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Navigating the “Great Resignation” Phenomenon

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As we begin 2022, the “Great Resignation” does not seem to be slowing down any time soon. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, a record 4.4 million U.S. workers quit their jobs in September.

So what’s behind Americans quitting their jobs in record numbers? Simply put, many workers spent the pandemic re-evaluating their career aspirations and work-life balance preferences, as well as their values, beliefs, and priorities. And this examination has prompted them to leave their jobs or demand way more from their employers.

Today’s employees now have higher expectations and completely different motivations than they did before the spring of 2020. And as many workers are rethinking the role that work plays in their daily lives, employers are grappling with the best ways to retain valued employees.

One answer is understanding exactly what motivates employees and makes them excited and inspired at work. While many believe that the top motivators for employees include recognition, incentives, and clear goals, this is not accurate.

Instead, making progress is actually the most powerful motivator for employees, according to a study conducted by Teresa Amabile, the Edsel Bryant Ford Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, and Steven Kramer, an independent researcher and writer.

Published in the Harvard Business Review, the study, “What Really Motivates Workers” analyzed about 12,000 diary entries from more than 600 managers on their top motivators.

The study found that progress in one’s work is associated with positivity and motivation—more so than any other work experience. So what does this mean? Managers have the ability to positively impact an employee’s motivation. And in order to achieve this, Amabile and Kramer offer the following advice:

–Include your employees in goal setting

–Encourage collaboration and teamwork

–Consistently recognize employees

–Examine your current performance review process

Author Daniel Pink also agrees that external rewards are not the best motivators. In his book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, he writes: “The secret to high performance and satisfaction is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to better ourselves and our world.”

Pink offers examples of several organizations that are navigating new approaches to motivation. For example, Kimley-Horn, a civil engineering firm in Raleigh, North Carolina, developed a reward system where any employee can reward a fellow colleague a small bonus for doing something exceptional. Because the rewards come from colleagues in real time, they are considered highly motivating.

In addition, Australian software company, Atlassian, created specific days where employees can tackle any problem they want and display their results—such as a new idea or an improved internal process—to the rest of the company. Because real-life challenges can be extremely revitalizing, this exercise fosters true inspiration.

Pink also suggests enhancing motivation by connecting teams via joint goals. “Nothing bonds a team like a shared mission,” he writes. “The more that people share a common cause—whether it’s creating something insanely great, outperforming an outside competitor, or even changing the world—the more your group will perform deeply satisfying and outstanding work.”

It is very important to use new approaches to motivation because what worked in the past may not be completely effective in today’s business world. Below are several suggestions to keep in mind for every business owner and leader:

Always talk the talk and walk the walk: Lead by example through words and actions. Only ask employees to do things that you would do. In addition, proactive communicating on a regular basis allows employees to feel connected to the organization and its mission and values. Communication also fosters the feeling of being part of something meaningful.

Allow a great deal of autonomy: Employees value freedom. And because of this, organizations should try to steer clear of policies that impede this freedom. Instead, consider policies that show employees you care about autonomy, such as offering unlimited paid time off or vacation/sick days on the honor system.

Encourage teamwork and collaboration: Helping employees feel like they are part of a team gives them a sense of belonging and a sense of loyalty to their colleagues.

Foster strong work-life balance: Promoting this within your organization leads to happy and healthy employees, which increases productivity.

Invest in employee training: Providing consistent training and education to employees demonstrates that you value your people and the numerous contributions they make. In addition, this sends a message that the organization values progress and achievement. And this, in turn, tends to create strong employee loyalty and passion.

Ask for feedback, listen, and learn: Create an atmosphere where employees feel extremely comfortable sharing their suggestions. This will help you gain insight into your organization. And make changes where needed. This will not only make employees feel part of the process, but it gives them ownership over the outcome and inspires them to work even harder.

Support respectful relationships: There is no question that respect is an important motivator, especially between leaders and employees.

In fact, according to a recent survey of 20,000 working professionals, employees valued “the ability to demonstrate respect” as the most important leadership behavior. Additionally, employees who said they felt respected by leadership were 55 percent more engaged than those who said they did not feel respected. Clearly, facilitating respect in the workplace equates to being a good human being—as well as practicing good business sense.

In the words of Amabile and Kramer: “On days when workers have the sense they’re making headway in their jobs, or when they receive support that helps them overcome obstacles, their emotions are most positive and their drive to succeed is at its peak. On days when they feel they are spinning their wheels or encountering roadblocks to meaningful accomplishment, their moods and motivation are lowest.”

The bottom line is that it’s crucial for today’s business leaders to grasp exactly what employees need in order to succeed and feel truly inspired at work. With the “Great Resignation” in full swing, this is more important than ever.

The “Great Resignation” paved the way for corporate professionals to finally turn their hobbies into small businesses. At NCH we’re here to secure the future of your business and ensure you’re equipped with the right tools that will protect your hard-earned assets and help your business grow. Start your NEVADA LLC online or call 800-508-1729.

7 ways to motivate employees. Read more here.

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