MonAmI | Employee Retention Platform

Leadership Lessons To Sidestep The Great Resignation

Leadership lessons for Great Resignation

Amid the uncontrollable soar of The Great Resignation and its ungraspable reasons, organizations and their HRs are scrambling for a solution that’ll be long-term. Everything seems to have shifted to an non-traditional territory that many are finding difficult to completely understand or accept. In this situation, what should be the best practices and steps that the leaders should apply to their workforces and work culture to build a turnover-proof people-infrastructure.

Our co-founder Priyanka Goswami talks with Mr Ashok Narain, formerly, Executive Vice President – Pepsico, South Asia, now an independent leadership coach and thought leader developing leaders into their best versions and helping them foster healthy work-culture. In this leadership podcast, he expounds the reliable leadership lessons that can help disentangle this crisis and turn the face of resignation to retention.

Points discussed:

  1. What’s making the employees leave jobs in this time
  2. How to manage this situation
  3. Employees may be misaligned with their goals
  4. How to make them aware of what they seek
  5. Present and future of work: executive enterprise leadership. 
  6. Why organizations need to change their style of hiring new talents
  7. Why organizations need to retain their existing talents
  8. Ensuring employee productivity and efficiency without traditional management
  9. Need for redefining communication and how it should be done
  10. How to exercise equitable work relation with both office workers and remote workers

In this hybrid work mode, how do managers/ leaders ensure that their employees feel a sense of belonging at the workplace?

It has always been imperative that employees are taken care of and there are a lot of employee engagement practices in organizations if they want to drive  productivity, profitability and a great environment to work in. It has existed in the past, but certainly not to the extent that it should have been. If you go back and look at organizations, you know everything has revolved around a work life. So, everything in your personal life has been pushed back and work has become the predominant factor. And because of that there have been a lot of personal sacrifices that people are forced to make.

People  survived that until the pandemic  got them to sit back and reflect. And what came into their  forefront was: Is this really worth it?

You need to be able to drive more engagement with the talents you have in various areas by truly understanding what the needs of the people are today – What are they ready to work for with passion and motivation!

People are questioning the old style of work because of the pandemic, and because they want the autonomy they enjoyed doing side hustles and freelancing. They want to see their careers grow. want more flexible options, and want to ensure that the organization is taking care of their and their families’ overall health.

People also want to know  the purpose of the organization they work in and if they are invested in that purpose : What’s in it for me is what they ask.

So, the communication between the organization and the employer needs to be more vibrant and productive. That’s where the organizations need to focus If they really want to give their workforce belongingness and alignment with them.

How can we go about it organically at ground level? How can we bring that change? If you can suggest some tools and techniques for our managers and leaders.

Increasingly, in my coaching career I’ve found that there is a lot of distortion and  misalignment in terms of what is it that they represent as an individual. As a professional, what goals are they truly seeking?

More often than not if you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, it’s going to lead to a lot of frustration.

So, more so now I would  recommend  organizations to seriously put one-fourth of their investment infrastructure into learning and development structure.

  1. It’s extremely important for organizations  to provide coaching,  mentorship, and flexibility to their employees to work  in areas which ignite their passion and  thinking, where they can upskill their talent and then actually go for systems, processes, roles which really, really excite them.
  2. The organizations should provide growth opportunities for  individuals like the end of the year appraisals, internal job posting, etc. They should carefully match the individual’s personality and traits, both functional and behavioral, with the role in hand.
  3. Being transparent about themselves is another thing  which would really go well with employees.
  4. Organizations need to invest in their culture and have a purpose, a vision, a mission to be able to communicate that well.
  5. And more importantly, they need to be able to walk the  talk. If you’re talking about integrity and  ethics, you need to be able to practice it. It starts with the leadership/managers. Organizations need to demonstrate that to create a sense of trust in people, in that:  this is an organization which is wedded to their philosophies.
  6. Organizations need to focus a lot around employee welfare and well-being in today’s day. Not only for the individuals but also for their families so they are not preoccupied, and can focus completely on the work on hand.
  7. And  finally, the organizations need to be able to take care of the people who are staying back. More often than not,  when you start hiring new people the ones who stayed back tend to get overlooked. Just because they’re staying back doesn’t mean that they don’t have the opportunities. They stayed back and  it’s only incumbent for the organization to take care of them. And to make sure that there’s fairness in the way they are treated, whether it is in terms of compensation packages or flexibility or providing them all the perks and privileges which new hires would get.

How do you see the culture of work 2025?

The power has shifted from organizations to employees – from me to we. And it’s no longer about executive leadership but enterprise leadership.

