After all the work-related culture changes in the past two years, such as “The Great Resignation,” what is going to make 2022 different?
For one thing, the discussion about the hybrid work model has changed from “if,” to “how.”
The Great Resignation
The great resignation has changed job priorities. Labor shortages are forcing employers to look at the culture they have created. People are realizing they don’t need to sacrifice their work/life balance. And, a lot of industries and old-school institutions have realized they need to restructure if they want to survive.
Time vs Where?
The discussion in 2021 was about where we were going to work. Many companies have already adopted (or are planning to adopt) a hybrid model. With such large-scale changes happening to the number of people who WFH, many companies are now dealing with the fact that a 9-5 isn’t conducive to a hybrid environment. Also now, not limited by distance and location, companies are hiring from many different time zones. Causing the problem (and therefore, discussion) of when will we work. How will companies keep consistent hours, monitor their employees’ output, and keep up effective communication if none of their employees are working on the same schedule?
Skills vs Roles?
One of the main reasons behind The Great Resignation is what is being called the Skill Gap. For years, companies have tried to put together teams of “unicorns.” Unicorns are employees (people) that can fulfill many different roles at once. For example, a graphic designer who ALSO happens to be an IT expert. A lot of the desire for a team of unicorns comes from the need for capable employees who can wear multiple hats. In small businesses, team members often do more than one job, which is fine! This allows companies to be efficient.
With that said, “unicorn” culture has increased the number of skills that are common to hire within a single role. Many job descriptions look for employees that can handle a massive scope of skills and tasks that may not have actually had much to do with the advertised role. This creates a gap between the skills a person could reasonably possess vs what skills or job roles are required for a position.
The Skill Gap
The Skill Gap = skills a person could reasonably possess vs. what skills or job roles required for a position
This Gap is connected to entry-level positions requiring a lot of education or experience. In the past, companies advertise available positions with a list of skills “preferred” that cover many different specialties and job roles. I’m sure that the initial reason this was done was to explain to prospective employees all the things that the company was looking at in case they had any of those skills. As time has gone by, however, many companies started only hiring candidates that had all the skills. This has created a work culture that builds jobs that require skills that are impossible for any single person to possess.
With so many people quitting these jobs, how can employers adapt their companies’ roles to prevent this from happening?
Employers can ask themselves:
- What skills do I actually need someone in this role to possess?
- Do our employees truly understand what is required for their role?
- How can we incentivize our employees to deliver what we expect from them?
- Did we consider employee interests and preferences when creating this role? And what type of person would actually be a good fit for this role?
- When building a team, are personalities or skill sets more important?
- Are our managers trained to view employees as assets and tools to complete a task or as multidimensional people with fluctuating abilities and skills?
Resilience vs Efficiency?
Pushing employees to be as efficient as possible is for the short term. But building roles and an office culture that focuses on maximizing resilience will help employees be more efficient for longer. Resilient employees are less likely to burn out and less likely to create friction within a team. What are some ways to build a resilience-driven office culture?
Understand what challenges are likely to come up. Are there tools or resources available to employees to deal with these challenges? Give employees tools such as checklists, guides, and accessible mentors to help them feel more prepared to deal with challenges. It is much easier to face, adapt to, and conquer challenges if you feel prepared to tackle them.
Combating “The Great Resignation” – Where to start?
A good place to start is by developing SOPs. Standard Operating Procedures are written guides for how a company deals with tasks, decisions, and day-to-day operations. Having this information be written and easily accessible makes it easier for employees to follow the procedures and therefore create a more cohesive environment.
SOPs also help new employees understand what is expected of them, both as employees and within their roles. Knowing what is expected will help them weather challenges.
Another helpful resource to give employees to build resilience is a list of people who within the company they can turn to for help. Knowing who to ask for help takes away the fear of having to figure out a problem on your own or unnecessarily burdening the wrong person. We all want to help but if we are the wrong person for the job, we can waste our time and the time of the person we are trying to help.