3 Company Culture Takeaways Amidst the Great Business Resignation

3 Company Culture Takeaways Amidst the Great Business Resignation

For the first time in decades, there are 1.5 jobs open for every unemployed American. Any other time in modern workplace history, all employers had to do was post a position or put a Help Wanted sign in the window and wait comfortably as the applications trickled in effortlessly. The Great Resignation is changing everything we know about hiring. Meanwhile, it’s crashing into an unprecedented talent shortage, all amidst a barrage of baby boomer retirements. A team at MIT recently poured through the endless data to nail down the prime catalysts behind the Great Resignation, i.e., why employees leaving in droves is the new normal. Some of these findings might surprise you. 

Because compensation is rising as employers compete to recruit and retain quality talent, among a mix of concerns including job security, lack of employee recognition, and a poor response to Covid-19, the #1 reason respondents are calling it quits is toxic company culture. 

The authors share that a toxic corporate culture is “by far the strongest predictor of industry-adjusted attrition and is 10x more important than compensation in predicting turnover.” Let’s define toxic here for clarity—“failure to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion; workers feeling disrespected: and unethical behavior.”

Last week, Axios published an article with alarming projections—prophesizing a “Forever Jobs Crisis.” Employers must refine their hiring brands and approaches and company cultures. That’s because the workforce is actively, well, shrinking. The workforce is only predicted to grow 4% this decade, compared with the 1970s at 30% or the 2000s at 9%. So, what’s the math behind these numbers?

Boomers are retiring in droves; millennials are on the cusp of middle age, and Gen Z—right behind them—is small by comparison. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the American labor force is expected to increase by a mere 0.2% a year from 2024 to 2031. And while the pandemic and new age of remote work have changed how professionals work and their value systems—the days of glorifying hustle culture are fading out of the job market. Instead, company values, culture, and work-life balance, those words we’ve been reading think pieces about for decades without much corporate action, are more than buzz words, and they’re the foundation for a new workers’ movement forward.

The “Forever Jobs Crisis” is unwelcome news, but there are some silver linings. Employers who act now and refine their approach can minimize the expense of turnover and the crushing impact it can have on your business operations and customer experience.

Turnover is expensive and can be devastating to small-and-medium-sized businesses. That’s why it’s so crucial to building a company culture committed to retention while keeping recruitment efforts focused on long-term hiring strategies. These best practices can help create a resilient company culture:

1. Keep developing your people—and their managers.

It’s vital to offer your employees continuing education opportunities. Pay for them to earn certifications or advancements to bring more capabilities into their roles and resumes. Bring in industry thought leaders to share on innovation and best practices. Offer tuition reimbursement so employees can advance—at your organization. Ensure your IT group regularly conducts hands-on Zoom training on the latest technologies you roll out. 

Why? In that MIT study, respondents ranked high levels of innovation as the third most significant reason for leaving a company. The authors found “the more positively employees talked about innovation at their company, the more likely they were to quit.” Innovating can be tricky. While the latest innovations can be compelling, they can fuel burnout or cause even the most capable associates to feel overwhelmed. It’s mission-critical to show the why behind the technology, how it will help them in their roles, and alleviate concerns with thorough training from your IT group or an outside consultant.

Historically, “employees leave bad managers, not jobs.” While focusing on investing in educating and advancing all your employees is critical, there’s probably nothing more important than regular leadership training for people managers. Being a phenomenal manager isn’t always something that comes naturally. It’s essential that your entire management team understands expectations for their tenor and approach to team members to be in lockstep with your company values and empower a remarkable company culture. Beyond sensitivity and harassment training, your organization should dedicate a leadership program each year or create a mentorship program to help more junior managers learn from senior executives with the lowest turnover levels and help even those at the top of the leadership team learn from outside consultants. The way we work and how we approach diversity and different generations are constantly in flux.

2. Listen to all employee feedback—especially where there’s room for improvement.

Soliciting feedback from your associates is critical to showing you care about their work experience and that you’re looking to continue refining a positive company culture. That means sending out a quarterly survey to all your employees to see what they’d like you to stop doing, start doing and continue. Sending the survey isn’t enough. You must address and act on those findings when there are trends amongst requests. Update employees promptly on what you’ve found and how you plan to act. If you keep taking employee feedback and not actioning on the trends, then whether you want to or not, those employee surveys will seem empty and ceremonial. Something more frustrating than not being asked for feedback in the first place.

Ensure you conduct exit interviews without managers present with all team members before their departure. Present it to them to help you continually improve the organization. Explain that you value their thoughts, and your leadership team is dedicated to retaining top talent like them in the future. Break down how their direct input can help the business and company culture. Invite openness. 

Lastly, keep track of your GlassDoor and Indeed job reviews online. While it may not be at the top of your list, it’s vital to respond to every review, even those scary-scathing ones. For more inflammatory or intense reviews, you can direct them to get in touch with your HR department to share more details. Reply to recurring themes in reviews like a lack of work-life balance or clear priorities by thanking them for their feedback, acknowledging that those areas are priorities for your organization, and addressing that you’re actively working to improve. 

Love it or hate it. Your employee reviews are your employment brand. Listening to employee feedback and inviting it is a great way to get honest feedback upfront and tackle it before situations and tensions escalate with permanent damage to your brand online. Don’t ever write someone off as just another “disgruntled employee,” especially when there’s a trend.

3. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

It’s mission-critical to keep your associates in the loop whenever organizational changes occur—addressing the why and if and how it will impact their role helps prevent employees from looking elsewhere due to uncertainty about job security or innovation fatigue. Be transparent and ready to dialogue about oncoming changes instead of just speaking at associates. Take questions and give answers whenever possible.

Keep remote workers connected by integrating virtual mixers and lunches into their workdays to build meaningful relationships. Employees are much more likely to stay at a company when they have a work friend or two. Ensure all managers have regular one-on-one meetings with their team members to personally acknowledge their achievements, help with growing pains, and ask for any feedback that can help them do their jobs better.

Be open and ready to adapt.

Above all else, the resounding theme here is to remain flexible and open to your employee feedback and ready to respond in meaningful ways. Actions speak loudest. The days of drinking the company Kool-Aid have been replaced by values like inclusion, recognition, respect, work-life balance, and professional and personal boundaries.

Ready to refine your hiring strategy?

At Staffing Strong, our growing talent network and expert recruiting best practices are more than two decades in the making. Our talent experts are fluent in the current talent market challenges and parlay them into some serious advantages. Let’s connect to discuss your hiring goals.

Meet the Author

Evelyn Vega is the Founder and President at Staffing Strong and the Past President of the Phoenix American Marketing Association. Since 1999, she’s made her career about supporting her clients in building meaningful careers and partnering with businesses in finding quality hires. In her free time, Evelyn sits on various advisory boards and enjoys practicing on her drum set!

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