By Ted Powell – June 2021

Some of the top reasons people leave their jobs center around relationships and culture. While leaders can’t control whether employees ultimately leave, you can focus on changing controllable factors like the environment and energy you create and foster for your team. These 3 simple tips from Ted can help you improve employee engagement and satisfaction in critical areas, which could positively impact employee retention.

15 months ago, COVID’s arrival provoked rapid and disruptive changes in the way we work, live, and lead. I’ve watched our clients adapt new work from home and video conferencing practices, creating longer term leadership opportunities and challenges.

I call your attention to a trending story I am hearing from my clients and employee survey results.

Employees are more prone to change jobs today. We are all at risk of losing valuable talent and good people. Prudential recently released their Pulse of the American Worker Survey, showing that 26% of respondents intend to pursue another job post-pandemic. Mobility is also increasing because people have more places to go and offers to consider!

Prudential, “Increasingly, workers expect pandemic workplace adaptations to stick,” April 06, 2021

Of those desiring a change, 42% give their employers a C or lower on their employer’s efforts to maintain a strong and positive culture during the pandemic (compared to 30% of all workers).

This compelling research hit my inbox the same week I received several client calls asking for advice on how to inspire people to stay on the team.

Prudential, “Increasingly, workers expect pandemic workplace adaptations to stick,” April 06, 2021
Prudential, “Benefits are key to financial resilience; American workers looking to employers to deliver,” January 27, 2021

Aside from addressing the important factors revealed in the Prudential research (flexible work options being a priority), I recommend that leaders at all levels focus on these three priority-actions:

Remember MBWA? Engage in the old-fashioned practice of Management By Walking Around. Set a goal for how many hours a week you devote to this. Develop a few provocative, open-ended questions. Then just listen and reflect to tap into the hearts and minds of each employee. My favorite Teddy Roosevelt quote is “nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” A good ratio for you listening versus talking is 80/20. With the new prevalence of remote work, MBWA can also be achieved by impromptu Zoom and/or phone calls.

Take the pulse of the team vibe Most clients periodically survey employees. Find a way to assess the mood now. We are helping a client conduct a series of small “coming out of COVID” focus groups. Not only does this identify potential morale breakers, but it also allows for healthy venting in a group environment, something that has been missing for the last 15 months.

Reconnect, Recharge, and Recommit Certain messages just cannot be effectively communicated through formal methods, such as Town Halls, newsletters or virtual sessions. They require modes that are in-person and less time-bound. These messages relate to helping people:

  1. Understand the “why” behind significant decisions
  2. Stay connected to the organization’s purpose
  3. Know how their day-to-day responsibilities serve that purpose

Several clients have acknowledged that remote working has chipped away at people’s understanding of the answers to those three questions.

What can we do about it?

Give high priority to arranging in-person team activities that combine relaxed small group discussions with spirited social time. For the business part, thoughtfully construct an agenda that stirs up conversation around the most important “pain point” issues or concerns that may have festered during this period of unprecedented isolation. Use insights from surveys and informal discussions to help identify those issues.

Of course, these are things we’ve all done in the past. These are not breakthrough ideas. My point of encouragement is to bring people together sooner rather than later.

You cannot control whether someone is going to receive the offer of a substantially higher salary or job level. As a leader, you can influence how they feel about being part of your team.