How Companies are Capitalizing from The Great Resignation
Did you immediately recognize the David Bowie silhouette, or that our title “Turn and Face the Strange” is an extremely popular line from 1960/70’s album Changes by Bowie?
According to a random and totally unscientific study of ten of our staff, 50% knew both points and 50% had no clue. Not only did 50% not know, but they did not understand the reference at all, and two of the ten even guessed that the silhouette was of Donald Trump. Our groups were definitely divided by age, the younger not identifying Bowie or the meaning, the older immediately identifying Bowie and thinking the reference was clever. This is today’s world of work, diversity of all ages, races, religions, sexual orientations, and much more each with a voice that can be heard everywhere from Twitter to Clubhouse to LinkedIn, and on every kind of device at any time of the day.
Without question, power in the workplace is shifting from full employer dominance towards a more balanced employee/employer construct.
This power shift has been in a state of flux for several decades. Going back to an early part of the information age (late 90’s-2000’s), employers started to feel the constraints of not being able to obtain the talent they wanted when they wanted it. Terms like the “War for Talent” became common and several industries began to feel the power shift in their organizations from employer to employees.
As the gap for talent became wider, so did the empowerment of employees and potential employees propelling companies towards exploring solutions to enhance talent attraction, employee engagement, and employee retention. Initiatives including clarifying company shared values, pay equity, Diversity Equity and Inclusion, managing multiple generations in the workplace, and creating people first Leaders and management practices became critical factors at the forefront of human resources with the C-Suite gaining interest – and then the pandemic happened.
As explained by Dr. Kim Hires in her TikTok video scores of traumatized employees have had the opportunity to re-examine their priorities, and if their jobs or their companies don’t line up, they are leaving. As they learn, grow, and move on they are sharing their sentiments on social media for the entire world to hear and share. Suddenly, the negative Glassdoor reviews that kept the conscientious CEO up at night in 2018 have become a small part of concern as today’s negative employee sentiments are not only crippling hiring and retaining new employees but affecting brands and customers.
Hires explains, “Talent and consumers alike demand trust and transparency from companies. For the first time, we see an unprecedented amount of power being wielded by employees and consumers. Many companies are struggling with this shift because of being led by leaders who do not understand how connected we all are right now and the greater shift that has occurred in society.”
One example is Better.com’s highly publicized mass employee termination via Zoom and the subsequent meeting with the employees who remained. Once you read the story, how do you really feel about the Better.com brand? Especially now as the CEO has recently returned to his leadership position? Now consider how you would feel if Better.com’s current employees came out in defense of their Leader?
In our experience as both Talent Consultants and Recruiting Partners to mid-market and Fortune 50 companies, some companies are excelling, and even surpassing their hiring goals while increasing their retention rates. At this moment in time, they may be the “Outliers”, but their strategies are manageable for the masses. And as a big bonus, those making the “Turn” and “Facing the Strange” are gaining unanticipated wins with long-lasting effects. We call these companies TFR’s “The Front Runners” because they are ahead of the pack in the race to “Be Better”
Here are the Commonalities we have found amount TFRs:
Leadership either is NOT afraid or is Very Afraid of the shift in power from Employer to Employee- Either way they turn and Face the Strange.
Even if they do not articulate it fully, these companies are paying attention and making changes towards a more equitable relationship with employees.
This is most prevalent in early-stage companies when the Founder(s) are discovering just how dependent their growth is on each hire. By necessity, this tipping point carries a lot of weight in creating a real culture of inclusion. Historically, and because of many factors, as companies grow, they tend to commoditize employee value. Where younger, more agile companies have the benefit of ingraining a more balanced relationship from the onset leading to our second commonality…
TFR’S implement Cultural Change, even if it is strange to them.
Simply put, changing company culture can be complex, and as reported in the Harvard Business Review it requires a big catalyst to create real change. TFRs see the Great Resignation as this catalyst. Companies with leaders who value balancing the employer/employee and promoting the change stand out to new hires and increase the commitment from the masses. Evidence of this is cited by the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer stating that 86% of employees expect CEOs to publicly speak out about one or more of these societal challenges, and most employees trust their business leaders over their Government and Media.
The Front Runners realistically know who they are as an organization and own their own unique strangeness. When you know who you are, it is much easier to resist being blown about by every wind of change, and today there are many, many winds of change. Even Diversity, or as it is now known DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) in and of itself is morphing radically.
TFRs know who they are and who or what they aspire to be. This could also be considered the organization’s authentic self. When you are authentic employees know it, prospective employees know it, customers know it, and making that value match with all three is what leads to short and long-term success. As Hires explained, authenticity is vital for the establishment of trust and the demonstration of transparency. Even though their organization may not be exactly where they want to be or may not always perform exactly according to their exact values, TFR’s concentration on getting there and realistic admission of what they are striving to attain is, authentic.
Authenticity allows for errors, missteps, and room for growth. TFRs rely on their core values to assist in their growth and act as guideposts when the wind rolls in.
A good example of this is the outcome of Facebook’s whistleblower testimony to Congress. Many experts and the media predicted a mass exodus of as much as 50% of Facebook’s employees consequently. The large exodus never happened. Some are claiming large salaries and overall compensation at Facebook is keeping staff in place, but if you look behind the scenes you will see that Facebook’s mission to connect the world has been in place for many years, and as the tough winds roll in, Leadership keeps this value at the forefront making it easier for Facebook employees, the recruiting market, and subscribers to keep at least some loyalties in place.
TFR’s implement strategies around their specific values as a normal course of business.
Their authentic values show in the way they manage employees, the way they treat and target their customers, and the way they approach their recruiting market. This is not to say that every consumer, employee, or potential employee is a fit for every company. Rather, it is the acknowledgment of their uniqueness and values that creates the most engaged staff and consumers.
Take the My Pillow company as an example. Since the Founder/Owner Mike Lindell is such an obvious supporter of former President Trump, would it not be wise to assume that someone applying for a position with My Pillow would have values that align with this? Talk about a transparent brand – this year My Pillow is valued at over 500 million. Employees in this new strange world of workers expect their values to align with their employers while the Front Runner organizations not only embrace their authenticity but proudly display it throughout their branding.
The Front Runners see the Strange New World as an opportunity.
Finally, they have chosen to keep on the path of actualization of their authentic selves while they realize and even expect that more changes will be coming. They are not about to wait out the market for employees to return to work because they have been and will continue, to create and address their own recruiting market. And contrary to some popular belief, their main focus is not always about being kinder or friendlier, they are being who they are, and they are attracting staff that is like them. They stay the course because they are the course, and the winds of change only up to their ability to surpass their competition. And whether they are a fit for you or me does not matter because they are a fit for their people and have the right people at the right time in the right place.