Why Leaders Need to Reevaluate How They Manage Their Workforce Today

This article was first published in Forbes website by Sanja Licina, PhD, President at QuestionPro Workforce.

As we navigate through 2022, many employers are feeling uncertain about the best way to drive their business forward — and perhaps rightfully so. In early November 2021, my company partnered with RADICL to better understand how workers are feeling and what they are looking for in the year ahead. We found that while only 47% of respondents feel fulfilled with their lives, 88% said they have big dreams. In fact, since the pandemic began, many workers have been “reevaluating their lives” and pursuing new opportunities, according to Business Insider.

Nowadays, it’s nearly impossible to get through the day without hearing about the “Great Resignation.” After conducting our study, it became evident that we will continue to see important movements in the labor market. Almost 90% of workers who are employed full time said they have already taken some action to make a change. This matches up with data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which reported that 4.5 million workers quit their jobs in November alone. This was an increase from 4.2 million in October.

When it comes to people-related issues at work, two key questions are keeping employers up at night: “How do I keep my people from leaving?” and “How do I best attract talent in an increasingly competitive marketplace?” Your answers to these questions will have a significant impact on your business’s bottom line, so let’s take a closer look at two important factors: salary and culture.

Why are salary and culture important for attracting and retaining workers?

I believe a fulfilling job that pays well should be the norm rather than an exception. In my company’s study, 50% of respondents ranked salary as the No. 1 factor for choosing a work opportunity, and more than 70% put it in their top two. In addition to the labor market being a “job-seeker’s market,” the November Conference Board Salary Increase Budget Survey predicts a 3.9% increase in wage costs in 2022, the highest rate since 2008.

In addition to getting salary right, values are also a critical part of the equation. From my perspective, one of the key ways to feel fulfilled is to know your organization’s values align with your own — that through your work, you are also impacting the world in the way you want to in your personal life. The study “Closing the Employee Expectations Gap” from Future Workplace and Blue Beyond Consulting — which surveyed 753 full-time employees in the U.S. and Canada last summer — further supports the importance of values alignment. According to the report, eight out of 10 employees said it is important for their values to align with their company’s.

While employers think about pay and culture more often when it comes to talent acquisition, these are two key factors in retention as well. It is much more difficult to lure an employee away who feels a deep connection to the organization. In “The Heard and the Heard-Nots,” a global study conducted by The Workforce Institute at UKG, researchers highlighted that 92% of “highly engaged employees” say they feel heard at work, whereas only 30% of “highly disengaged employees” feel heard. Nearly three-fourths of employees also reported they are more effective at their job when they feel heard.

What does this mean for your company?

With all of this in mind, I believe it is critical for organizations to not only lead with their story and their values when they are recruiting talent but also to take the time to evaluate whether their values truly are the best representation of who they are. Ask yourself: Do your company’s values align with what workers find important in work and in their lives?

Furthermore, take steps to foster a connection with current employees. I suggest holding ongoing conversations at scale and conducting employee surveys. The key is to ensure each person has a platform where they can share how they are feeling and know they are seen and cared for by the organization.

With that, many organizations have a great opportunity to better understand how their employees experience their culture and where there is room for improvement. As the president of an online survey software provider, I’ve seen that, though employee surveys have been around for decades, there is a tremendous opportunity to make them a more effective part of your people strategy. One way is by humanizing the process.

Are you letting employees know in the most effective way that findings from your surveys are first and foremost for their benefit? Are you asking questions in such a way they will be able to understand what is most critical for their success and sense of fulfillment? Are you doing it in such a way that they feel like they can be open and candid about their needs and advise you on how to get better? When it comes to contemporary surveys, it’s all about how you are doing them, not about whether you are doing them at all.

The pandemic has created more urgency for organizations to reevaluate their cultures, identities and, more than ever, the needs of current and future workers. As people are emerging with big dreams and greater courage to pursue them, what an incredible opportunity for employers and workers to collaborate on truly creating a world of work that we have never seen before.

Ready to create a workplace culture where everyone can reach their full potential? Learn more about how to get ongoing feedback from your employees and start taking action to make a positive impact in your organization with QuestionPro Workforce.