The devastating effects of COVID-19 have led many workers to reconsider the role that their place of work should play in their wellness journeys. After months of pandemic-induced stress, many workers are realizing that one of the lynchpins to a happier life is a more wellness-centric job. As a result, they are looking for greener pastures.
As employees leave in droves, others feel encouraged to follow suit and search for jobs that support their personal values, well-being, and purposes. Collectively, these forces are resulting in staggering resignation rates, with over four million resignations in August alone, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In response, employers have devoted a considerable amount of time and energy towards developing strategies to stop the flood. However, far less attention has been paid to the pressing needs of the employees who have stuck around. Many of these “remainers” are experiencing wellness droughts and have lost the ability to feel happy about several aspects of their jobs and organizations. While at work, they feel disengaged and emotionally lifeless, leading many to refer to the remainers as the “working dead.”
A sustained sense of organizational joy is essential to productivity, engagement, and loyalty. Therefore, employers must pay close attention to the needs of the remainers and develop strategies to reward them with a job worth being happy about.
A recent study conducted by Perceptyx, an employee survey and analytics company, closely examined the experience of employees who have chosen to stay. Most strikingly, they found that, among those who have remained, around half (47%) felt either neglected or disconnected. Moreover, they noted that this mindset manifested in increased levels of negativity, despair, and indifference. Specifically, they found that the disconnected remainers were significantly less likely to report:
- Feeling a sense of personal accomplishment
- Feeling pride in their organization or a willingness to recommend it to other job seekers
- Being optimistic about the future of their jobs or organization
- Being committed to delighting customers
- Being willing to put in extra effort
- Feeling they can complete essential tasks
- Feeling their pay is adequate
Despite their lack of contentment, 70% of respondents indicated that they plan to be in the same job 12 months from now. Unless organizations act swiftly, these loyal but unhappy workers may inflict irreparable damage.
There are several steps that companies can take to breathe life back into their most loyal but disillusioned workers. In particular, companies should:
Talk about it: Before implementing any widespread organizational changes, employers should talk openly with their employees and provide them with the opportunity to express their most pressing needs. Companies can have a nearly immediate positive impact on employee happiness by making it clear that they are aware of the problems they are facing. Moreover, by gathering individual feedback, businesses can devote their resources to places that are likely to result in significant wellness boosts.
Refine the recruitment process: Many companies have struggled to fill in the roles of the workers who have left, leaving those who have stayed with more responsibilities and less help. Over time, the remainers may become angry, resentful, and frustrated. To combat this, employers must take some of the weight off of the remainers’ shoulders. To do so, they need to hire more employees. If the current hiring processes produce less than desirable results, companies must carefully examine and refine them.
Improve benefits: No matter how good the recruitment process is, re-staffing takes time. Moreover, staffing shortages are just one of several sources of unhappiness amongst the remainers. Many of the other joy depleters can be successfully nullified with a re-vamped benefits package that offers more personalized solutions that meet the modern worker’s needs. Employers should explore the following benefits to address the wide range of concerns preventing the most loyal employees from enjoying their jobs.
- Flexible work schedules
- Education benefits (e.g., tuition reimbursement)
- Pet benefits (e.g., pet insurance, pet bereavement leave, or pet-friendly workspaces)
- Homeownership benefits (e.g., homebuying education seminars or down payment assistant programs)
- Family care benefits (e.g., childcare care reimbursement, adoption assistance, or infertility treatment coverage)