Future of Work

Rethinking the Great Resignation: The secret to preventing attrition.

If we want to prevent joining the trend of mass attrition, we need to prioritize how we empower managers to run our teams on a day-to-day basis.


For the last year or so, our news feeds have been clogged with reports of employees leaving their organizations en masse. There are different theories about the causes of what’s been called The Great Resignation, but for us the most urgent question is what we can do to ensure people are more likely to stay than go. While conventional approaches to talent retention tend to center on how we run organizations, we believe that our strategy needs to be far more focused - we need to be looking at how we run teams on a day-to-day basis.  

For good reason, The Great Resignation has been called The Great Reimagination. Right now, we have to reconsider everything we know about how our workplaces ought to look. It’s inaccurate to say that the pandemic is solely responsible for the mass resignations we’re seeing at the moment. Resignations were already at record highs in August of 2019, well before Covid-19 upended our lives. Reimagining our workplaces in 2022 isn’t just about hand sanitizer and video conferences: it’s about adapting to a changing workforce with changing priorities. The need for change will become even more acute in the next few years, as Gen Z will start their careers and bring us innovative, challenging ideas about what work ought to look like. If we want to make our organizations worth staying at, we’ll have to listen to them, just as we have to listen to our employees now. 

 

“Reimagining our workplaces in 2022 isn’t just about hand sanitizer and video conferences; it’s about adapting to a changing workforce with changing priorities.”

 

While many have been trying to answer the question of why this is happening, we’re more concerned with what managers can do about it. We can’t afford to ignore this question, because the fact is that the Great Resignation isn’t going away any time soon.  

There’s something fundamentally wrong with the way we think about work, and we’ve been doing a lot of research and rethinking here at Perflo on how we can approach not only the current talent crisis, but how we should approach entirely new ways of working. If you want to know more about our research and how we use it to solve problems, read on. 

   

It’s time to get curious 

If managers want to create better workplaces, they need to stop assuming that they already know what matters to their team members and what’s going wrong in their teams. In this study, senior executives were asked why employees were leaving in droves- and the top three reasons they identified were compensation, work-life balance, and physical or emotional health. But when employees were asked the same question, most responded that they were considering resignation because they didn’t feel valued by their organizations or their managers, and because they didn’t feel a sense of belonging at work. Leadership was getting it all wrong.

It is becoming increasingly clear that leaders don’t know what their people want - employees don’t only care about better compensation or more reasonable workloads. A recent survey of American knowledge workers found that 50% of respondents wanted to leave their current job, with the desire for location flexibility post-pandemic being the most significant reason. Another survey showed that nine out of ten employees would take a pay cut if it meant doing a more meaningful job. Employees want more than salary increases and days off: they also want more inclusivity, flexibility, care, and meaning in their workplaces. Organizations that make faulty assumptions about these issues will inevitably make ineffective changes. The crucial question, then, is how we can stop making these false assumptions. 

We need more than good intentions and vague curiosity if we want to change our broken workplace culture. We need a systematic approach to understanding employees, and on a continuous basis. This is what we’ve been doing with Perflo: we’re empowering team members to continuously communicate their needs and concerns directly to their managers, in a way that is safe, honest, and actionable. Because this approach focuses on teams rather than entire organizations, the feedback loop is sped up, and managers are able to make the right decisions faster - and, most importantly, they make those decisions based on data, not assumptions.  We draw heavily on the research surrounding team retention and the psychology of teams. In addition, we leverage behavioral science to increase impact and drive the desire to take action swiftly.

The reason we’re so passionate about a data-driven solution is the fact that it results in team insights that are immediately actionable, and void of bias. In this way, good intentions can be translated into effective changes that make employees feel properly valued, really cared for, and meaningfully engaged. Because Perflo delivers team insights in the flow of work using nudges - we empower team leaders to act rather than react; to provide the support and intervention their team members need as soon as they need it. We don’t want to wait until the exit interview to find out why a team member was unhappy in our organization, when it’s already far too late to fix what’s broken. We want to do everything in our power to create teams that members want to be part of - we do this by caring for our people in a way that is deliberate and systematic, based on their real needs rather than our own faulty assumptions. 

 

What matters? 

Positive team outcomes and a healthy organizational culture rely on inclusivity, respect, and honesty; team members need to feel that their voices are both heard and valued. That’s not always easy, but it is absolutely crucial - if we don’t start listening, we’ll keep operating on faulty assumptions, making the wrong decisions, and losing our people at unsustainable and unacceptable rates.    

  • Hearing voices 

In order to communicate honestly and make their voices heard, team members need to feel a sense of psychological safety - they need to know that they can speak up without fear of being punished or humiliated. Making a team an inclusive one, and fostering a safe environment should be a top priority for managers. Promoting difference and disagreement doesn’t only make for better work outcomes - it also means that team members feel a greater sense of ownership and involvement in their projects, and have better relationships with their colleagues and managers. As studies have shown, feeling cared for is a crucial part of positive workplace culture - and the first step in caring about someone is listening to them. 

But simply listening isn’t enough. Leveraging team feedback means basing your decisions on their insights. In other words: their voices don’t just need to be audible to you -  they need to really matter.

  • Valuing voices 

For team members’ voices to matter, their insights have to ultimately guide their team leads’ decision-making processes. Valuing someone’s input isn’t just about thinking it’s important in an abstract sense. You have to translate your attitude into action. 

 

But managers are only human 

It’s easy enough to say that managers ought to hear and value their team’s voices. The problem is that team leaders don’t have superhuman empathy and unlimited time. Like everyone else, team leaders make assumptions and have blind spots and - as far as we can tell - none of them are mind readers.This is why we put emphasis on a team-driven approach to collectively solve the problems that lead to...the Great Resignation. 

 

Turning imagination into action 

At Perflo, our approach to creating teams that people want to be part of is founded on the idea that empathy and curiosity should be built into the work process at the ground floor - and we believe that the systematic, continuous collection and analysis of team feedback is the way to do it. 

One of the most important reasons we value the data-driven approach is the ability to make voices heard and eliminate the risk of team leads’ misconceptions, biases, and blind spots creating false assumptions about what their teams think, value, and want. This is especially important in light of the massive increase in virtual and hybrid teams, as it's far more difficult to intuit someone’s state of mind when you’re only seeing them on a screen. 

Through the continuous collection of anonymized micro-feedback, we make it possible for managers to listen to team members who might otherwise go unheard. The anonymity encourages a sense of safety and honesty, and the opportunity to provide ongoing feedback means that managers aren’t relying on the loudest voices and their own gut feelings to determine what’s going on with their teams. We know managers are busy, so we proactively send behaviorally-based nudges in Slack or Microsoft Teams to aid managers in the process of team enablement. By listening - not assuming - managers create workplaces that don’t push people out, but rather draw them together, developing that sense of belonging needed to achieve workplace satisfaction. If you’d like to listen too and increase your team's longevity,  head over here for a free demo of Perflo. 

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