Is the Great Resignation Due to the Lack of Trust?

We hear a lot about the Great Resignation that is currently happening. Millions of people in many countries are quitting their jobs or thinking of moving on in the next year. There are several reasons on the surface that may explain what is happening:

  • People had a chance to evaluate their priorities and work-life balance during the pandemic and realized they weren’t willing to tolerate a job they didn’t enjoy or any sort of toxic environment.
  • Some people simply don’t want to go back to the way it was before and prefer working from home versus returning to their office.
  • Many of the Millennials and Gen Z workforce have a very different mindset and simply don’t want to be tied to the 40-hour workweek and are learning how to create income in different ways.
  • So many employees are experiencing burnout from overwork and mental health issues as the strain of the last two years takes its toll.
  • Vaccine mandates are also a source for a huge exodus as many employees are not willing to compromise their beliefs on this issue.

On the surface, these may seem like very different reasons, and there are probably many other reasons as well. What I see here though is a pattern of distrust as well as a lack of psychological safety underlying all these reasons.

What I have observed in various industries is that in companies where the workforce does not feel valued, many employees are simply fed up and willing to leave, even without another job. This is often due to toxic managers and the lack of trust or not feeling supported. It can become very difficult to find the right staff and the levels of disengagement are quite high.

While in companies where the leaders truly care about their employees, and actively work towards creating an engaged culture of trust and caring, most often the people thrive, especially during tough times.

Companies that have created a high-trust culture, where people felt safe during these uncertain times, tend to not experience as high of an employee turnover. Their employees have felt supported and cared for during these turbulent times and therefore, the loyalty and productivity has increased.

At a recent CEO Round Table dinner I hosted, top of mind for them was having great talent on board in the coming years. Attracting and retaining the right people is vital for the success of any company and even more so now than ever.

If we try to reach the root cause of The Great Resignation, consider looking at it from the trust perspective. When people feel cared for and valued, when they trust their leaders and teams, and when they are aligned with both the values and the culture of the company, employees will be less likely to look for another job. Simply, they feel secure and that they are contributing to a bigger purpose.

When I look at company culture, there are three core elements: engagement, purpose, and trust. A strong foundation of trust makes it much easier to build a highly engaged culture.

So perhaps the focus should be on creating an environment and culture that people WANT to join and to stay with long term. Proactively build a strong foundation of trust. If this is done right, it will be much easier to both attract and retain top talent…and reach the objectives, goals, and vision for the future of the company.

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