As you reflect on events over the last 18 months, what is top of mind? Besides Covid-19, we are reminded of political unrest, cyberattacks, natural disasters (hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, etc.), Afghanistan US withdrawal, climate change, supply chain disruptions and ongoing racial and social justice issues. This is not a very upbeat list, so we need to be deliberate about making a positive difference.
Recently, you may have read about or felt the impact of the “Great Resignation.” According to the US Labor Department, an astonishing 4.3 million people quit their jobs in August. This record number of employees are leaving not just because of vaccine/mask mandates or pay; they’re leaving because they’re burned out, fear for their health, experience disrespect and feel isolated because they are not being listened to or heard.
In fact, according to Gartner’s latest research, “68% of employees would consider quitting their current job and working with an organization with a stronger viewpoint on the social issues that matter most to them.” Leaders who take a stance on societal and cultural issues are twice as likely to retain employees and create a sense of belonging.
Leaders can’t lull themselves into a false comfort believing that all that needs to be said has been said. In fact, having one conversation only touches the surface of what many employees are thinking and feeling. When colleagues are met with silence about inequities and what matters most to them, they consider moving to other organizations where they will be listened to, shown empathy and feel as if they belong.
Don’t get caught wondering where your employees have gone. Instead, take one of the following small steps this week:
💡 Check in with employees one-on-one using a 5-point scale and ask , “I have team members who I count on at work.”
💡 Create a safe space to start each meeting with a “real” check-in with your team.
💡 Call out news stories or issues that impact members of your team and discuss the effect on them and their families.
💡 Remind your team to demonstrate inclusive behaviors.
💡 Prepare questions that will help your employees think through or explore ideas with others. Be sure to come from a place of curiosity, not judgment.
💡 Brainstorm how to encourage diverse collaborations to share ideas. Diverse perspectives lead to solutions that appeal to a diverse customer base.
💡 Share an article, webinar, TEDtalk about equity and inclusion topics and then facilitate a thoughtful discussion.
Silence in the face of injustice, ignorance or prejudice enables ongoing harm and hurt. When leaders have continuing dialogue with their team members and employees (one-on-one and as a group), employees are not only more likely to stay; they will also be more engaged and committed.
For other strategies on creating a more inclusive workplace, reach out to members of the Innolect team today.
Kittie W. Watson, Ph.D.
President & Founder