According to a Microsoft report, over four million Americans quit their jobs that month, shattering the record for resignations previously set the month before. Further, the remaining 40% of employees are thinking of quitting too.
The wave of mass resignations has spread all across the globe, irrespective of geography, industry, company size. From MNCs to startups to 100 year old establishments, the great resignation has caught all forms and sizes of organisations.
So, to curtail these resignations, do employers today need employees to love the virtual workplace? Or love their rhythm around work and life? Or something else altogether?
Everise, a tech-enabled customer experience service firm, was recently named one of Newsweek's Top 100 Most Loved Workplaces for 2021. A few areas that Everise employees valued the most are: company-provided training and licensing for full-time career opportunities for roles that traditionally were seasonal and hourly jobs, use of psychographic hiring to best match talent to opportunities, efforts to provide work-at-home opportunities and set employees up for success while working remotely, and a deep commitment to diversity and inclusion.
With the mounting exodus looming over employers, will these cultural essentials be enough to beat the great resignation? Let’s find out!
Leaders' verdict on culture essentials
On being asked if a great culture is enough to beat the great resignation, Rajesh Rai, Vice President – People Team and Head of Human Resources, India, GlobalLogic, said, “Yes, a great culture is the foundation of everything; what makes it stick is the ability to evolve with the environment to bring homogeneity amidst ever increasing complexity.”
Rai believes that like the laws of nature, culture also is important to enable people to adopt new opportunities for change, thereby offering a fulfilling, life-affirming work experience for employees today and in the coming near term.
Commenting on the role of a great culture in pacing the great resignation, Amdocs’ Head of Regional HR, India Lynette Dsilva said that great work culture is imperative to curb the great resignation. “A great work culture focuses on talent development, opportunities to grow within the organisation, facilitates collaboration by design, elevates sense of belonging, enables mobility and enhances employee experience as a whole. It’s about ensuring engaging and rewarding work experience in a digital world. The mantra for us to flourish as an organisation is to embrace flexibility, enable employees to upskill, reskill and cross-skill and a holistic well-being embedded in a culture to thrive.”
Adding that a strong cultural foundation is the keystone that guides organisations through challenging times, Pitney Bowes’ Country Head - Delivery Centers, India & VP HR APAC, Ruchi Bhalla said, “Culture is our collective capability to create value in different contexts and is the currency to create long-term, sustainable success for any organization. ”
Reflecting on what their organisations have either introduced or amplified in the past 20 months to hold onto their talent, enhance experience and attract new talent as well, here is what leaders had to say on culture essentials to beat the great resignation:
- Care: GlobalLogic’s Rajesh Rai believes that the one non-negotiable cultural element that organisations cannot ignore is ‘Caring’. “Especially in unprecedented times such as what humankind faces today, caring defines the value we put into people. It creates meaningful engagement with employees and helps to develop in them a sense of belonging at work. Caring is incremental to the overall wellness of each employee. It transcends all boundaries and personifies the attributes of kindness and understanding among all; ultimately building winning teams and great organisations.”
Sharing her thoughts on the value of care, Anjali Byce, CHRO, STL, said, “Core to building a strong culture is “care”. When an organisation's policies, practices, manager interactions, work environment etc., pass the litmus test of care; it creates a culture ripe for innovation, alignment of purpose and fun!"
"With the corporate landscape shifting to a Hybrid – ‘phygital’ way of working, 'Care' as a key foundation of organisation culture is becoming absolutely imperative,” added Byce.
Echoing the importance of care, Arun Dinakar Rao, Chief People Officer, Birlasoft shared, “Work culture and its impact on organizations are like icebergs. The more you discover, the more there is left to be discovered. I believe that an enabling-work culture is a core element on which is predicated the organizational success, but that itself isn’t enough to beat the great resignation. Work culture is like the star ingredient to a master dish, but there are many other ingredients to the recipe which makes up the experience! I believe respect and care for people is the one non-negotiable cultural element that organisations should not ignore.”
Yet another leader prioritising care to beat the great resignation is Shruti Tandon, Director, People Enablement, Nagarro. She said, “At Nagarro, 'CARING' is our core value and I believe it is the guiding principle and the very essence of our identity. Core values is what distinguishes us from our peers and competitors – they are the basic principles that an organisation believes in and wants the employees to be aware of, respect, imbibe, and exhibit in their day-to-day activities.”
