Since 2020, the labor force has developed a collective mindset and voice that feels like a unity we’ve never experienced before. It has echoes of the national unity our country felt after September 11, 2001. The pandemic ushered this in when non-essential workers were sent home and office buildings became professional ghost towns. It didn’t matter if you had a blue collar or white-collar job, everyone’s way of working was affected.
With the broad population largely staying home and 2020 as an election year, people were glued to their TVs for pandemic and political news. What they also saw and heard were profound and often heartbreaking stories around social justice issues. This year in review looks at powerful social justice moments of 2020 that garnered national attention. The KHOU news article notes
“Between the pandemic and struggling economy, election and fight for equity, people forced to isolate in the spirit of altruism had to deal with themselves and each other in an unexpected way, especially over the issues of racism and intolerance.”
With this as the backdrop and the world of work already disrupted, the tumultuous times shined a spotlight on the weaknesses of companies around DEI issues. Since then, initiatives that may have been brewing in the background were thrust to the forefront of c-suite agendas. And the responding sentiment that sounds loudest has been “It’s about time.”
Prioritize Cares of the People
Now more than ever people want to work for companies that connect with their personal values. They care about the sustainability efforts that affect our world. They expect companies to care about their mental health and wellbeing which includes better work-life integration. And job seekers look for companies that prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion. But they don’t just want to see words on pages, walls, or websites. They want to feel it more than see it.
Need guidance on improving DEI at your organization? Our training, consulting, and coaching services help to incorporate and engage inclusion into all levels of your company culture.
Over 20 years ago, we saw the dichotomy of what a company says versus what it does on magnificent scale with the bankruptcy of Enron, the country’s seventh largest publicly traded company. When the company collapsed their values were Integrity, Communication, Respect and Excellence.”
“Writing values on the wall is easy but by itself pointless. Effective values need embedded in the organization…” -- Build it : The Rebel Playbook for Employee Engagement.
What Do You Value?
Disenchanted employees disengage.
For some employees, today’s discontent stems from leadership’s refusal to accept that the workforce adapted to remote work and wants to remain in a model that allows for work-life integration in a meaningful way. For others, it’s values alignment—DEI or otherwise.
If you value you profits over your people, don’t be surprised when employee loyalty wanes or your people stop pursuing excellence and instead take the stance of a quiet quitter. The ironic thing is, when you really take care of and value your people, you make a strategic investment in your company’s bottom line.
With people seeing the true colors of many companies on full display over the past few years, fidelity to their companies either deeply solidified or it prompted a personal re-evaluation. After riding waves of layoffs, rehiring, and more layoffs, some tired employees have lost their motivation to go above and beyond, putting in the minimum effort possible to collect a paycheck.
Quiet Quitting: New Name for an Old Concern
Though quiet quitting sounds novel, at its core, it’s one of the latest ways to talk about employee engagement. According SHRM research, for the roughly 35% of companies reporting being affected by quiet quitting, “3 in 5 (60 percent) say their organization's culture leads to this behavior.” The research indicates communication issues, poor people management, poor supervisor support, and lack of accountability may be at the root.
“Encouraging passion and next-level productivity among employees also come from fostering a sense of belonging and inclusion in the workplace,” notes DiversityInc.
You can easily envision the slippery slope of disengaged employees: when motivation to improve products or services and to provide excellent customer service declines, so does your company. So what can you do?
Recently Business News Daily shared a post offering 20 Employee Engagement Ideas That Work. Suggestions include:
- Be transparent, and keep communication open.
- Offer wellness perks, growth opportunities, and role flexibility.
- Provide multiple options for feedback and act on it.
- Make a point to integrate new hires, and celebrate milestones.
No matter what cause(s) employees to disconnect, here are a few resources and ideas to address employee engagement at your organization.
- Gallup: 2022 Guide to Employee Engagement
- Center for Management & Organization Effectiveness: 10 Reasons to Start Investing in Employees (and How It Pays Off)
- Proactive Talent: How To Increase Employee Engagement with Remote Workers
- SHRM advises against quiet firing as a response to quiet quitting and suggests instead that employers conduct informal check-ins. “Stay interviews are critical to engaging employees and avoiding quiet-firing practices.”
- TED: 8 lessons on building a company people enjoy working for.
Engaged employees give you competitive advantage, and investing in them and the things they care about could be the most strategic investment you make in your future profitability.
Want to retain your people and attract new talent but not sure where to focus first? Consult with one of our experts now. We’re always here to help.