How Companies Can Adapt to the Changing Priorities of Workers Amidst the Great Resignation
As the labor market experiences one of the most chaotic moments in history, organizations must adapt to changing worker expectations and priorities to remain competitive. A significant emerging trend is the increasing demand for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives from employees. In 2023, as pressure mounts on organizations to deliver on DEI, it is essential to understand its impact on employee retention and organizational success.
Some of the reasons for worker dissatisfaction have existed long before the pandemic, complete with increasing resignation rates. Many question the term “great resignation”, and argue that “quiet quitting” is a mere rebranding of phenomena that have long been known. What is becoming hard to deny given the evidence accumulated, though, is that worker expectations and priorities are changing profoundly. Yes, people have been quitting their jobs since there have been jobs to quit, but the reasons why they do so as well as what companies can do to address that have changed. This is visible in the macro trends of who is quitting, what they are moving away from, and what they are moving towards.
At QuestionPro, we believe organizations who want to hire the best people and have the best culture need a firm grasp on how employee expectations, values, and priorities have changed, and continue to do so. This is why QuestionPro Workforce partnered with EQ Community in order to examine an important emerging trend: employees holding workplaces to higher expectations for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
The White House became a notorious example of this trend, even as it was praised for having exceptionally diverse staff, when it suffered an exodus of black employees in 2022. Across the workplace, the attrition risk for women of color increased and women managers in general quit their jobs at record rates. As pressure mounts on organizations to deliver on DEI in 2023, we wanted to contribute to this important conversation with a bird’s eye view on DEI from across the US market, and what organizations can do to better attract and retain diverse talent. What we found surprised us, but at the same time it gave us hope that some if not most of employee discontent can be addressed successfully.
While 70% of people judged their experience working for their current employer as positive overall, DEI appears to firmly detract from this sentiment as only 60% of employees were satisfied with the actions their organization was taking and progress they were making on anything related to DEI.
The areas where employees were least satisfied with their company’s performance were how frequently their company discussed the importance of diversity (52%), the amount of action being taken to foster inclusive environments (57%), and the diversity they witnessed at the top of their organizations (57%). Employees are not only dissatisfied, they have such a strong desire for more inclusive environments that 37% of workers overall, 45% of Black workers, and 54% of managers indicated they would switch jobs to be part of a more inclusive culture.
When employees are not satisfied with something they value increasingly, and at the same time they believe they have no influence to change it, looking for a new job becomes the logical alternative. And by the time their minds are made up, retention becomes increasingly less likely.
What can organizations do?
Proactively use employee listening strategies to monitor how their people’s engagement, sense of purpose, morale, motivation, and satisfaction with their experience is evolving over time and taking prompt and visible action to address any gaps. Meaningfully involving their employees in these efforts is key, as culture transformation is best done from the grassroots up rather than from the C-suite down.
Those organizations that have already set up an employee listening program, have accumulated the historical data to guide impact now rather than later. For the others, the next best time to start employee listening is right now. Organizations who are rated highly on DEI strategy and implementation did not get there by chance. Instead, they were guided by data and had the full support of their employees. Support from employees starts with them being and feeling truly seen and heard.
Would you like to know more about how to effectively connect with your employees on DEI? If so, please check out our full report. Or watch our Webinar: How employee listening can improve your DEI strategy.