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As millions of Americans have spent the past nearly two years working remotely due to the pandemic, many have reassessed what it means to live a good life. An integral and important part of this calculation is the role that work plays in our daily existence. Those in the tech sector, for example, have examined the value of extended working hours, long commutes and insufferable bosses, and are increasingly using the pandemic as an opportunity for change.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from April 2021 to mid-January 2022, “33 million people left their jobs…more than one-fifth of the total U.S. workforce.” And this so-called big resignation doesn’t even include those sitting on the sidelines – who decide to postpone their re-entry into the workforce or take early retirement.
With the increase in the number of resignations comes a parallel increase in the number of vacancies (10.9 million at the end of December 2021, according to the BLS) – a sort of perfect storm. Accordingly, the media portrays the workers as “in the driver’s seat”, the winners of this unwinding, but the fact is that no one has said that all 4.3 million who quit just in December (another times, BLS stats) ain’t I ain’t looking any to work; instead, most seek different work that better aligns with their life goals, aspirations, and values, and look to their next endeavor to be a partner in their pursuit.
The title, then, is not really the Great Resignation, but the Great Reidentification – a rare opportunity for employees and companies to re-examine what it means to have a great career and redefine themselves accordingly. Today’s great re-identification presents a unique opportunity to better capture innovation and efficiency through a company’s most powerful tool: its human capital. Those who do will be set to win against their competition and win big, while those who don’t will be well positioned to lose even more than before.
Related: 4 models of work that will define the post-pandemic world
As tech companies grapple with this new reality, there are certain themes they should address and clearly define.
1. Determine your “Why?”
It is essential to clearly define why someone would work in your company, including what sets you apart. If an article featuring your company appeared tomorrow in a major publication, what would be its title and what media would publish it? Would it be compelling enough to be read by your target audience and set you apart from your competition? Would your current employee base be inspired to share it with their networks?
2. Understand your shortcomings
Any business will have flaws, and that’s where self-awareness comes in. If I were to ask what critics of your company would say, the answers would be the first important things to know. The second would be what needs to be done to close these gaps, and the cost of doing so. This cost could be monetary, but it could also be the opportunity cost of prioritizing solutions over other investments and initiatives. The third task is to implement a plan to address it, with associated timelines and measures of success.
Related: Top 10 Business Plan Mistakes
3. Know your customer
Your employees are also your customers, arguably the most important. They are on the front line and interact daily with your buyers, suppliers and end customers. While the C-level handles the general elements and serves as the face of company-wide transactions, the employee is the front-line voice. Do you know who your employees are and can you define why they chose to work for you? Understanding this can help retain quality staff members, draw them away from your competition, and ultimately improve their customer experience.
4. Define your culture
The focus on corporate culture is perhaps more important today than it ever was, even touted by Forbes in an August 2021 article as “key to retaining talent”. But before a company can address the positive and negative aspects of its own culture, its leaders must understand what that culture is. While its aspirations can be defined top-down, they are realized bottom-up, and the great companies of tomorrow will make the human capital and financial investments to embrace this reality. If there are significant gaps between the company’s idea of its culture and the reality of employees, a larger project to address these organizational issues is likely underway.
5. Determine your “five-year upside”
If you looked at your company through the eyes of an employee, what would be the advantage of developing a career there compared to other companies in your sector? What would your five-year career growth plan look like? Businesses today face the challenge of the here and now – increasing the next round of investment, setting a sales quarter target, and expanding a product line. Employees, meanwhile, are increasingly thinking about their long-term careers and life trajectories, seeking to build foundations today that will ultimately align with the personal and professional lifestyles they want. live tomorrow. And while a company’s goal may be to one day have an exit, that doesn’t necessarily provide the same incentive for a mid-level employee as it does for a founder. It is important that leaders put themselves in the shoes of their employees and be able to clearly articulate the value of choosing this opportunity as a longer-term one, and more valuable than others that will inevitably come their way.
Related: Free Webinar: Increasing Employee Engagement During the Great Resignation
If the pandemic has inspired an upheaval in our world of work, it is not the only driver of the Great Re-identification. Employees were ready for change ahead of time, and Covid-19 became the catalyst for that change. And while the media has repeatedly touted today’s workers as holding the winning hand, the truth is that it was never a zero-sum game between business and employees to begin with. The employee-company relationship of tomorrow is not a competition, but a partnership. Large organizations, winners of tomorrow, are aware of this and are making the necessary investments today to achieve it.