The 2 question leaders must be asking their teams

As businesses continue to reopen or expand operations as COVID closures ease, many leaders I work with were worried about whether or not customers would come back. As it turns out, we should have been thinking about how to encourage our employees to stick around.

Research by Randstad UK shows that 24% of all workers are actively planning to change employment. There are certainly many drivers behind the “great resignation’ with experts pointing to everything from uncertainty about job security, to burnout, to people reflecting on career goals. 

However, recent research from MIT Sloan Management Review pointed out that businesses with reputations for strong workplace cultures are experiencing lower attrition rates than other companies in their industries. In other words, a major culprit behind the Great Resignation is toxic workplace culture.   

This means business leaders can create environments that will encourage more people to stay. I believe businesses can boost retention and help build positive workplace cultures if leaders can answer two important questions:

Do employees know their manager cares about them as a person, even before considering their workplace performance?

Do employees know the next thing they need to do in order to advance their career and improve the business? 

These questions may seem simple, but in my experience, very few leaders know whether employees could answer them. The truth is, many of them are operating under outdated paradigms.

This is dangerous for retention because we have seen a major shift in employee attitudes toward work, driven in part by a new generation of workers. The workplace is no longer just a place to earn a salary but an important element of a beneficial work-life balance.

These two questions reframe the essential relationship between workers, managers, and the business, and brings the experiences of all into a sharper focus. The principles supporting these questions help support the impact that good managers can have on employee experience are just as important. 

When employees can clearly answer these questions, it means their managers are engaged in more than just business outcomes. Employees want to work for companies that care about them as people and help them improve themselves.

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