How many people do you know or have heard about that have quit jobs because of the work environment? Many of these people are hard workers,but now in having the opportunity to stay home for awhile, have had time to reflect and rethink work.
Many people who quit jobs did so not only because of stimulus checks and /or collecting unemployment during the pandemic, but because they realize the job they were at was a miserable soul sucking experience that they no longer had to put up with.
Gallup research tells us that approximately 70% of the time when people quit, it is due to the manager or supervisor and the environment that was created as a result of their lack of leadership, their treatment of them and/or others, unrealistic expectations, or poor people skills. For some the environment lacked purpose or meaning and others simply felt so unappreciated or taken advantage of that they too decided the paycheck was no longer worth it.
Still others were asked to put their own lives at risk in service to others during a pandemic with so many unknowns to health and safety, and employers who were not willing to put employee safety first may have contributed also to the throngs of people leaving their traditional employment in search of greener pastures or just some badly needed rest.
If you are a store owner, or organizational leader, what can you do to turn the tides, that when the employee pool begins to return you can become the irresistible place to work? In other words why would anyone want to work for you and your business? You must be able to answer that from the employee experience perspective.
1. Talk to current and former employees with a truly open mind. Ask questions such as what do they/ did they like about your work environment or culture? What parts of working for you are/were really challenging, difficult or downright distressing?
2. Listen with an open mind and heart. It is one thing to ask the questions, and quite another to pause, really listen, take in the information and utilize it for good to make needed changes. Rather than reply with defensiveness, just take in the information and try to see it from this person’s perspective.
3. Remember that your vantage point will be completely different from the experience of an employee. They have a radically different experience of how they perceive your behavior than you will or would.
4. Begin to show appreciation and often. Demonstrations of appreciation must be genuine. Start to look for one thing you appreciate about each person in your business or organization and specifically consider one talent or strength they exemplify that helps your organization and the people you serve. Sometimes it can be as simple as “ I noticed you got that order out really fast, thank you” that can help someone to feel seen and appreciated.
5. Consider how to engage people to your company’s mission right out of the gate. Most people do not desire to be an “order taker” rather they long to belong to a team with a higher purpose or mission. You may need to reconnect with your “WHY” (you own this business) and why it matters, to engage with them at this level. People want work that has meaning and connects to something bigger than a paycheck.
6. Change how you interview and hire. It is so very tempting when you are short staffed to also be short sighted and hire anyone who inquires that has a pulse. But putting the wrong people with the wrong skill set, character or strengths in your business can spell stress and disaster for all parties.
7. Once you have the right person, plan on learning about who they are. Each person is unique with different experiences, ideas, preferences and motivations. Why did / does this person want to work in your industry, and specifically for your company? The more you get to know them as a person, learn what tasks and responsibilities light them up, and the more you learn their strengths, the better you can ensure that you are creating opportunities for them that allow them to do what they do best.
8. Don’t be rigid on who does what based on job titles only. This is where knowing your people and discovering their strengths can pay off big. Once you know their strengths (Gallup strengths assessments can assist you here) then you can be mindful and intentional to approach people for projects and tasks that match their strengths. When people get more opportunity to do what they like and are good at they are so much more likely to be engaged at work.
9. Model the behavior that creates the environment you and others desire. Too often tired, stressed business owners, bosses and managers come to work already feeling deflated, distressed, or depressed. Owning a business is stressful however if you do not learn to manage your stress, you may likely be creating an “egg shell walking” environment that you are completely unaware of. Let your people know it is ok to feel stress and talk about ( both individually and collectively) how to enhance wellbeing so stress and challenges can be managed effectively.
10. Put people first. When you are just as concerned for your people as you are profits, your people will feel this. When profits are talked about all the time, and money is the god of the owner, employees feel like they are “just a tool”. Truly caring for others and their wellbeing is crucial- both your staff and the people you serve must matter.
Owning and operating a business is a multifaceted proposition. Business owners and managers are pulled in what feels like twenty different directions at once. Often daily tasks seem to dominate and swallow up every minute of the day.
If you want a business that thrives however, it will be necessary to take the time to shift your focus on your company’s culture and the people in it. This often makes the difference between a business that barely survives or a business that thrives.
Not sure where to begin the shift? Reach out to us at Live Well Kitsap where we can refer you to a business/ wellness coach to help you forge a plan that can get you on a path to creating a company culture that thrives.