Let me be blunt: your leadership and teamwork practices are the #1 cause if you’re having trouble with retention.
You may have heard of “quiet quitting.” Did you know, there are 2.3 million people on Reddit’s Antiwork subreddit?
The truth is, Millennials and Gen Z workers don’t want the same things you did. They’re not willing to put up with the same things you did. Many don’t believe retirement is a realistic option for them.
Their loss of belief in retirement means workers are no longer willing to sacrifice for the company, because they don’t believe the company will have their back later on. No more gold watches and pensions.
They don’t want to sacrifice now for later. They want to live a great life now. That impacts how and where they want to work.
Young people are under major financial pressures. As they struggle with student debt and finding enough money for rent, many have given up on home-buying, marriage and children.
Market changes including inflation and lack of rent control have created a group of young people with less buying power. Job seekers are looking for compensation that can match those changes.
Even worse, it’s a common maxim now (ask anyone under 45) that the only way to get a raise these days is to switch companies. “Switch jobs every two years,” they advise. This widespread unwillingness to give employees raises results in widespread turnover and retention problems.
People also want employers with values that match theirs. Diversity, inclusion, equal pay, and the environment are more important than ever.
Let’s be fair: “Quiet quitting,” which means that employees are only willing to do what they are getting paid for, could just as easily be called “having healthy boundaries” and “honoring your contract as written.” The reason organizations have labeled this as a negative is that they’re mourning the death of people’s willingness to “go above and beyond” as employees realize there’s probably nothing in it for them. That means organizations will have to compensate employees honestly.
I can attest to this personally- almost EVERY time I’ve talked to a prospective client who says, “do this crappy thing now and it’ll lead to awesome things later,” they’re blowing smoke. It never happens. A bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.
That’s why to attract and retain smart and talented people, organizations more than ever need to be honest and generous with how they treat and compensate employees.
Some obstacles are on the employer side:
- It isn’t helpful to say, “In my day…” because it’s no longer your day- this day belongs to all of us, not just you.
- It isn’t productive to say, “We’re being more than fair…” when most job candidates don’t agree with you.
- It isn’t useful to judge people’s differences. The best thing to do is to figure out what will work in an equal relationship with them, and how to leverage their new and unique strengths.
What are your corporate values? Does everyone know? Are you really acting in sync with them on a day to day basis? How in-sync are those values with younger employees?
Today’s best leaders are inclusive, transparent, and honest. They build rapport and trust. They look out for the people they lead and manage. They act as protective umbrellas not funnels where they let you-know-what just roll downhill. They make sure mentorship is happening. They make sure there’s a clear path forward for their employees both in advancement and compensation. They build productivity and organizational success by fostering clarity, optimism and meaning. They have the patience to explain not just what needs to be done, but also why.
Leaders like that also foster productive teamwork. The best teams are collaborative, honest, and fun. The people on these teams know, like, and trust each other. Teams are also self-correcting. When someone isn’t pulling their weight, they initially get help, but laggards eventually get fired. Great leaders don’t let bad employees spoil the lot. And great leaders are living examples of the kind of character and collaboration they want to see on their teams. Teams usually won’t act in better character than their leaders.
Quite simply, when people aren’t growing, the organization can’t grow. When people are stuck in the mud, sometimes more people get stuck trying to get them out. For this reason, it’s important that organizations facilitate mental and physical health. Companies that provide options for mental health insurance and even gym memberships are thinking ahead. Even great people run into temporary obstacles, and we need to have a caring attitude toward team members.
The world changes. It always does. It’s changed since you were younger. And those changes have changed your job candidates.
How have you changed in response?
5 Tips for Adapting to a Changed Workforce:
- UNDERSTAND. Talk to younger people and read what they say in forums and subreddits. Look into the trends and statistics affecting them today.
- CLARIFY. Figure out what your organization’s top 3 values are. Prioritize them in order. Hire people who value those values. Fire those who don’t.
- COMPENSATE. Look at the costs of low retention and the costs of hiring. Figure out if you can afford to spend more to keep people- it may be more profitable than the alternative.
- PROTECT. Protect your employees’ mental and physical health. Protect them from internal chaos. Strive to make work simple and sane. Care about their personal and family lives.
- GROW. Grow as a person. Grow as an organization. Challenge yourself and others. Raise the bar not just on productivity but also on personal growth.