Companies that invest in the relational aspects of the employee experience will be able to successfully attract and retain top talent in the most difficult job market the US has ever seen.
Maine Venture Fund occasionally asks our partners to contribute to content that our readers might find compelling. We are excited to have Lindsey and Julia Coit, co-founders of capital H., share their perspective on the current job market and how Maine companies can respond to the trends.
capital H. is a Maine-based consulting firm that helps remote & hybrid companies develop strategies to attract, retain, and engage top talent by creating human-centric work cultures. The ‘H’ is for human and their mission is to make work a more human experience.
A global pandemic, and now this
Imagine you’re the leader of a fast-growing company in Maine. You led your organization through a global pandemic and now, after regaining momentum, some of your top talent is walking out the door. You’re trying to figure out why they left and how you can prevent others from doing the same. This problem isn’t isolated to companies in Maine, it’s a trend sweeping the country. The good news is there’s a solution for leaders everywhere.
People are quitting
Since April of this year, 35+ million people have left their jobs, resulting in the highest quit rate on record. This mass attrition has spawned a new catch phrase: The Great Resignation. A few big reasons behind this mass exodus include burnout, inadequate compensation, lack of remote work flexibility, and lack of childcare. Faced with growing threats to their bottom line, employers have responded with solutions like more flexibility, increased pay, and more time off. But despite these efforts, top talent continues to walk out the door. It’s becoming clear that something deeper is brewing.
You only live once
Business experts speculate, and data show, that a major driver of this resignation is the “pandemic epiphany”, the realization that life is too short to play it safe or stay at a job where they feel undervalued and disconnected. According to a recent McKinsey survey, employees across industries and regions report that some of the most important aspects of their experiences at a company — feeling valued by their manager, having a sense of purpose, and working with trusting and caring teammates – are being overlooked. Spot bonuses, free lunches and more time off are wilting as effective solutions in the face of our hardwired human needs for genuine social connection and sense of belonging.
Human connection for the win
Shaping company culture is a complex process. But ultimately, culture is the sum of the thousands of interactions between and among the employees at your company. And the overall experience of your employees is determined by the quality – or lack thereof – of those interactions. As a leader, do you know if they feel accepted, seen, and valued for their work? Or if they’re on edge, feeling excluded, or underappreciated? Human-centered cultures place a premium on how employees feel and build their cultures on three relational principles that form the basis for strong relationships: trust, empathy, and belonging.
Together, these principles serve as the invisible engine to help employees form successful relationships at work, at scale. When there’s trust, there is higher productivity, more innovation and less managerial oversight. When people have strong, empathic relationships at work, they are seven times more likely to stay. Where people feel a sense of belonging, there is a better foundation for attracting and retaining talent. What’s good for humans is good for business. It’s a clear win-win.
Successful human-centered workplace cultures don’t leave culture up to chance, especially in a remote environment. Leaders must intentionally and continuously weave trust, empathy and belonging into the social fabric of the company at the individual, team and organizational level. Just ask companies like BestBuy, Warby Parker, and ZenDesk. They have all invested in the relational aspects of their businesses and have reaped the benefits through increased engagement, stronger retention, and happier customers.
Transitioning from transactional to relational
When it comes to organizational culture, we’re in a paradigm shift. Since the pandemic, employees have reevaluated the role of work in their life and raised the bar. What was transactional is now relational. What was ping pong and free lunches are now trust, empathy and belonging. After the fundamentals – pay, benefits and adequate working conditions – companies that want to set themselves apart will invest heavily in the relational side of culture for the sake of its people and bottom line. And while the path to building strong workplace relationships is not straight, the first step is clear: A conversation with key people at your company to figure out what you can do now to retain, engage and keep top talent. Here is a simple guide to have that first conversation. Fair warning, it may cause you to feel a little closer to your colleagues.