Before the Covid pandemic, levels of burnout were already sufficient for the World Health Organization to declare it an occupational disease. Indeed, data from a University of Phoenix survey found that about half of us suffer from burnout at work.
It’s a situation that worsened during the pandemic, with OC Tanner data suggesting a 15% growth in burnout, with an outrageous 81% of employees in the worst organizations suffering from it.
With many of us working remotely during the pandemic, the frequent Zoom calls have given us insight into the personal lives of our colleagues. The challenges of home schooling or caring for sick parents, layoffs and other financial pressures, or, of course, the health risks and heartache that have sadly affected so many have been exhibited in a way perhaps never seen before. It is no wonder that there is an overwhelming desire for more human leadership on the part of our organizations.
“While organizations have a direct impact on the careers of employees, leaders of organizations are often skeptical of the importance they should have in intervening in other areas of their employees’ lives.” write Jim Clifton and Jim Harter of Gallup in their recent book Wellbeing at Work. “How deeply should an organization immerse itself in someone’s life outside of work anyway?” Is it even appropriate for organizations to be concerned with, say, the physical health of an employee or their involvement in the community? “
Of course, as an expert on the future of work, Steve Cadigan points out in earthquake, this bargaining relationship is complicated by the increasingly loose nature of the modern worker. Cadigan illustrates that people today are changing jobs at a rate never seen before.
Indeed, he argues that it is this mobility that gives many of us what we perceive as job security, as this mobility helps us develop an ever-expanding professional network that helps us continue to grow. and find new opportunities.
From an organizational standpoint, however, this creates the inevitable conundrum of investing significantly in people who may decide to move on. Is it really possible to get involved with increasingly cowardly collaborators?
“For an employer, stopping investing in people in case they could move on would be a very short-term consideration”, Sridhar Iyengar, Europe Manager, Zoho Corporation, told me. âOrganizations are as strong as their employees and if they are empowered and knowledgeable, the business will be fine. It is therefore essential to provide an environment where they can learn to recruit and retain the best talent. “
Why we are moving
This is a topic examined in a recent study by INSEAD, which explored it through the lens of employee development. Researchers have explored some of the reasons people leave organizations.
Researchers looked at around 9,500 data points in the United States over a six-year period that included the Fukashima nuclear disaster in the middle. Almost 800 companies were located within 80 km of a nuclear power plant in the United States, with an equal-sized control group located up to 240 km.
The results show that no matter how much companies invest in employee engagement and development, they can often be blinded by unforeseen events, such as the Fukushima incident, which has raised serious concerns among the public about the sector safety and even the potential implications. for the surrounding area. The data revealed significant departures of employees from companies located near US nuclear power plants.
This is important, as many might be tempted to explain the mass departures characterized by the ‘great resignation’ as a one-off phenomenon caused by the pandemic, but research from Citi Global Perspectives and Solutions in collaboration with the Cambridge Center for Risk Studies in Cambridge Judge Business School suggests it would be a reckless thing to do.
The report suggests that our difficulty in predicting such events is due less to their inherent uncertainty than to our inability to adequately remember events from the distant past.
âDue to a myriad of factors, global risks have changed in their frequency and impact as well as in their economic tenacity throughout the 20th century. “ say the authors. âThe average period between crises from 1700 to 1900 was 21 years; since 1960, the interval has narrowed to just eight. Likewise, the interval between major natural, technological and geopolitical disasters has also narrowed as the impacts of these risks have spread globally. “
Much like the INSEAD study, research from the University of Exeter indicates that while it may seem risky, the only option organizations have is to continue to invest in people, even if they may relocate. in new pastures after you have supported them so strongly.
The study also highlights the crucial role of our managers in building loyalty. The results found that employees with a strong relationship with their boss were more likely to feel empowered and subsequently adopt an active attitude towards their work.
“We also found that a good relationship with a boss elicited a greater sense of psychological empowerment and this effect was felt more strongly when the relationship was viewed as important by the employee.” explain the researchers. âFor example, if a staff member receives recognition and praise from a leader, it has all the more impact on how they perceive their own skills the more importance they place on that relationship.
Let people go
Of course, there are also benefits to letting people go, as there is a strong possibility that you can rehire them. However, Cornell University research reminds us of just how fertile former employees are.
At the heart of the appeal of these boomerang employees is the detailed knowledge they have gained from other organizations during their absence. This value is particularly high when this knowledge is that of a competing company. It’s not for nothing that so many companies, especially in the tech arena, place such strict restrictions on where people can go, especially for their more experienced people.
The document points out that the strength of many organizations lies in the various weaknesses that new hires take so long to learn. The norms and routines behind behavior, who to talk to when you’re looking to get things done, and where to go for the information you need. All of this inside information is extremely important to the functioning of an organization, but much of it is only accessible to internal people. However, when employees gain experience of multiple organizations, they become increasingly valuable as they gain a better understanding of this organizational glue.
“We’ve seen this, and people are really knowledgeable and empowered in the modern world, so they’re really aware of what’s going on,” Iyengar continues. âSometimes, even if you provide a great environment, they’ll want to explore something new, but if you provide a great work environment, they’ll want to come back, and we’ve seen that with a number of employees. For example, a marketing manager in Europe left for three years and came back with new experiences.
If job change becomes the norm, then it’s best to keep investing in your employees, supporting them throughout their lives, and being comfortable that mobility will happen, and that can benefit you as a business.
âMaybe we’ve overestimated employee retention and undervalued the power of movement and how it can contribute to a highly connected hub for employees and their futures,â“said Cadigan.