A Crisis That Can’t Be Ignored

Ken ColemanBy Ken Coleman6 Minutes

The Great Resignation has left companies short-staffed. And even though the number of remaining employees is still far more than the number of those who left, it’s the ones who jumped ship who have gotten all the attention. But has anyone asked how the left-behind folks are doing?  

It’s no wonder that the employees who’ve stayed with their businesses through one of the toughest times in recent history are now burning out. Seeing their peers leave for higher-paying jobs while they’re left behind, stretching to hold their departments or businesses together, is demoralizing.

In recent research from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 52% of these remaining employees said they’ve had to take on more work and responsibilities. Another 30% struggle to get their work done. And maybe the most haunting stat of all: 28% feel more lonely or isolated.

Overworked. Overwhelmed. Lonely. Burned out.

Those aren’t words you want to describe your employees. That’s an employee engagement crisis knocking on your company’s front door. Actually, it’s more than knocking — it’s smashing the glass to get in. The Hidden Resignation is here, and it’s not hiding anymore.

Employee Engagement Is the Real Problem

Simply put, higher engagement means better productivity, creativity, and profitability. And without engagement, your business is out of gas.

For decades, things were great for employers. People applied. People got hired. Employers held all the leverage from hiring to firing, and that was that. But over time, employees started feeling underappreciated, frustrated, exhausted, and underpaid. And let’s be real here, folks — the American work culture is toxic in a lot of industries.

When the pandemic hit, employers were not prepared for how their employees would react. Many of them had fallen asleep at the wheel. And what do you get when you combine all those pent-up negative feelings employees were having with something as scary as a global pandemic? An employee retention crisis. And employee engagement suffered the collateral damage.

3 Things Employers Should Communicate to Employees 

We see you and want to help

You know the folks who faithfully show up and do the behind-the-scenes work on good and bad days to make sure your business succeeds? They’re the soul of your business, and they need to know they’re seen and that you want to help them. This means you may need to jump in and get a little dirt under your fingernails, even if you have to put in some extra hours. Go the extra mile. It’ll mean the world to them.

We hear you

Your employees need a voice, and that means you need to listen. You need to regularly ask them how they’re doing personally — and again, listen. But if what they say goes in one ear and out the other, you can count on them jumping ship sooner rather than later.

We recognize you

If you create a world-class company culture, are generous and flexible with time off, treat employees like real people with real lives, and recognize them for their successes, that will go a long way. Recognition comes in a lot of forms and requires intentionality to make it count. Sometimes employees just want some old-fashioned, genuine appreciation in private conversation or in front of their peers. But a cash bonus from time to time is another great way to get the point across and say, “You’re doing an awesome job!”

Get Employees in the Right Seats

What does that mean? It means not passing up talented internal candidates for external hires. It’s your job to pay attention to the talent, passion, and mission that’s in your employees. And that means you need to come alongside employees to help them grow their careers at your company if you want them to be engaged and stick around.  

Employee engagement is not about having butts in seats. It’s not just increasing participation rates. It’s when your employees are showing up and actively pushing toward the finish line each and every day. For employees to get to that point, they need to know their employers have their backs and believe in their futures. They need to know you care. Care is the cornerstone of all great company cultures.

The Great Resignation has been an opportunity to hire (and keep) the right people. But even more than that, the Hidden Resignation is a second chance to care for the soul of your company — your employees.