CLAREMONT, CA—Businesses are taking novel steps to better manage their workforces during the Great Resignation, according to The Society for the Advancement of Consulting® (SAC). The key is to take steps today that deliver long-term benefits for the workforce and sustainable results for the business.

Start by Cultivating the Culture

“Our most successful clients see employees as their #1 asset,” points out Lisa Anderson, president of Claremont, CA-based LMA Consulting Group, Inc. and manufacturing expert known for creating supply chain resiliency. “People don’t leave companies; they leave people. Thus, successful companies prioritize people.

“Strong leaders cultivate an engaging work environment,” she adds. “Focus your employees’ attention on your customers. Show appreciation, recognize progress, and celebrate successes. Have high expectations, discuss performance, and provide immediate feedback. Communicate the vision, explain each employee’s value, and provide flexibility. Build your culture, and you’ll retain top talent and attract new talent while your competition loses to the Great Resignation.”

Raise Your Workforce to the Customer Priority Level

“Business owners and managers have three types of customers these days: the end customer, the supplier, and their workforce,” explains Kathleen McEntee, President of Kathleen McEntee and Associates, Ltd (KMA), a full-service marketing firm known for developing strategies and tactics that distinguish its clients from competitors. “Treating the workforce with the same priority level as end customers is critical in retaining and attracting the right workforce.

“Better management of a workforce requires flexibility, setting expectations, follow through and communication,” she says. “Remote work is no longer a privilege; it’s a must. Setting clear goals and expectations provides direction. That allows employees to see how they fit in the big picture. A big criticism of managers is a lack of follow-up or feedback. But feedback is vital to keep employees on track and engaged.”

“Regular communication that reaches every employee is key. It’s not only what you say, but how you say it. That’s tricky, with four generations in the workforce today. Nevertheless, it can and is being done,” claims McEntee.

Two Steps that Make Employees Want to Work with You

“The great resignation is a wake-up call for organizations to finally address the issue of culture,” notes Jo-Anne Hill, founder of JH Hospitality Consulting, which helps organizations improve revenue and profitability. “Defined as ‘how things are done around here’, it takes time, attention, and financial support to create a positive, empathetic culture. Ignoring culture breeds an environment of mistrust and fear, which is why companies are seeing the mass exodus of employees. Leadership has a choice to make.

“The first step is the commitment of the most senior person, typically the CEO, to model the way,” she says. “Once confirmed, ask employees for their feedback and suggestions on how to improve the working environment. This process calls out poor leaders and begins to melt the fear that impedes productivity.”

“These two steps begin the transformation journey to create an environment where employees want to come to work,” adds Hill. “Byproducts are reduced recruitment costs and transition downtime, making everyone happier—from the front-line worker to the C-suite executive.”

Design Meaningful and Humane Work

“As businesses face high levels of employee turnover, headlines are filled with stories about The Great Resignation,” says Dr. Maynard Brusman, a San Francisco Bay Area consulting psychologist and executive coach.

According to Dr. Brusman, “For companies experiencing retention problems, I recommend that mindful leaders reach out and listen to engage employees, which is crucial in times of disruption. Engaged employees perform better, experience less burnout, and are more committed to their organizations. Connect with what employees care about and their core values.”

Dr. Brusman advises his executive coaching clients, “Create a culture of belonging and psychological safety. Enable workers to satisfy the human need for autonomy, choice, and control, which build high self-worth.”

Look at the Places with No Great Resignation

“The Great Resignation is not ubiquitous. In Germany for example, only one in ten skilled workers plan to resign—far fewer have left,” says Steven Hunt, founder of Steven Hunt & Associates, and expert advisor to top management on how to get workers motivated and focused on growth across global business units. “Resignation rates are below average. Loyalty is high because bosses invest in workforce development, skills, and employee benefits.”

“Where employees are leaving, it’s for two reasons,” he says. “The first is managers with low emotional intelligence. Selfish and self-absorbed managers are a big turn off and quickly drive people away. Second, employees’ frustration is rising with business leaders who struggle to manage digital transformation, particularly across global functions. Top managers who cannot implement a digital workplace are losing workers to companies that are already managing digital transformations well.

“The three biggest levers managers have in hand are to invest in the workforce, show interest in employees, and lead effective digital transformations,” advises Hunt.

Great Brands Always Attract Great Employees

While many businesses struggle to maintain their workforces, others continue to attract talented employees who are eager to work. A key difference is how organizations empower employees to deliver the promise of a strong brand, according to Linda Popky, president of Redwood Shores, CA-based strategic firm marketing firm Leverage2Market Associates, and author of the book Marketing Above the Noise: Achieve Strategic Advantage with Marketing That Matters.

“Organizations that are focused on offering true value to their customers know it’s impossible to have happy customers with disgruntled employees,” she says. “That’s why they make employees feel well-valued and compensated for their efforts, and those employees feel good about coming to work and being associated with that brand.

“The pandemic has forced many people to reevaluate their working conditions—they’re no longer satisfied to “ make do” with difficult situations, with jobs that don’t compensate well, or where they don’t feel energized and appreciated. Now’s the time for smart organizations to take the steps to live by their chosen brand values—and make their team members a key part of the process,” she adds.

Think About Future Talent—Not Restoring the Past

“Don’t assume that your workforce needs to be ‘restored’ in some way,” says SAC Founder Alan Weiss, PhD. “Ask a different question: What kind of talent will I need for what kind of value creation in the next year? You might find that it’s time to rethink staffing altogether.”

Originally posted on SAC website: April 2, 2022