How Business Leaders Can Help Team Members Find Their Purpose
By Joel Landau
The Great Resignation continues, with some 4.4 million American workers quitting their jobs in September, after 4.3 million departed in August and 4 million left in July. The resignations tended to be highest among workers in mid-career (i.e., ages 30 to 45), as well as those in the technology and healthcare sectors.
While the reasons for this trend are many, experts have honed in on dissatisfaction with salary and working conditions. Elise Gold, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, told Business Insider that the pandemic has led millions of people “to reevaluate their work and their priorities and what they want to do.”
“There is evidence that people have been doing thinking during the pandemic in terms of how their life is going and have had some epiphanies and decided they want to make some changes to their life. And this could involve deciding to leave the workforce and stay home with family, to start a business, to pursue a hobby, perhaps retire early.”
Or, just as likely, they have found greener pastures elsewhere. Economist Mark Zandi told CNBC that those in the labor force “are in the driver’s seat for the first time in 30 years,” as a record number of positions has come open around the country. They are seeking greater remuneration — “Cash is king,” Nick Bunker, North America economic research director for Indeed Hiring Lab, told CNBC — but also improved working conditions.
Employers, meanwhile, are reassessing the steps that need to be taken in order to increase retention. That means, among other things, improving company culture.
Brent Gleeson, a former Navy SEAL and the founder of Talking Point Leadership,
pointed out in a Forbes post that leaders don’t often give their employees’ sense of purpose much thought, but they should. In an era where many team members are under stress and/or working remotely, making everyone feel connected and valued should be Job №1.
In Gleeson’s estimation, leaders would do well to step up as mentors and coaches, thereby improving employee engagement. Engaged employees are more productive — and, crucially, more loyal.
Of course, it has become more challenging for leaders to engage employees during the pandemic, when in so many businesses the workforce has been scattered. But moving forward, Gleeson writes, engagement must be a priority, and he cites statistics showing that eight of every 10 companies are planning to make the employee experience a priority.
Central to that, Gleeson believes, are creating an environment in which people are adaptable and accountable, and one in which there is a clear path to advancement. As he put it, it is crucial to “offer these unique opportunities to each employee” while also personalizing them “for the highest impact on the individual and the organization.”
He adds that that is obviously not an easy task. It takes commitment on the part of leaders. It takes focus. However, the end result is a purposeful, engaged workforce. That makes for a happier, more productive workplace, and also employees who are more likely to spurn current trends and stick around for the long haul.