THE CHIPS ARE DOWN, THE STAKES ARE HIGH. BLAME FOR WORKPLACE STRESS, BURNOUT AND ABSENTEEISM IS INCREASING ATTRITION AND EMPLOYERS ARE EITHER FAILING OR REFUSING TO CHANGE WITH THE TIMES. COVID FORCED THAT CHANGE AND THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT MANY BUSINESSES HAVE BEEN TAKEN ABACK BY A TURNING OF THE TABLES, THE RISING VOLUME OF EMPLOYEE VOICE, RISING EXPECTATIONS OF WHAT WORK HAS TO OFFER – NOW SET AGAINST A BLEAK ECONOMIC FUTURE – AND, ABOVE ALL ELSE, AUTONOMY AND CONTROL OVER CAREER AND DESTINY. THE OLD CONVENTIONS OF CAREER STAGES AND LINEAR PROGRESS ARE RENDERED TO HISTORY.
COVID TAUGHT US, AMONGST MANY OTHER THINGS, THAT WHERE THERE IS A SUFFICIENTLY PERSUASIVE IMPERATIVE, THINGS CAN CHANGE VERY QUICKLY AND THAT SACRED COWS CAN BECOME UNCONSECRATED BARRIERS WITHIN DAYS. ENFORCED OR JUST BOLDY UNDERTAKEN CHANGE, WAS REWARDED WHEN SEIZED WITH CREATIVIT Y, LEAVING LEADERS WHO WERE RISK-AVERSE OR SLOW, EXPOSED.
Toxic corporate culture is by far the strongest predictor of industry-adjusted attrition, ten times more important than compensation in predicting people leaving. Follow-on research showed that numbers one and two on the list of defining factors of what constitutes a ‘toxic corporate culture’ are disrespect and non-inclusion. It goes on, three is unethical, four is cut-throat, five is abusive and so on. Also, retaliation for speaking up about wrongdoing is at an all-time high. So, what are the main things to focus on, to keep people and to attract the best to join?
Foster psychological safety: Only 26 percent of workers felt psychologically safe during the pandemic, according to a recent Workhuman report – most organisations are still not taking psychological safety seriously when it should be a strategic priority, essential for enabling organisational resilience and growth. Create performance metrics that measure psychological safety, diversity, equity and inclusion. Give diversity and inclusion the right standing: This means vesting in whoever has been charged with this responsibility, the resources, accountability and authority to actually do their job. Many organisations have a tick-box attitude to DE&I, but one-off efforts will not cut it, indeed they are almost always a waste of investment. As Aiko Bethea said: “Stop demanding the business case for investing in diversity, equity and inclusion work. Just do it!”
Listen to retain: Take the time to walk about and listen to your people – if there is a problem, it’s the people closest to it that often know how to fix it – if only management listened to them. Think hard about the office of the future, a place where workers want to be, to see friends, explore ideas and find meaning. Improve leadership through self-awareness training: People are often promoted because of their performance, without examining their ability to manage and lead. At the same time, attrition is equally often attributed to people leaving their manager. So, we must be more focused on interpersonal skills and self-awareness. This calls for an exploration of values, beliefs and biases – we all have them – so let us be deliberately aware. Show gratitude: A Glassdoor survey found that 80 percent of employees say they’d be willing to work harder for an appreciative boss – a simple but really powerful way of doing this is hand-writing – not typing – a thank you note. Focus on solutions rather than blame and always give credit where credit is due.
Take advantage of the job market flux: Will there be a crash this year? Job cuts in the tech world are mounting, as companies that led the ten-year stock bull market adapt to a new reality of economic slowdown. We are entering a new world and the best are learning how to adapt to it through education, community and flexibility. Be more culturally intelligent: CQ is a globally recognised measure of how good we are at understanding cultural differences such as gender, age, nationality, ethnicity and location and assesses beyond simple sensitivity and awareness. It is a skill that can be developed, so practice, in order to understand better how decisions are influenced by beliefs, attitudes and values. Inclusion, combined with high CQ lead to deeper trust and stronger values, which in turn lead to increased productivity as well as reduced bias, conflict and loss of talent.