- Flexibility, in where and how: Though forced for many, COVID-19 fueled an overnight shift to remote working, which eventually - and steadily - transformed into hybrid working. As employers juggled productivity, experience and well-being, they learned to adapt on the go and adjusted their ways of working in line with the new norms. Amid new variants and the emphasis on well-being, continuing flexibility in ways of working remains an essential to retain as well as attract employees.
“We want to enable a mindset where managers are less focused on work locations. So the when and what of work is more important than where the work is done,” said Jennifer Di, HR Director, Southeast Asia and & APAC Corporate Functions, Baxter International.
- Embedding well-being in the flow of work: Highlighting that amid the ongoing extraordinary times it has become important for organisations to maintain the mental health and well-being of their employees, Sushant Patnaik, Head HR, Aeris Communications, India shared that it is absolutely imperative to have an open and effective management/work environment. “To do so, organisations need to plan ahead and make sure that they are adequately staffed, so the workloads of their employees are reasonable. Along with this, managers should also be encouraged to support employees’ personal needs and take steps to foster a sense of social belonging among employees.”
- Inclusion: According to Pitney Bowes’ Ruchi Bhalla, the one non-negotiable cultural element is inclusion. Bhalla noted that in today’s hybrid work environment, it’s important to weave in all perspectives through everyday allyship of those in the room and across the screen. “Organisations need to have mechanisms that mitigate biases and encourage diversity and inclusion. Delivering personalised employee experiences is the most important and valuable people leadership agenda for these times.”
- Learning: In addition to caring for employees, Nagarro’s Shruti Tandon highlighted that a culture that gives you a sense of autonomy and freedom, where everyone is valued and trusted, creates a great workplace. “It’s about the depth of give and take between the employees and their workspace, about how much they gain from one another, how much they evolve together. Culture is surely a big differentiator. Add to that the professional development of employees, and companies can get a great mix of ingredients that can help them retain and nurture talent.”
What remains to be done
While multiple strides have been made to up the culture quotient in the hybrid ecosystem, the on-ground reality in some spaces fall short of the intended outcomes and what employees truly seek. Here are some gaps that organisations can fill in:
- Going beyond what’s comfortable about mental health: Mental Health is not just about stress, burnout, exhaustion. These elements and the like certainly deteriorate mental health. But what employers are missing out on in the space of mental health is about medical conditions that individuals co-exist with. Conditions that could span from depression, anxiety, to PTSD, and so much more.
Are we really still going to limit the scope of mental health to comfortable restricted understanding or are we actually going to address it head on?
- The whole is greater than the sum of its parts: There is a lot that an individual brings to the table. Not just their skills, but also their aspirations, quirks, fears, and hidden strengths. Organisations need to create spaces that enable individuals to feel comfortable bringing all of themselves to work, not just the part that plays a role to perfection and delivers to client’s satisfaction. “Irrespective of the Industry or business maturity stage (start-up, turnaround, Greenfield or an M&A), the culture of the organisation is a critical success factor for overall excellence of the company. When employees come to work bringing their ‘full self’ and being able to perform at their best potential; business results are but a natural outcome,” shared Anjali Byce, CHRO, STL.”
- Let go, with care: Without any hard sentiments, let your employees take the path they so desire.
Several organisations do not realise how the experience you extend to your employees during their final days with the organisation leaves a sour taste for life, feeding into your pipeline of ‘boomerang employees’ and influencing potential talent in unfavourable ways.
Imagine the time you could save in acclimatising employees to the company culture should old employees join back, as well as the positive brand image they can build for you as an employer post a smooth and warm exit.
- Sensitisation: Not enough emphasis has been placed on the mounting need to sensitize the workforce and leaders towards each other. Organisations need to be intentional about empathy. It isn’t just a buzzword, there is more to it. With empathy comes an ability to navigate conversations, build stronger collaboration, and know when to step up for someone, and to step down and let someone take over.
- Learning beyond the scope of the role: Help employees expand their scope of learning, beyond what the job demands. Be it through workshops, or by shadowing leaders and peers across functions. Despite heavy investments of time, effort and money, learning programs often fail to garner the intended participation and engagement. One key contributing factor is a mismatch in offerings and what employees seek as they look to add a variety of skills to their employee brand.
Adapting to the rapidly changing business climate and constantly evolving employee preferences is a tedious task in itself. However, it is the reality that HR leaders are being expected to tackle seamlessly. What’s crucial today is to have adequate listening channels on the ground and ensure the strategies, infrastructure and culture is built in a manner that meets both business and employee needs through this disruption.
With employees aggressively looking out for a better working ecosystem, how swiftly organisations and leaders adopt an outlook of care, among the many other cultural essentials will shape their ability to beat the great resignation.