My daughter recently reminded me of that old song by Stephen Stills (and covered by many), “Love the One You’re With.” If you’re not familiar, it’s got a great beat and a timely message to today’s leaders – one that should immediately be incorporated into their playlists and playbooks.
Organizations, leaders, managers and the media have (understandably) been obsessed with the loss of talent associated with the Great Resignation, but there’s even greater risk in not being equally obsessed with attending to the talent that has chosen (at least for now) to remain.
Decades ago, psychologists and HR professionals recognized the emotional and physical toll on employees following rounds of layoffs. The fear, guilt and depression expressed by those who remained was termed “survivor syndrome,” and efforts were made to address the issue. It’s time we invest similar effort in today’s “survivors” – people who have not joined the great migration and instead show up (virtually or in person) day-in and day-out to take care of business.
Because let’s face it, too many employees today feel overlooked, overworked, overwhelmed and completely over it!
Months of continued uncertainty, supply chain issues, escalating customer expectations and picking up the slack in under-resourced workplaces have left people weary, fragile and a flight risk. All of which means that the time is right to heed Stills’ profound advice and “love the one(s) you’re with.”
Here are three ways to show your love to those who are loyally laboring during these challenging times.
Train those who remain
One of the most tangible ways you can show your “love” is to offer employees the learning and development they crave. Several years ago, Gallup polling told us that 87% of millennials believed professional growth and career development are very important. And millennials are not alone.
Training is one of today’s most highly desirable employment benefits. It’s also an expectation of workers who understand that automation, machine learning, artificial intelligence and other advancements are quickly changing the way work gets done. Their ongoing relevance and survival (and the organization’s) depend upon skilling up.
Businesses that show this love may also be rewarded with the retention they need. According to a 2020 LinkedIn Learning report, 94% of employees report they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning and development.
Remove the strain for those who remain
Filling gaps in many organizations while continuing to grapple with pandemic-related challenges has stretched people to (and beyond) their limits. The tolerance that employees have had in the past for internal hurdles and obstacles is growing increasingly thin. As a result, it’s critical to make it easy to do the work that’s necessary.
- Addressing cumbersome or outdated procedures and systems
- Cutting the red tape and streamline processes
- Facilitating the greatest reasonable level of flexibility related to where, when and how people work
- Discovering the daily annoyances that distract employees and taking immediate action to eliminate them
Your efforts to make it easier for employees to succeed sends a clear signal of value and respect that resonates deeply with others, delivering both human and business outcomes.
Sustain (and be humane to) those who remain
Finally, leaders can show their “love” by investing in a relationship with each remaining employee and staying abreast of their ever-changing needs and priorities.
Understanding someone’s broader life, what’s most important to them and the pressures they face outside of the workplace all provide a context for offering the support required to help others sustain their engagement, satisfaction, and energy for their work.
So, carve out time for conversation. Learn about their priorities and goals. Explore what they need more or less of at work — and take steps to make it happen if you can. Recognize their talents, efforts and accomplishments. Offer whatever grace is possible.
Create the kinder, gentler, more humane workplace experience that so many employees want and need right where they are, so there’s no need to look elsewhere.
Leaders who respond to the Great Resignation with even greater attention to the needs of those who remain won’t just “love the one(s) they’re with,” they’ll also love the relationships, retention and results that follow.
Julie Winkle Giulioni’s new book, “Promotions Are So Yesterday: Redefine Career Development. Help Employees Thrive,” will be released in March 2022. Learn more at her website, and listen to the book’s Spotify playlist here.