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Meaning Tied To Purpose: A Strong Defense Against The Great Resignation

by Julie Tuggle-Nguyen

It would be more than safe to say that these are unprecedented times for
employers. Remember when you were fully staffed and, for the most part, employees arrived at the office at 9ish and left seven and a half hours later? Remember how excited everybody was when you announced summer flex hours? That was then.

For now, many of us may still be struggling with staffing shortages. We have stretched beyond what we ever thought was possible to provide the flexibility that allowed people to get their work done in concert with the demands on their lives. If you told me that Midwest BankCentre would transition from having no employees working remotely to more than 80% of the team working from home offices within three weeks of the shut down, I would have said it was impossible. But as a company, we’ve embraced remote work, and it is one of the reasons why we were named a Top Workplace. We were able to reinvent our workplaces and policies to allow our team to optimize their professional and personal lives and meet the needs of our customers. Now, like many of you, we are reinventing ourselves again to come up with hybrid solutions.

At the same time, we are reading headlines about the Great Resignation; people quitting their jobs in record numbers, 4.4 million in September alone. That is on top of the U.S. Department of Labor reports showing that during the months of April, May, and June 2021, a total of 11.5 million workers quit their jobs. And if those numbers aren’t worrisome enough, according to Gallup research, 48% of employees are actively looking to make a change.

In part, the Great Resignation is about purpose and meaning: is my work im-portant, does it have impact, am I making a meaningful contribution to my family, the company, our customers, to my community?

I have previously written about purpose as a powerful tool in hiring and retaining top talent. In a sense, purpose is the cumulative effect of meaningful work.

One of the reasons people quit is that they don’t feel a connection to the company and understand the impact of the work they do. For business owners and frontline managers, you can motivate your team by helping them understand what they are there to do and how their job ladders up to purpose. They want to know that their piece of the puzzle is important, that their daily work has an impact. Meaning is derived from feeling like you are valued for the part you play in fulfilling the purpose of your organization.

Frontline supervisors are critical to communicating these messages. They are the single most important relationship an employee has at your company. People join a company, they quit their manager. The manager’s relationship with an employee can make or break the work experience and centers in the things we all know. It’s trust, it’s basic security that you are going to say what you mean and do what you say. It is rooted in mutual respect. As you are considering your workforce, a few things to keep in mind:

- How do your frontline managers build trust and connection with your employees? Do they fully understand their impact and therefore their team’s impact? If not, start there.

- Are you tracking employee data within your organization? Do you have a turnover problem? Can you find any common denominators such as length of service, department or exposure to senior leadership?

- Can everyone in your company identify one or two key metrics or goals for the org? This can be a great way to make sure key messages become part of the daily discussions.

These are not groundbreaking concepts, but they are vitally important. A recent issue of Forbes magazine reported on a study that showed that nearly 80% of respondents said that they would rather have a boss care about them finding meaning and success in work than a 20% pay increase. Motivation at work doesn’t have to be the same for everyone, but in every case, employees want to understand where they fit in, and that they are part of a team. They want to connect to their manager in a way that is meaningful to them. And above all they want to know that their efforts have an impact and are purpose driven.

Julie Tuggle-Nguyen is EVP of Human Resources, Midwest BankCentre.
 

Submitted 13 days ago
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