Forget the gloom and doom that headlines on The Great Resignation bring. The phenomenon only signals what workplace experts have known all along about the global talent war – even before the COVID pandemic reshaped the talent economy.
"The Great Resignation signalled to employers that employees are now in the driver's seat," said Robert Hicks, Group HR Manager at Reward Gateway, in a conversation with People Matters. "We're in a new phase called 'The Great Adjustment', the era where employers must adjust their strategy to support a new environment."
Employees are insisting that they work where they feel appreciated, valued and supported, at a company they can trust.
HR leaders must therefore "focus on the inputs" so the outputs will follow. "What I mean by this is simple: If treating our people well becomes our first-and-foremost priority, then productivity, retention and a more engaged workforce will come," Robert said.
Organisations are celebrating Employee Appreciation Day on 4 March. The ultimate goal, Robert said, is to create a "culture of continuous recognition" where employees "feel valued and are excited to show up" every day.
"As we enter The Great Adjustment, HR leaders must adjust their attraction and retention strategies in order to meet employees' needs and show employees appreciation."
More and more, companies today are realising how one-off moments of recognition – such as celebrating an Employee of the Month and Employee Appreciation Day, or holding annual performance reviews and giving out tenure awards – complement and contribute to a more holistic approach that promotes continuous recognition.
But with companies now pivoting towards hybrid work, how can employers resonate with the same message of appreciation for their staff?
"Workplaces are just like any other community we choose to be part of, be it our friendship groups, sports team or gym," Robert said. "We choose them because they share our goals, and we stay involved because we feel like a valued member."
With hybrid workforces, retaining a sense of community at work becomes harder, but there are still areas that HR leaders can focus on that will create a culture worth working for.
"Look at new ways that your culture can drive connections among your distributed workforce, such as using recognition moments to reinforce shared values and build a sense of community, even when not in-person. A culture of recognition offers ways to show appreciation seamlessly and easily in the employees day-to-day workflows."
Robert recommends the following steps:
Encourage manager-led recognition. Empower managers to dedicate specific time each week to recognising someone on their team. Maybe that's setting aside 30 minutes every Friday to praise someone on their team.
Create a digital recognition space. Having a digital space to share recognition can help employees feel less isolated, and more connected to their team members and the wider business. One example of this in action is personalised employee rewards or eCards to share with individuals one-on-one or posted for the entire company to see on the employee engagement platform.
"I often will visit these digital spaces and add on my own congratulations or reactions to help people, whom I may not interact with every day, understand that I see them, and I appreciate them for what they're doing," Robert said.