employee engagement

scary employee retention stats - female employee holding head down at desk

Scary Employee Retention Stats 2021

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January 17 @ 3:20 pm CST

The costumes have been put away. The haunted houses have closed. Attention has shifted from watching horror movies to watching for Black Friday deals. Halloween has ended, but there’s still much to fear. Since 2013, our firm has celebrated Halloween with its Scary Stats campaign, reporting on the scariest workforce stats of the year. This year was no exception — but this year we’re not in a rush to turn our attention elsewhere. Why? Because the frightening fact is, in the eight years since we started publishing Scary Stats, there’s been no improvement. And this year, scary stats took on a whole new meaning when a record-breaking 4.3 million people quit their jobs within a 30-day time span, and 10.4 million job openings remained unfilled. Even before we started publishing Scary Stats, we knew this moment was coming. In the year 2000, Gallup reported employee disengagement hit an all-time high. Companies started throwing money at research and perks and created new office spaces in an attempt to improve employee engagement, yet the stat remained unchanged. For 21 years, we raised a restless, unhappy workforce. Now, our creation is a full-fledged adult. And like a negligent parent, we’re reflecting on the last two decades with awe and regret, wondering what we created and kicking ourselves for not paying closer attention. These two stats help to tell the story behind the making of this frightful mess commonly referred to as the Great Resignation: The difference between executive and median employee pay continues to increase. CEOs now make 299 times more than the average worker. In 1965, executive pay was 24 times worker pay. In 2017, it was 275 times. Flexibility emerged as a workplace value when Millennials started entering the workforce in 2000. Consistently, 92% of this generation has said they expect employers to provide flexible work environments. In 2021, Deloitte reported 82% of companies now see flexible work arrangements as critical to employee retention, but only 47%…

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Let’s Talk About X – and Y and Z: How to overcome a fear of age diversity

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January 17 @ 3:20 pm CST

A friend recently posted a photo of her five-year-old daughter playing with teddy bears and Barbies, just as children have done for many decades. But there was something different about how the treasured toys were lined up and the child was holding a thermometer. As it turns out, she was playing COVID hospital. We’ve all been impacted by the pandemic. It is an unprecedented, shared global experience and a defining, historic moment. But we have not been impacted the same. What children learn and observe about the world at an early age is hugely influential to their development. During those brain-developing years behaviors, values, and attitudes are shaped. Like trees, we mature, and adapt to outside forces, but the foundation from which we start is always there. Our roots are ever-present and undeniably strong. This is how generations are formed. Shared childhood experiences lead to the formation of similar responses to those experiences. Regrettably, there have been efforts to squelch the exploration of generations, with some people believing the practice leads to stereotyping. Other pundits have referred to generational research as a waste of time, believing all people are more or less the same. While I can appreciate the intent to rid the world of stereotypes and find similarities, there’s a fatal flaw in each of these arguments: Inclusion doesn’t happen by ignoring our differences. It can only happen when we learn to recognize, understand, accept, and celebrate our differences. Here and now, in the aftermath of the George Floyd incident and #MeToo movement, conversations about race and gender have become more prominent, and equity initiatives have edged closer to the forefront of priorities for social change. But all too often, conversations about age diversity are considered too controversial and too difficult, and the perspectives of younger generations consistently end up being dismissed or ignored. Delve deeper and you’ll understand why: Young people are the personification of change. They are a reminder change is necessary and…

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How to Bring Belonging Back

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January 17 @ 3:20 pm CST

Early in my career, I was recruited to sit on an association’s board of directors and given the opportunity to spearhead a priority initiative for the organization. I was thrilled and jumped at the opportunity to take on such a prominent role. Imagine my disappointment when I attended my first board meeting and the initiative was tabled. The next several meetings I attended, the initiative continued to be backburned. It wasn’t long before I found myself feeling frustrated, unappreciated, and overlooked. My admiration for the association and passion for the project waned. I felt like I no longer belonged. Feeling like we don’t belong is a feeling we can all relate to, yet many organizations are struggling to foster a sense of belonging – and have been for quite some time. We know this to be true because most associations have reported declining membership trends for the past decade, just as employers have reported declining levels of employee engagement. And here and now, the workforce turnover is so massive, this era is being referred to as the Great Resignation. Belonging by definition means two things: ownership and a secure relationship. We feel like we belong when we’re invited to actively contribute and share our opinions and ideas, and we are listened to, respected, and positively encouraged. In the late 1990s, belonging began to transition. From workplaces to membership associations, the same trend was observed: Young people were less likely to join/stay/engage/renew. In other words, young people were less likely to feel like they belong. Why the sudden shift? And why have so many organizations struggled to re-engage young people? I’ve spent a lot of time researching this trend in an effort to find the answers. The answer is quite complex, but here’s the condensed version: The shift in belonging is a direct result of significant social change and the era during which younger generations have come of age. Young people are wary of forging connections and…

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Losing Our Empathy: How to Team-Build When People Could Care Less