  1. There’s going to be a lot of changes at a global level, and complex ones at that, as we progress into the world whether concerning  climate change or digital disruption or global challenges and supply chain issues. And therefore the future is going to be about reinventing proactively. You don’t wait for the problem to arise.
  2. How can I do this a little better? What can I do to avoid this  challenge in the future?Organizations will really need to focus on  building that mindset of being curious and challenging the existing status quo.
  3. With the great resignation, there’s going to be a shortage of right talent and therefore the concept of  hiring will become more strategic, definitive and specific rather than general. The whole concept of interviewing has changed. Today we are equipped with tools which can deep-dive into a person’s behavior with leadership styles and their professional abilities. Organizations can get into more  strategic hiring.
  4. Getting good quality talent in the future is also  going to be a bit of a challenge. So, organizations need to invest into their existing talent and retain and upskill them for the future to come.
  5. Create sustainability for your employees. People need to be motivated  for the long haul.
    1. For starters organizations need to make sure that the talent-role fits perfectly, in the sense that it matches. The individual is as excited about the role as the role is  excited to have the person onboard.
    2. Setting clear expectations besides the end of the year business plans or goals like, what drives this business. It doesn’t matter which function you work in,  if you don’t understand  what your organization is doing or stands for,  there is no way that you can really  deliver and contribute as effectively.
    3. Organizations need to work on making their  individual experiences, right from the time they apply till the time they retire – each touchpoint, as exciting as possible.
    4. Create corporate accountability by  increasing transparency in the relationship between the organization and the employees.
    5. Create leadership accountability so the leaders  are  committed to managing and navigating through a more agile and more fluid workforce.
    6. And create  individual accountability. Individuals are going to be increasingly interested in making their own decisions. They wouldn’t want that talking-down attitude which they were used to in the past.
    7. And finally, of course automation. I think organizations will need to be digitally savvy because that is the future.

These are some of the things that constitute the future of work.

When we talk about employees looking for more autonomy in their workplace or in their work style, how do you think this can be achieved without compromising  the organizational authority?

Autonomy often inspires a culture of innovation and allows employees an opportunity to become more self-sufficient. So for executives, this means less time overseeing daily operations and more time focused on strategy and growth. 

But for a company that still hasn’t shifted to  an autonomous environment, the idea of giving employees so much freedom can be a little unsettling.

So the question really is: without traditional management, how can you ensure employees are productive and efficient?

This is your responsibility as the executive as the manager to provide your employees the tools and information that empower good decision making.  Workplace autonomy doesn’t mean employees don’t have to answer to anyone. No, it simply means that they have the ability to work when they want and how they want.

Establishing accountability is critical to drive your own business productivity. Employees should fully understand expectations and what happens if they fail to meet them.

You can complete the task at hand and do it the right way and on time, then you’re OK to go ahead and enjoy autonomy. In other words, you may provide your employees the option to work remotely as often as they like, unlimited vacations or flexible hours, so long as it doesn’t impact the timeliness or the quality of the work.

 You need to use technology, implement project management software, shared calendars, real-time collaboration tools to keep your team on track.

This way everyone is kept abreast of their role within a project and there is a way to track what went wrong with the event if something slips through the cracks.

This is an investment. Please remember we are getting into a completely new age. We are redefining the workspace right now. So it is no longer about doing it your traditional way. Now you have a whiteboard, and you need to connect the dots and redesign exactly how you want business to go through.

You have to also ensure that employees understand specific requirements of the things that require hard and fast rules, for example, guidelines surrounding regulatory and compliance issues, risk mitigation, harassment or any other legal concern. These areas need to be adhered exactly the way they are meant to be without granting employees too much freedom here.

In this hybrid work model what should be the new way for organization or for HRs or leaders to manage the communication?

One thing  that 2020- 2021 has really taught us a lot about is, we need to redefine the way we communicate at work, completely.

  1. As  many organizations transitioned into a remote way of working they adjusted working hours around caring and family needs and communicated primarily using technology instead of face to face. While doing all of this, unwittingly the gaps in our communication tools have been exposed. And if you really want to transition to the hybrid culture successfully you will need to ensure that these gaps are closed out.
  2. Communication is now more asynchronous by default. Many of us have learned working remotely doesn’t happen at the same time for everyone. Today’s world may be always “online”, but that doesn’t mean that your employee should be, or that they should miss important discussions because they are offline or in a different time zone.
  3. Also  when we are  using text and email  it can  become very curt and brisk, and specifically in the context of a hybrid environment clarity and empathy are key components of an organization’s success. Because people are getting used to a new environment so they are very sensitive. Organizations need to ensure that there should be no misinterpretation and there’s empathy and the company values are protected.
  4. Different messages require different formats. While you can do a coaching session on a video call, you may not  like to do a sensitive conversation over a framework like Slack or on a platform with multiple participants.
  5. Organizations need to  relook at their IT budgets in terms of investing into technology,  invest into best practice guides as to how communication should be crafted and how they need to be communicated and what medium to be used so that collaboration, sensitivity, expression, etc. is not misinterpreted.

