Our country is undergoing incredible social and historic changes. As our demographics and societal norms change, leaders are struggling to keep up with the demands of a new workplace.
Political Divides and Societal Changes
Our political and ideological divides are more apparent than ever. When coupled with our changing demographics, this leads to some interesting findings.
• The Pew Research Center reports that 51 percent of Americans attribute our country’s success to “its ability to change,” while 43 percent say the country’s “reliance on long-standing principles” is more important. Young people are far more likely than older adults to say American’s success is primarily linked to its ability to change.
• According to Gallup, 77 percent of Americans perceive the nation as divided. Gallup also reports that, for the first time ever, 55 percent of workers have no preference between a male or female boss.
• An October 2017 Pew Research survey revealed that a majority (54 percent) of Republicans favor acceptance of homosexuality; in 1994, just 38 percent did so. Over this period, the increase in the share of Democrats saying homosexuality should be accepted rose from 54 percent to 83 percent. This results in partisan differences politically which inevitably seep into your workplace.
• Millennials became the majority demographic in the workplace in April 2016. Millennials and Gen Xers outvoted Boomers and Traditionalists in the 2016 election.
All of this culminates in shifting workplace expectations. In the past, pay was the most important thing about a job. Now, it’s purpose. Job satisfaction requirements have morphed into a priority on personal development. Employees want to be coached, not led by a “boss.”
Recently, many companies have questioned the value of annual reviews. Let’s face it: most managers don’t like giving them, and employees dislike getting them. These conversations usually focused on what employees needed to improve upon, which were inevitably weaknesses. Nowadays, employees want ongoing conversations that emphasize how they can develop and grow their strengths. Today’s employees want their companies to support their life, and not just their job.
The Trust Factor
Gallup reports that Americans average confidence in 14 “Traditional Institutions” ranging from the military to Congress is at an all-time low. In other words, Americans trust big business about as much as they trust Congress. Small businesses are trusted more than big businesses, but from a leadership perspective, we all have employment engagement challenges.
Workplace Engagement Drives Retention
In its State of the American Workplace Report, Gallup reports that only 33 percent of US employees are engaged in their job. Stop and think about that: if you had an asset that only performed at 33 percent of its potential, what would you do with it? Your CFO would tell you to get rid of it. That’s essentially what US workers are telling us because on average, 51 percent are actively looking for a new job or watching for openings.
Not surprisingly, these numbers change depending on the level of employee engagement. Only 37 percent of engaged employees are looking for a new job, while 73 percent of actively disengaged employees are seeking their next opportunity. But what are they looking for?
• 60 percent are looking for a job where they have the ability to do what they do best. In other words, they want a position that lets them play to their strengths.
• 53 percent are seeking for greater work-life balance and better personal well-being. Think beyond traditional health insurance and benefits. Are you offering predictable schedules? Do you encourage lifelong learning?
• 51 percent want more stability and job security. If your company is going through endless restructures, reorganizations, and layoffs, your employees are probably looking for other opportunities.
• 41 percent want to significantly increase their income. Paying competitively ensures that you will attract and retain the best talent. Total compensation statements are an excellent tool to help your managers explain that compensation includes more than base pay. Consider using them several times a year, especially for employees in high-turnover roles.
• 36 percent are seeking an opportunity to work for a company with a great brand or reputation. Do your employees know what your company stands for, and what makes your brand different from your competitors? If you survey your employees, will the majority say that they’re proud of the quality of your products/services? Do they encourage friends and family members to purchase or use your company’s products and services?
What Is Your Purpose?
Purpose ties Millennials to their organizations. According to Gallup, 71 percent of Millennials who strongly agree that they know what their organization stands for and what makes it different from its competitors say they plan to stay with their company for at least one year. So, make sure your company’s reason for being is articulated simply, clearly and often. Don’t make it a “flavor of the month.” Management usually gets bored with messages and moves onto the next iteration before it’s fully integrated into the employee population – and with its customers.
Finally, don’t forget to share good news. Managers often focus on what they need to improve, and not on the good things that are happening every day. Celebrate successes often and make a big deal out of them. Spread the good work that you’re doing within your community. In this case, sharing really demonstrates caring and will help you engage and retain your most important asset: your employees.
Liz D’Aloia is the founder of HR Virtuoso, a mobile recruiting company based in Dallas, TX. She is an HR professional, employment attorney, speaker and blogger. Prior to launching HR Virtuoso, Liz worked at national transportation companies and at a global retailer. Connect with Liz on LinkedIn and follow her at @hrvirtuoso.
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