Your People Are Your Business

Since the COVID pandemic, employees nationwide are leaving the workforce or switching jobs in droves. Economists have dubbed this “the great resignation.” For some workers, the pandemic precipitated a shift in priorities, launching them to pursue a dream job or become a stay-at-home parent. But for many others, the decision to leave came as a result of the way their employer treated them during the pandemic. With the close of the Legislature, the Executive Branch has been given many new positions to recruit for. Although this is a great opportunity, how will we: 1) successfully fill these positions and 2) retain and engage these individuals to be productive and thrive?

According to Eric Mosley, CEO and co-founder of Workhuman, this looks like prioritizing the value of our people and our own human capital investment. We need to inspire employees to give their best and bring the best out in each other. How do we get there? Purpose, meaning, mutual trust, and recognition are built by people one interaction at a time, and it’s up to leaders to build the infrastructure that facilitates these elements of culture. There are three steps to get there.

Step One: Obsess over employee feedback

One way to better understand what your employees need is to simply ask. Don’t wait until there is a problem or tension on your teams. Initiate recurring one-on-one conversations with team members to find out what they want and need. It’s important that employees know clearly what’s expected of them and that they have the materials and equipment to do their work. Once that’s established, asking them what they want and need to be successful is important information. I’ve shared my favorite three questions with you before and I’ll share them again. 1) What’s working and going well? 2) What’s happening that’s not helping (or what’s not working that should be working)? And 3) What would “great” look like for you? Another way to get employee feedback is through pulse surveys deployed frequently. It’s not a once-a-year employee engagement survey. It’s consistent surveys to keep a pulse on sentiment and feeling to get at the heart of concerns and emerging needs.

Step Two: Make culture synonymous with humanity

We bring our whole selves to work. What happens at work comes home with us and what happens at home we bring to work. We must finds ways to make sure that we’re seeing our co-workers for who they are, and in turn, that we are accepted for who we are. Employees need to feel confident that their personal lives matter in the workplace. Here’s a great example of this: I have a colleague and friend who works in a different agency. We have frequent check-ins to talk about our projects and what we’re thinking about. Recently he told me that he had an artistic performance coming up. I asked about it and decided to attend to support him. I was both surprised and pleased that his supervisor and a few other co-workers attended as well! I later was invited to celebrate a birthday party with these co-workers and ended up realizing I’m on the statewide wellness committee with one of them and she had started an employee resource group that I was interested in learning more about. Sharing in my friend’s personal life enriched my work life as well. One of my favorite tools to use with teams is the Pecha Kucha. It invites people to share what’s meaningful and important to them and to find commonalities and connection with their co-workers.

Step Three: Prioritize the right technology for your people

All of us have been forced to get comfortable with tools like MS Teams and Zoom to stay connected this past year. I won’t deny that investing in technology that allows employees to be productive in a virtual environment is very important. We must also look to incorporate options for employees to better connect, share honest feedback and feel valued, respected, and heard in the workplace. Mutual trust and the ability to discuss, plan and strategize with each other is necessary for energy and engagement. One of the simplest ways to do this is by turning on my camera and being present with people. Just as I wouldn’t want to take a phone call while someone was in my office or turn to my phone if someone was talking to me, the same goes for virtual meetings. How can we find new ways to connect in authentic ways to continue to build trust, respect and show value in the workplace?

If any of you are interested in partnering with me to create a plan that prioritizes your human capital, don’t hesitate to reach out. Now is the time!


Additional resources found here:

Transforming the Great Resignation into the Great Hire

The Great Resignation: How Employers Drove Workers to Quit

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