The Great Resignation — a mass exodus of workers leaving their organizations (and often going somewhere else) is often framed as people leaving for better pay. While compensation certainly plays a part, the most common reasons people leave are unmanageable stress, and also because managers were not prepared to work with them in this new workplace environment.
The two most common challenges organizations face is in having managers who can give timely and well-thought-out feedback, and being able to explain to their employees the method used to make those evaluations. Of course, the other factor – unmanageable stress – is playing a part here too. Managers are just as (if not more) susceptible to stress as front-line employees and how that stress manifests itself is in the inability to take the time to adequately evaluate their direct reports or being able to properly communicate how they came up with the feedback they deliver.
In addition, the most common issue — that employees will resign— not fixing this problem means that managers who stay will only perpetuate this problem throughout the next employee’s lifecycle and may become even more stressed as they see employees leaving and being blamed for something they feel they have no control over. Productivity suffers, the employer brand suffers and a vicious cycle of negativity only perpetuates the problem of managers not being given the time and resources to make employees feel valued and receive the rich feedback they need and desire.
To improve your organization’s ability to retain employees by having them receive better feedback from managers and be more aligned with company goals, you should determine the people, processes and technology you have in place to help managers work with their direct reports. Organizations should ask themselves those questions, along with the following:
Who in your organization is ultimately accountable for monitoring and improving employee and manager communication?
What data and metrics will your organization use to measure the effects of efforts to improve manager communication and feedback?
When and what type of employees are leaving? Is retention suffering more within one employee population than another?
What tools and technology are available to help measure, analyze and improve the communication and feedback between managers and their employees?
What training and assistance is given to managers to help them with their communication methods in new workplace scenarios?
Keep Track of the Cadence and Sentiment of Employee and Manager Communication If something is not measured, it cannot be managed. Before steps are taken to improve the level of feedback given by managers to their employees, it is important to understand the current state of your organization and to define what success would look like, beyond reducing turnover. There are tools and technology solutions that can help with monitoring and generating anonymized, aggregated data on how often conversations take place and how employees are feeling about those conversations.
Determine the Cause of Employee Stress There are a variety of reasons employees might leave and not all of them are related to obvious external factors (although that certainly plays a large part).
It can be useful to put the reasons in two groups: work/life balance and stressful environment go together, and compensation/ growth opportunities/and feeling undervalued also go together. The first group may be caused by factors under your control but possibly not. The second group, however, is completely under the control of the employer. For this reason, it is important to know why employees may want to leave before implementing programs to retain them.
Create Learning Support for Managers to Develop Feedback Competencies and Skills The same tools and technology to help monitor employee and manager communication often generate suggestions for better performance conversations. Beyond that, there are specialized training courses available that can help managers provide more meaningful feedback and help employees see the objectivity in their evaluations. Finally, there are changes to the employee feedback process that will help managers fall into a more frequent feedback rhythm and alleviate the concerns of less timely feedback.