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January 17 @ 3:20 pm CST

Blame it on a 24-hour news cycle, social media, corruption, the increased use of profanity, or savage political campaigns, but one thing has become very apparent, we have lost what connects us to each other — our empathy. Whether we’re arguing about politics or vaccinations, guns, or abortion, or which lives matter most, our society has been unable to successfully cooperate or community-build for quite some time now. In my line of work, this means more clients calling with concerns about teambuilding and inclusion. Employers are observing increased conflict and lower tolerance. Young employees are less likely to stick around in a setting like this, so the lack of empathy is also contributing to turnover. Empathy is the ability to emotionally understand what other people feel and how they see things from their point of view. Empathy leads to compassion and the desire to care for or help someone else. And our empathy is currently missing. New scientific research revealed adults today are caring less for others and more about themselves — and this has negatively influenced youth and young professional development. According to the research from Indiana University, declines in empathy among young people started happening in the early 2000s alongside a rise in mental health problems. Both outcomes are believed to be directly associated with burn-out. With the mainstreaming of technology, shifts in parenting and education, and a greater social emphasis on competitiveness, testing, and success, children were facing challenges earlier generations didn’t face. Researchers believe this generation’s self-care and care for others was backburnered to focus on personal success and survival. Here and now, children are observing communities in conflict, even during a global pandemic. Time will tell how this experience will influence their development, but the research indicates the conflict and lack of compassion is already more prevalent among adults than at any other time in history. The questions at the top of mind right now for many leaders and teams is:…

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The Price is Right: Why Higher Salaries Won’t Single-Handedly Solve the Workforce Crisis

January 17 @ 3:20 pm CST

Six years ago, Dan Price, the founder and CEO of Gravity Payments, set off a media firestorm when he raised the firm’s minimum salary from $35,000 to $70,000 and slashed his own $1 million salary down to $70,000. He was hailed a hero by some and harshly criticized by others. Many analysts predicted the company would soon be bankrupt. But that has not happened; instead, the company is thriving. Six years later, revenue has tripled, the number of employees has doubled, the turnover rate was cut in half, and both the starting salary and CEO salary remain at $70,000. Here and now, wage increases are top of mind as employee turnover is skyrocketing and prospective employees are being wooed with higher starting salaries and sign-on bonuses. Undoubtedly, pay raises are needed. The wage gap is significant. According to the Economic Policy Institute, average CEO compensation is 320 times more than the salaries of their typical workers. (Six years ago, it was 265 times.) But make no mistake about it: money can’t buy love. For 20 years, Gallup has reported 70% of the workforce is disengaged, and companies have thrown money at the problem investing more than ever in perks and bonuses to try to reverse the decline. Yet, employee engagement hasn’t improved. At all. If money isn’t having the desired effect, what will? Trust. The organizations thriving and successfully engaging employees are trustworthy. Specifically, employees believe their leaders are credible, honest, and fair, and that their leaders respect them. Some people will read Price’s story and only see dollar signs. Those people are missing it. Employee engagement can’t be bought. While fans and critics alike marvel at Price’s pay structure, that’s only half the story. His team has been referred to as fiercely loyal which can only come from a trusting, people-first workplace culture. Here’s how one employee described Gravity Payment’s leadership during the pandemic:   “They didn’t do any layoffs. They didn’t raise merchant fees. They let the…

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Kick the Quit: Why Work Isn’t Working and What to Do About It

January 17 @ 3:20 pm CST

The Great Resignation. The Talent Tsunami. Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the speck of sand in our eyes – it stings, it’s anxiety-inducing, and it’s become impossible to ignore. We knew this moment was coming. For decades, government leaders and demographers warned organizations to plan for the Baby Boomer retirement wave. For the past 20 years, Gallup has reported high, unyielding rates of employee disengagement. Then the turnover rate among young professionals hit a historic high and retaining talent was cited as the top management challenge globally. Work hasn’t been working for a while now. The pandemic made an already miserable and fleeting workforce rethink their career and life trajectories and take action. As a result, a record-breaking 11.5 million workers quitting their jobs within a three-month time span – April-June 2021. (U.S. Dept of Labor) This is just the tip of the iceberg. Studies indicate several thousand more workers are likely to jump ship within the next 3-6 months. It took time to get into this mess, and it’s going to take time to get ourselves out of it. Best to start working on work immediately.   To engage people is to understand them, and that can only come from time spent in a relationship with them   As with any crisis, addressing the situation is best achieved once one understands what is causing it. I’ve spent the past two decades researching workforce engagement trends and it all comes down to three undeniable truths:   We inherited institutions designed for the 20thcentury, which are unable to cope with the mounting pressures of constant change and disruption in the 21st century. When leaders fear change and struggle to be open to new ideas, technologies, or people, employees immediately disengage. Appreciation, respect, care, trust, and a sense of teamwork and belonging are considerably more influential in an employee’s decision to engage than compensation, benefits, or workplace perks.   Employees are more unhappy and more likely to leave because many leaders and…

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