Sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone – to echo a line from a favourite old song. And it is a line that also echoes the current predicament facing thousands of employers as they attempt to manage ‘The Great Resignation’.
Personally, I think it is more of a great escape as individuals take a long look at their career path, or a close look at the job they’ve somehow wound up doing and realise life’s too short to be stuck with an employer who has no regard for them. We’ve long known that internal communication, employee experience and simple decency on the part of the employer are essential if an organisation is going to achieve its goals, yet for many organisations such notions have been simmering dangerously on the back burner while they preoccupy themselves with shareholder interests, profits or politics. Research from Edelman highlights that employees have overtaken shareholders as the most important stakeholders for an organisation – something we’ve known all along albeit something employers themselves have been slow to understand or have deliberately ignored.
This week I’m working with internal communicators on the shape of things to come as we navigate the ongoing COVID challenges. At the start of the pandemic, I counselled organisations that they should quickly turn themselves ‘inside out’ and take time to focus on employee relationships and what it meant to be part of their team. We’ve since survived the seismic shifts in the workplace – it really has been a case of ‘the workplace is dead, long live the workplace’. Suddenly employers have realised just how important their workers are. Well, some have – others have turned a very dark corner, switching on surveillance software to monitor staff in their homes or sacked people en mass via text or social media. With a multitude of research reports now in, we have new data to share with our leadership teams.
Data that will help them understand that the employee experience is critical, that they have a duty of care to understand the external pressures their staff face, that they cannot remove themselves from the business of communication and, if they are going to use technology to ‘keep in touch’ then budgets must be found to equip staff with the devices and technology they need. Employee wellbeing is central to the employee experience – financial, physical and emotional – and these are not areas that have been overly explored in the past. Banging out a newsletter and hoping for some good open rates won’t work in today’s world (it didn’t before but that’s a discussion for another day). If employers stop, listen and truly understand the value of their people and do something to make their employees’ experience a good one, they’ll discover it is possible to dodge the great escape and keep hold of those who get the job done.