This year, as pandemic-weary businesses struggled to fill empty jobs during a hiring crisis, a shocking statistic came out: 41 percent of current workers worldwide were considering quitting.
Some of these workers are in jobs that have been hit especially hard during the past 18 months, such as nurses, doctors, and other employees in healthcare. Some are finding that they love remote work but their companies aren’t willing to accommodate their newfound flexibility. Some are looking at the current job landscape, realizing that employees hold all the cards at the moment, and taking the leap accordingly.
Whatever the reason for the current migration patterns of workers around the world, leaders should take another look at what they can do to retain talented people. The number one change leaders can make isn’t expensive. In fact, it’s free: appreciation.
Appreciation is the single greatest action you can take as a leader. It’s your job to make the people around you feel heard and seen while making them look good, too.
Appreciated employees are stars:
• They are less likely to leave their jobs
• They are more likely to perform well
• They report better morale (and even better health) in the workplace
In fact, heartfelt appreciation means more to employees than financial incentives. So how can you use this basic tool to encourage and motivate those around you?
Audit your appreciation. How often do you reach out to your employees and sincerely compliment them on their work? If this isn’t already on your daily task list, make it number one.
Be authentic. Appreciation can take many forms. I refer to myself as the “book bully” because I’m forever buying reading materials for the people around me — it’s my way of showing that I understand them and their interests and have taken the time to find share something of value with them. You might choose to make a phone call, stop by the employee’s desk, leave a heartfelt email, drop off a handwritten card … Whatever you choose, make it something that feels comfortable and sincere to you.
Allow for feedback. Do you have a dedicated way for employees to voice their concerns, either anonymously or in person? What do you do when a team member shares a worry with you? Listening sincerely and letting those around you know that you hear them is a huge part of making them feel appreciated.
Encourage teams to accept rewards. How does your team celebrate its achievements? Do they write it off and get back to work, only to trudge through the next task? Permission is powerful — make sure your employees understand that they deserve to pat themselves on the back and to accept recognition from others.
These actions are great for the people on your team, but they’re a powerful practice for you, too. The act of giving thanks makes the person expressing gratitude feel happier. Gratitude creates a positive feedback loop that can unlock productivity, boost morale, increase satisfaction, and even improve health.
Even before the pandemic, workers were shouldering more responsibilities than they were a decade ago, checking emails after hours, and blurring the line between home and work. It’s time to step up our encouragement and support — and make ourselves happier in the process.