The Great Resignation is showing no signs of slowing down, with the number of Americans quitting their jobs hitting an all-time high of 4.5 million this past November, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Employees in both blue-collar and white-collar industries are resigning in droves, leaving management wondering not only how to address staffing shortages, but also why they are struggling to retain the workers they have.
While some of the reasons people quit their jobs aren’t surprising, such as better pay or robust benefits, more and more employees are considering toxic work environments as a reason to resign. A recent analysis of Glassdoor company reviews found that a toxic work culture or environment is more than ten times more likely to make someone quit than dissatisfaction with compensation.
When leading a company, whether small or large, management needs to determine if their workplace could be considered toxic by their employees. With your workplace in mind, ask yourself the following questions to determine your company’s work culture. Depending on your answers, you or your company may have some work to do.
Nobody enjoys being micromanaged or having that feeling that their manager is hovering nearby, seeking to control every aspect of their workflow. It gives an impression of mistrust as if the worker can’t be trusted to do the job they were hired to do. In fact, 69% of workers said they have contemplated quitting due to a boss who micromanages, citing its negative impact on both morale and motivation.
It’s common for managers to refer to their workers as a team and frame successes and failures collectively, but this approach can have drawbacks. Acknowledging a worker who has done an exceptional job and giving them some praise from time to time is important as it assigns tangible value to their work. Employees want to know when they’ve done a good job, and nearly 80% of employees who leave their jobs cite a lack of appreciation or recognition as a factor. At the same time, neglecting to address a consistently underperforming employee and allowing their coworkers to pick up their slack can adversely affect office morale. Everyone should feel comfortable that their work is held to a consistent standard.
As a leader, you must be ready and willing to address unprofessional behavior from anyone, regardless of their position. Failure to do so can set a messy precedent that can be hard to recover. It’s particularly important to be mindful of what kind of discussion and interactions are permissible in the workplace. What a manager might consider “casual,” an employee might find awkward, offensive, or even view it as harassment.
Consider establishing a workplace feedback system through which employees can safely and anonymously report behavior or experiences that run counter to your company’s culture. Having an online portal or similar avenue for employees to express concerns can foster a trusting relationship between employees and management and serve as a well for new policy and procedure ideas.
It is a great feeling when a team hits or exceeds its goals, and while good managers should receive a due amount of credit for, ideally, overseeing everything that led to success, they should not be okay taking all the credit. It’s fine to accept praise or gratitude from clients or coworkers, but if you know that your team pulled long hours to meet a deadline, for example, be sure to recognize their contributions, as well.
Accepting responsibility when things go wrong for your team is the mark of an exceptional leader. While a manager should be able to share in the glory of their team’s successes, they should also be prepared to admit their role if the team falls short of meeting its goals. After all, it’s the manager’s responsibility to make sure employees understand what’s expected of them and understand what they need to be productive and successful.
You may have heard the following saying recently: people don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses. While it isn’t always as simple as that, there is some truth there. Employees generally look to managers or other more tenured coworkers to set an example and show them what’s expected of them, what’s tolerated in the workplace, and what isn’t. They also tend to look more favorably on managers and supervisors who are interested in proactively identifying and addressing problem areas as, or even before, they arise.
Now is the time for companies and managers to consider making serious changes to their company culture and policies, including implementing a well-organized employee feedback system that allows for a prompt managerial response. Such a system can dramatically improve employee loyalty, thus leading to higher retention rates in a time when that is of utmost importance.
Tom Miller is CEO of ClearForce, an organization that protects businesses and employees through the continuous and automated discovery of employee misconduct or high-risk activities.
The American workforce continues to feel the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Great Resignation. At the end of 2021, U.S. job openings stood at nearly 11 million, and over 4 million people quit their jobs in December alone.