shown to have tangible benefits on a team and virtuous benefits on individuals.

#3 – Co-create team culture.

Historically, culture was often something defined by a few leaders, perhaps with the help of outside consultants or HR, and distributed in a top-down fashion.  More recently however, with growing appreciation and value for diversity and inclusivity, we’re realizing the previously one-to-many approach is far surpassed by the approach of many-to-many.  It’s only when environments are inclusive, engaging the voices thoughts, and talents of diverse groups, that communities thrive.  A co-creative workplace culture not only embraces but implores feedback and transparency.  With the development of our newest tool, TeamEthos.io, it was the introduction of the team notifications, informing team members of how the team was doing that day and what each person can support one another in the moment, that we saw the biggest shift in team connection and success.  Empowering a team to identify and solve for challenges within a process or system can be a great first step toward building psychological safety and collaboration, the foundation of any co-creative, highly connected culture.

 

Affiliative disconnect isn’t the sickness.  It’s a warning sign that the health of your team is in jeopardy.  The danger comes only from ignoring it.  It’s taken the Covid pandemic to reveal another potentially harmful pandemic we’re all susceptible to, loneliness.  Not everyone comes from a healthy family environment.  Many struggle to create a healthy network of friends.  But most of us, in our lifetimes will need to work.  What if we, as leaders, make work the safe space we intentionally create meaningful connection?

Combat the disconnect plaguing your team and company with TeamEthos.io.  Click here for a two-week free trial!