This is for every employer who doesn’t understand why their staff is quitting their company during The Great Resignation.
There has been a significant disconnect between why employers believe their employees are leaving their companies and why staff chose to resign.
What companies need to be asking themselves right now is:
Did our company’s actions build or lose trust with our staff during the pandemic?
If we lost trust with our staff during this time, what did our actions communicate to our staff?
I break down below what each of these actions, consciously or subconsciously, communicated to your staff:
- If you asked staff to come back to the workplace before there was a vaccine…you communicated that their life was less important than their job. This occurred at meatpacking plants across the U.S. during the height of the pandemic, where 45,000 workers contracted COVID-19 in 65 separate meatpacking facilities and 253 people died due to a lack of safety precautions put in place before reopening the factories.
- If you asked your staff to come into work, but you chose to stay at home…that communicated to them that you knew the risk, were willing to risk their life just to get the work done, but you weren’t willing to do the same. For example, Tesla gave workers permission to stay home rather than risk getting covid-19 during May of 2020. Then it sent termination notices. Leaders were allowed to stay home, yet workers were expected to show up or lose their jobs.
- If you had employees that quit during the pandemic and the staff that remained had to take on 1–2 more jobs, in addition to theirs…and they didn’t get a bump in pay or a title change, you communicated to them regardless of how hard they work, it doesn’t really matter.
- If your staff went through a really tough situation like losing a loved one or dealing with a physical or mental health issue…and not once did you check in on them, you communicate that you really don’t care about them as human beings outside of work. You just care about what they can produce for you.
- If you furloughed staff during the pandemic…and then received grants, loans, and government assistance, and your company used that money to do stock buybacks or reward investors over rehiring of staff, you communicated who you actually prioritize and it is not your employees. An example of this is American Airlines, who furloughed 19,000 workers in October of 2020. It did this again with 13,000 additional employees in February of 2021. Then in June of 2020, American Airlines cancelled hundreds of flights, claiming it was due to alabor shortage. “American Airlines has been criticized in part because of the company’s acceptance of billions through the federal Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) bailout to stay afloat during the pandemic crisis while still furloughing employees and paying its CEO nearly $11 million.”
- If you weren’t transparent with your staff about the financial solvency of your company…whether it was going to get bought out or go under, you communicated to them “hey, I expect you to be loyal,” but I don’t trust you with any of this information.
- If your company had record profits during the pandemic…but your staff didn’t see any financial compensation because of this, you communicated “hey, I appreciate your work.” I’m just not willing to pay you for it. This occurred with John Deere, where they achieved record profits exceeding between $5.7 — $5.9 Billion. They spent $2 Billion on share buybacks and their CEO was compensated $15.6 Million, yet workers saw a decrease in benefits.
- If your company was more productive and efficient working from home… and now you are telling them they need to come back to the office in the new year, you communicated that you have control issues. You lack trust that they can get their work done even though they have proven otherwise. So, you have decided it is better to micromanage your employees from the office even if is detrimental to their overall productivity and fulfillment in their work.
- If you expected your staff to be as productive, if not more productive during the pandemic (working from home)…ignoring the fact that they may have had to homeschool their kids or take care of a family member, you communicated that you don’t have empathy for them.
- If you told your staff that you are like family…you communicated that you tolerate dysfunction, lack of boundaries, and gave your staff just one more reason to quit.
If you expect your employees to forgive and forget after this once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, after feeling exploited, used, taken advantage of, and not valued, that cognitive dissonance is going to come back to haunt you.
Find out what you can do going forward to build back trust with your staff and create a psychologically safe workplace that employees want to go back to.
If you don’t take these steps, you may become as irrelevant as Sears and Blockbuster.