There cannot be a one-size-fits-all model for every organization. So they need to do it on the basis of what they stand for. It’s extremely important. The heart of the business is communication.

Is it humanly possible to engage with every employee in a hybrid work environment that too frequently and understand the pulse of the workforce?

I think today to a very large extent the answer is, yes. It is possible to connect. Although of course there will be heavy investments required in training and  creating self awareness with the employees in terms of how that needs to be done. And technology will play a very, very large role in being able to do that.

The traditional system of  being able to work individually with each employee is not going to be any more valid, because  people are distributed all over the place. So it’s clearly  going  to be  required to use technology more extensively to connect with people.

How is it possible for an organization where lakhs and lakhs of people are working together, to understand each and every employee?

In any business operation,  teamwork and collaboration is key to productivity. The people need to be heard because people are not completely engaged with your environment unless they feel that  they are being heard and their needs are being acted upon.

  • There is always this divide  in remote or hybrid employees who feel alienated from making decisions and sometimes there’s  a huge sense of dissatisfaction where remote workers feel that  in-house personnel have a distinct advantage over them, and in-office employees who feel resentful of or impatient towards remote workers. So you need to make sure that there is equity. It is  possible to get the pulse of each and every individual by keeping them engaged and  reaching out to them.

 Like doing soft relaunches or a kickoff event for your teams.

Here employees can discuss what a hybrid in-work work environment looks like at their company and what role they will play in it. And each team or department can devise its own team communication charter giving the employees the flexibility to put their own needs up front, and align it with the company needs by which the best productivity is achieved.

And this Charter can include  things like how team members will individually and collectively approach the hybrid experience. The solutions that address team members’ individual circumstances, like, family commitments, commutes or any other personal situation along with their preferred work styles, feedback on their experiences, etc..

You can use all of this Charter knowledge to structure the team’s work and schedules appropriately, and by doing so also reaching out and figuring out what do team members really need from the business and how can they best be attracted and stay engaged.

  • Sometimes you have a problem, by default in-person attendees draw more focus and remote participants might be treated as a distraction or an inconvenience because of the extra work it takes to include them in the experience. So as a result the virtual attendees might not have the opportunity to be active participants in a conversation.

How do you reach out here is by creating a more equitable kind of work environment.

Some companies have recommended the use of a virtual moderator who acts as a second meeting facilitator for the people attending virtually, welcomes meeting participants, handles any technical issues.

  • You need to do polls or arrange breakout rooms. Simple surveys can be a useful way to take the temperature on how well collaboration is going on. You don’t need to save your questions for an annual survey. Instead  ask about collaboration or teamwork through weekly or bi-monthly, let’s say, pulse surveys or through small employee focus groups. Have a lot of multiple forums to collect employee comments — these comments create more dialogue. So this makes the whole experience more inclusive.
  • And finally,  to get these people to collaborate and to be more engaged, you need to bring a little Fun into the workplace environment.

A lot of organizations are crafting fun teams and games  during workplace sessions just to lighten  the environment. They have what is known as non-meeting meetings. Basically these are scheduled times where people just meet up –  manager, employees or even colleagues and chat and this could be from 5 minutes to 20 minutes, but no agenda.

Collaboration is about more than workers on the same team or at a similar level Working well together. It also means having high level managers and actively engaged employees in the decision making process.

The pandemic has blurred the line between work and home. So today we’ve seen each other’s puppies and dogs during meetings. People have bonded  a little more strongly than before, and it’s broken down barriers between  team members, employees and managers.

The bottom line is that  the pandemic and the great resignation have made employee-experience business imperative for organizations  and therefore organizations really really need to strive to better meet employees’ evolving needs using data and technologies to personalize these experiences and ensure people feel supported in moments that matter.

Frequently Asked Questions about The Great Resignation

What is great resignation movement?

The great resignation is people refusing to compromise with so far unfair practices at workplace and quitting their jobs in droves. This movement was triggered by the American Government’s refusal of covic-19 support and benefits to workers.

Who invented the term the Great resignation?

Anthony Klotz, a Texas A&M University professor, predicted as well as coined the term “The Great Resignation”.

Which industries are most affected by the Great resignation?

The sectors that took the hardest blow of voluntary employee turnover are, Hospitality sector — hotels & restaurants and Retail sector.

How long will the great resignation last?

According to Forbes, The Great Resignation is here to stay and likely to continue frenzying employers for 8 years due to its cyclical effect.