I was recently on a long road trip and pulled into my regular stopping place, a Starbucks along I-90 near Ritzville, WA. I was hoping to order my favorite drink, a hot chai latte. Although it was only around 3:00 pm, the Starbucks was closed. A sign on the door said “We are closing early due to a staff shortage.”
While a missed latte isn’t the end of the world, we’re seeing similar problems in our healthcare system. The problem is so severe, in fact, that the American Hospital Association recently issued a statement to the House Energy and Commerce Committee calling the workforce shortage in hospitals a “national emergency,” projecting the overall shortage of nurses to reach 1.1 million by the end of the year. And it’s not just nurses, professionals from medical lab workers to paramedics are in short supply too.” (1)
Employers everywhere are struggling to find enough qualified staff. Workforce shortages have restaurants closing close early, shipments are getting delayed, and healthcare services continue to be cut back. The number of job openings right now outnumbers people looking by almost two to one. (2)
The struggle to hire and retain employees won’t improve anytime soon. According to a recent report from Gartner, the pace of employee turnover is forecasted to be 50-75% higher than companies experienced previously, and it will take 18% longer to fill roles than it did pre-pandemic.
Employers, forced to look at their recruitment practices, are getting creative – offering hiring bonuses, increased starting wages, and more. While those ideas are fine and may be a small part of the solution, most employers are completely missing the boat.
In March of this year, Gallup released a study showing that fewer than one in four US employees feel strongly that their organization cares about their well-being — the lowest percentage in nearly a decade. (3)
“Fewer than one in four US employees feel strongly that their organization cares about their well-being.”~Gallup Poll
Add to that the increasing rates of physical and mental burnout. It’s no wonder talented employees aren’t knocking down the door to work for traditional companies.
Today’s employees prioritize their own well-being more than ever.
Yes! Magazine recently shared the results of a survey showing that 47% of employees are more likely to prioritize family and personal life over work than they were before the pandemic, and 53% of employees are more likely to prioritize their own health and wellbeing over work than before the pandemic.
Employees are also less likely to settle for a workplace with a toxic culture. Toxic workplace culture was a top factor in employees quitting, increasing the likelihood of resignation by 10.4 times relative to pay issues. (4)
The result of these changes is the growing phenomenon of “quiet quitting” that made the news after many viral TikTok videos on the topic. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, quiet quitting means not taking your job too seriously. It’s doing just enough to stay on the company payroll while also focusing time on your priorities outside the office.
While we’re hearing a lot about quiet quitting right now, it falls into the broader category of disengagement in the workplace. In a 2018 survey, Gallup found that:
- Barely 1/3 of employees were “fully engaged” in their work
- 53% were not engaged
- 13% were actively disengaged
For workers, it’s what American writer and historian, Studs Terkel calls, “a Monday through Friday sort of dying.”
All of these factors add up to one conclusion: it’s time for a workplace transformation.
So if you’re an employer facing some — or all — of these challenges with your workforce, it’s time to take a step back and ask yourself a deceptively simple question:
“How do we create a workplace that allows our employees, our customers, and our business to thrive?”
- What does that look like?
- How would it feel for employees to work for that type of organization?
- How would it feel for employees?
Get really specific.
This process could take several hours, days, or even weeks, but it’s time well invested.
Identify the areas in your workplace that create friction for employees. Are there duties or processes that drive people crazy? Make a list and begin to identify ways to eliminate those conditions.
Ask your team
One question that can be helpful is to ask your entire team, “If we had X number of dollars to spend on improving our workplace, what would be the first priority?” Have the team vote anonymously and share the results. This can help you develop small pilot projects to find out what works while minimizing risk.
Moments that Matter
Take a look at key moments for your employees. Gartner, an international consulting firm, calls these “moments that matter.” Moments that matter are points in an employee’s career that significantly impact an employee’s organizational experience and perceptions about the company.
Some of these moments include: the hiring process, an employee’s first week on the job, when they request parental leave, bereavement leave, or are experiencing sexual harassment, discrimination, or some type of life change that requires them to contact their manager or human resources department.
If your organization’s leaders demonstrate authentic compassion and caring with their responses and protocols, you will make a lasting positive impact on the employee.
Other key workplace factors to consider:
- Autonomy: Do employees feel like they have autonomy to do their jobs? What are the barriers?
- Ownership: Do employees have ownership in the outcome of their work? If not, how can you increase it? Ownership doesn’t have to mean actual ownership of the company, but how can they own their part of profits and losses? How can their team affect the greater picture?
- Flexibility: Are there ways to create more flexibility in the employees’ roles and work situations? This could be working from home or creating a hybrid work schedule.
- Connection: How can you create more opportunities for your team members to develop friendships and authentic connections at work?
How will you begin improving your workplace? I want to hear from you! Share your thoughts in the comments below.