Humanizing the Workplace: The Antidote for the Great Resignation

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit it created a switch from office to remote working that massively affected the way people think about their jobs, and their expectations towards the company they are working for. The mismatch in the work environment employees want and reality became apparent and created a surge in people who quit their jobs. The phenomenon has been named the Great Resignation of the Big Quit. According to the Microsoft 2021 Work Trend Index, 41% of employees are considering leaving their current employer due to the impact the pandemic had on the way of working.

While working remotely, some employees realized how much time they were spending on activities such as commuting back and forth to work, while others suffered from digital overload that led to exhaustion. According to the research 63 percent of the workers craved more in-person time with their teams, while 73 percent wanted the flexible remote work option to continue. Some people did not like the “normal” from before the pandemic, and are looking for companies that allow them to work differently from before. This leaves organizations to figure out how to create a hybrid workspace in order to retain their employees. An answer to this is “Humanizing the workplace”. But let’s first look at some valuable lessons that showed us that humanizing the workplace is the way to go.

Lessons for Organizations to Take from The Great Resignation

Companies that did well during the pandemic were the ones that realized that human capital (employees) is what ensures your capacity to adapt, therefore, human capital is where organizations need to invest. The organizations that thrived and were able to pivot together with their people were the ones that managed to rethink and switch their focus from bottom line outputs to what they (as an organization) needed to do for their employees to make sure they could thrive and create good outcomes.

Because employees are starting to think about what they want in life, including what they want from their careers in terms of location, work-life balance, support and culture rather than simply compensation, organizations need to find ways to accommodate for different people’s needs if they want to retain their workforce. Here diversity and inclusion play a very important role to retain employees. By creating a culture and system that fosters a feeling of belonging for different people, their various needs, and that makes employees feel valued will make them more likely to stay. This is what humanizing the workforce is, creating and organizing corporate culture in the way that values and develops human potential and takes into account individual differences, it’s a win-win situation for both employees and employer.

How to Humanize the Workplace to Increase Retention

1. Focus on Human Capital (duh…)

Avoid the street lamp effect, in other words, companies usually measure the things that are easy to measure, such as revenue. However, the new expectations employees have of their employers beckons for a more human view that will create success for everyone. Long term investment on human capital should be in focus rather than the bottom line. Ask yourself what you can do for your employees rather than what they can do for you.

2. Recognize the Employee-Employer Relationship

The relationship between employee and employer is not just about a pay check, it is about development, culture, work life balance, recognize all these components as important and have honest conversations with your employees about these topics. Encourage informal conversation between employer and employee, but also between employee-employee, this helps the employees build relationships, creates psychological safety and trust. This is especially important for millennials and gen Z employees.

3. Honour Differences

People are in different stages in their life and careers, which means that they, as employees, have different needs dependent on their journey. Employers should recognize and try to find ways of meeting the different needs of their people. For example, some employee’s life’s might be easier if you provide childcare, while others want a sports membership or a career development budget. Figure out what your employees high impact contributions are, what makes a big impact for that person, and honour that the best you can.

4. Create a Progress-Oriented Environment

Create an environment where the employee feels like they can reach their goals, which will in turn make them work harder and create loyalty towards the company. Create and communicate a culture where the employees feel like they are being taken care of and that you are actually concerned about their needs and welfare, but that you are also invested in their career growth.

To sum up, with the Great Resignation, people became pickier and expect more from their employers than what they did before. Organizations that want to thrive need to adapt a more human approach than before. Humans (employees) and their needs must be the focus. This will make the companies more likely to retain your talent, attract new talent, and have a happy workforce that in turn are more productive, creative, loyal and contribute to the bottom line.

Author: Mathilde Bastiansen (28.06.22)

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