Reevaluating the Employee / Employer Relationship

In the beginning of 2021, more than 47 million Americans quit their jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor statistics. It’s no question that employers in the current climate are very familiar with this turnover, known as “The Great Resignation”, but one question still stands: why are so many Americans just now leaving their long-term jobs and careers?

Many people and experts equate this high level of turnover to the current pandemic, which undoubtedly has had overwhelming implications on the market. The pandemic has contributed to opening different and improved opportunities that did not exist before, like working remotely. It has also given people the necessary time to reevaluate their relationship with their work and workplace culture, their value to a corporation, and the burnout that they’ve been feeling all along.

Functional turnover, known as the process of poor performers leaving a company willingly or being terminated, is something that every organization faces, and is to be expected. Some would argue it’s even necessary, as it can prevent inertia from groupthink, and bring forward innovative ideas and a diverse pool of people with a fresh mindset.

But this isn’t the only type of turnover we’re seeing these days, as even the best performers are starting to leave organizations to achieve their maximum potential elsewhere. This lands the company in a Catch-22. If an organization has developed a multi-talented, diverse workforce with up-to-date skills, then upper management has done their job correctly. Nevertheless, it’s inevitable that our most ambitious and hard-working employees can and might be recruited by other organizations who offer better opportunities for their skills and knowledge; so how can we retain and properly value our best performers in today’s competitive market?

“The Great Resignation” has been the major turning point in creating a highly competitive job market with the expectation that employers keep up with the many new (and not so new) approaches for engaging employees. Employees realize their value to a corporation, and how they can have a major impact on its success. This new wave of job seekers has discovered the possibility of finding an employer that will not only appreciate their work, but is willing to fairly accommodate their needs and requests, therefore no longer feeling pressured to stay, especially if they feel unfairly treated.

With the huge shift of the job market and the new mindset towards employment practices in general, employees are no longer basing their job search on solely what is fair financially. Though this is still significant, flexibility and work-life balance, as well as their mental health, are taking a higher priority in the minds of today’s workforce. With the pandemic and the fierce competition for talent, employees are capitalizing on this and expecting more from their employers.

This dramatic shift isn’t likely to end anytime soon, if ever. Therefore, we must permanently implement new ways of retaining, appreciating, and coaching our employees, primarily based on what motivates them. Granted, money is a motivating factor for almost everyone at some level, especially in the current economic state, but we must dig even deeper. Do they enjoy learning, would they be interested in furthering their education? Would they prefer to work remotely, so they can spend more time at home with their children? How would they like to be recognized for their hard work? This requires a form of communication that goes beyond project work; something most employers are not comfortable doing.

Harvard Business has reported that nine out of ten people would be willing to earn less money for the opportunity to do more meaningful work. Research from LinkedIn found that 94% of employees said they would stay at their companies longer if their employers took a more active role in their learning and development. This by no means provides an excuse to pay our employees unfairly or poorly, but rather points to a larger issue of those in charge not understanding what motivates their employees.

With these particular points kept in mind, employers need to be willing to open a healthy line of communication with their employees, ask the necessary questions, and most important of all: listen. Only then will they discover how to properly retain, motivate, coach, and develop their people—who are, in turn, the key to a company’s overall success.

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