As written in the first part of this miniseries, the Great Resignation is solvable if we take a human-centered approach to business. Until now, most businesses have almost exclusively focused on external stakeholders and their bottom line. Today’s workforce is demanding a seat at the table. They, too, want to feel valued, respected and included. Below please find the remaining four actionable suggestions that can help to slow the Great Resignation.
- Provide the necessary support.
Even when we provide employees more autonomy or flexibility, we are still responsible for ensuring that they have what they need to get their work done. This may look different from person to person, and that’s why it’s important to keep an open line of communication with each employee regarding their needs.
We can all agree that, at the very least, those who are remote need the basic home equipment to set up their own workspace. But what if we took it a step further and asked what would help them perform at their absolute best? For some, it may look like providing a childcare allowance. For others, it may look like commuter benefits. Of course, not all personal needs can be accommodated, but when we see our employees as individuals who have unique circumstances and commit to supporting them in any way we can, then we grant them a level of human-centric care that can go a long way in promoting work-life harmony.
- Establish great boundaries that promote productivity.
Work inevitably takes up a large portion of most of our lives, and many are starting to push back on this notion. France, for example, has implemented a law where companies of a certain size cannot send emails outside of working hours. Certainly, the rationale for this law is beyond the scope of this blog, but it’s a great example of how boundaries can give more control and predictability to employees so they can more effectively manage their lives.
Some companies are trying shorter workdays, acting on the understanding of Parkinson’s law, that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” The eight-hour workday isn’t necessarily the most productive across the board. So, shorter hours with more focused work time could be a beneficial shift for some companies to try. This can help draw stricter boundaries around the time that work takes up in our lives and, in turn, can allow for work to be a part of our lives, rather than our entire lives.
- Set realistic work expectations/workloads.
Employees feel a sense of overwhelm when too much is expected of them at work, or when they don’t know what is expected of them. Recent studies have shown that in 2020, more than half of employees were stressed at work on a day-to-day basis.
It’s easy to overlook this when it appears that everyone has too much on their plates. Overwhelm has become the norm. This constant sense of pressure encroaches on our employees’ sense of well-being and can quickly lead to burnout. It’s important as leaders to monitor our employees’ stress levels and identify if their workload or what has been communicated (or not communicated) as expectations are the cause of overwhelm. Get really clear on deadlines and performance goals and identify roadblocks that may be out of the employees’ control. Open communication with our employees about what is on their plates and agreement about what is realistic for them to accomplish is key in creating a healthier environment that promotes their overall work-life harmony.
The ability for employees to take on tasks for one another when needed can add to the collective sense of teamwork and flexibility within the workplace. It creates a dynamic system in which team members are each valued for their expertise but also expected to hold up the company as a team. Imagine a world where an employee could go on vacation and not have to check their email once or answer a single incoming “emergency” work text. Imagine returning to work and not having to play catch-up.
Is that possible? With intentional cross-training, yes. When employees are cross-trained well enough, it gives your company “the flexibility to respond to fluctuating workflows,” as Chris Cancialosi writes.
This means that when someone needs to take time off or step out for an appointment, they get to step away without the stress or worry of tasks falling through the cracks. This creates an environment where employees get to fully recoup and reset when they need to, promoting their well-being and ensuring a sense of harmony between their work and personal life.
It’s important to mention that not all industries will be able to make these adjustments. For example, the healthcare or food service industries can’t allow workers the same kind of flexibility discussed here. However, employers can still get creative in making business more human. Maybe it’s a 4/40 schedule to provide longer weekends or adjusting shift lengths or start times to accommodate childcare needs. The point is, if an employee’s needs are met, they won’t go looking elsewhere for employment.
There’s no perfect formula across the board, but what’s important is that leaders are willing to try new things and adjust as they figure out what works best for their employees. When we allow employees the freedom to fit work into their life, rather than the other way around, we can help them achieve true work-life harmony. Consequently, we get to keep our good employees and play our part in shifting the paradigm to doing human-centered business that benefits our well-being and our bottom line.