The phenomenon dubbed the ‘Great Resignation’ currently sweeping the globe is too focused on how businesses are affected instead of why employees are leaving.
The truth boils down to the reflection of satisfaction, instigated by the rapid shift in life due to COVID-19.
The ongoing trials and tribulations of the pandemic have caused us all to reflect on several things from processes, communications, work-life balance, and our purposes, personally and professionally.
Mental health, wellbeing, employee engagement, productivity, flexible working, recognition, and appreciation; have all been the focuses for many companies and organizations after seeing, and experiencing many times first-hand, how challenging the pandemic has been on their staff.
The businesses that haven’t made these concepts a priority are finding many of their employees leaving.
Why are employees leaving?
One of the primary reasons employees quit, even pre-COVID-19, is because they don’t feel valued and appreciated.
In a study by Office Team, 66% of employees would leave their job if they didn’t feel appreciated; this jumped to 76% for millennials – which is essential to note as they are becoming the dominant generation within the workforce.
Some reports estimate the total average cost to organizations of replacing an employee that leaves are about 122% of their annual salary.
If vast amounts of employees quit their roles in a short amount of time, the costs will rise exponentially.
Therefore, from a cost standpoint, it pays to appreciate and recognize employees, not just once or twice a year, but consistently.
So, this begs the question, what can a company do to drive retention, reduce the cost of employee churn, and better recognize its staff?
Audit the current company culture
First, consider the employee experience at your company.
Do your managers know their employees well, show empathy, offer a psychologically safe environment, and try to understand the challenges they face?
If the answer is yes, recognition can be successfully introduced.
Displaying appreciation goes a long way in helping great people want to stay within their company, and gratitude leads to improved commitment.
Regular recognition shows employees you care about the efforts they contribute to the company. Employees want to work for organizations that value their hard work, ideas, creativity, and time.
Some will say appreciation is the soft stuff of business, but there is a strong correlation between recognition and business results.
The key benefits of recognition are improved levels of engagement, productivity, wellbeing, reduced turnover, and decreased absenteeism.
William James, one of the founders of modern psychology, wrote in 1896, “the deepest principle of human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”
According to Harvard Business Review, over 72% of businesses agree that recognition positively affects engagement, productivity, and better customer service.
A strong culture of recognition helps to increase employee brand value and candidates are often more attracted to a company that actively values the contribution of employees; this is particularly important in the current war for talent.
At the most basic level of recognizing effort, saying thank you has astonishing powers to motivate others. A simple thank you can not only help retain employees but drive productivity. In some cases, employees are 50% more productive when their managers end the day by thanking them for their efforts.
In Gregg Lederman’s book Crave, he cites Dr Loretta Graziano Breuning, professor emerita of management at California State University, in which she states our happiness comes from “happy chemicals”.
In her book Habits of a Happy Brain, she points to three chemicals in the brain that impact recognition: dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin.
Dopamine produces pleasure triggered by making progress; serotonin affects the mood, triggered by a sense of pride, and oxytocin creates trust through connectedness with others.
To magnify these feelings in your company, start building a culture of recognition.
Start small by training your managers on the power of recognition. HR leaders can ask teams to practice daily recognition with the workforce and acknowledge moments that matter to their employees.
Turning employees into recognition heroes
Another option is to create an opportunity for employees to recognize each other, thereby creating social bonds.
After praise becomes second nature in your company, then consider adding financial and non-financial rewards.
Achievers is a recognition platform that unites our global workforce around our purpose, priorities, and core values.
The platform checked all the boxes – ease of use, integration with our current platforms, a truly global marketplace to redeem points, analytics, and automated notifications and updates.
We also needed it to work on the devices and applications our employees use most; mobile, Microsoft Teams, Outlook, which it does, seamlessly, plus Achievers is available 24/7.
The ease of use, and simplicity of the platform should drive a high adoption and engagement rate.
Recognizing employees for living the values, driving the business forward, and being dedicated to their role is chief for retention and happiness.
But we should acknowledge employees throughout their talent journey for the special moments too.
For instance: their first day at work, employment anniversary, birthday, graduation, retirement, or when they participate in company activities, challenges such as wellness, charity, and referral programs, or go above and beyond their everyday work.
Achievers helps Vizrt Group shares employee celebrations, announcements and encourages recognition among teams. It also highlights our recognition champions.
One of my favorite aspects of the platform is the leader board. It highlights employees that give the most recognition instead of just recognizing the employees that receive recognition. In the past, this was a missed opportunity, and now we celebrate those who celebrate others.
Ultimately, expressing gratitude, appreciation, and recognizing employees are some of the best retention tools for leaders.
Integrating these concepts into company culture isn’t all that hard to achieve but does need to be prioritized.
Improving recognition can increase productivity, retention, reduce the cost of turnover, and make an organization more attractive to talent. And these are just a selection of the many benefits – what more could any business want?
Instead of being fearful of the ‘Great Resignation’ and preparing for the worst, employers should turn inward, reflect upon current processes and cultures, and focus on better appreciating their teams.
A little gratitude can go a long way in keeping employees, whether old or new, and in effect, avoid any significant losses throughout this turbulent time.
As a result, the business will be best prepared, with top talent, for whatever obstacles the future holds.
Global Head of HR
As the Global Head of HR for Vizrt Group, Bernard ensures that the company’s greatest asset, its people, are motivated and engaged as well as attracting and retaining the best talents in a high performance work culture. Bernard joined Vizrt Group in January 2021, most recently from Sony (Electronics) where he lead both Global and Regional HR functions in his nine years with the company.