Companies Should Lean Into the Great Rethink


The Great Rethink is a term being used to convey an alternate viewpoint to the Great Resignation. This alternative places an emphasis on the fact that many employees are taking a new look at their relationship with work. People are reexamining how their current job impacts both their career and their personal lives. This fresh assessment is guiding them to either stay where they are or look for a new job that better aligns with their priorities.

With job openings at a record high, employers must also reevaluate their own relationships with workers if they want to attract and retain the talent they need. Three lessons we learned during the shift to remote work can help companies better navigate the Great Rethink.

1. Flexibility is key.

During the shutdowns, the shift to remote work forced managers to change how they lead their teams and how work is done. It may have been rough at the beginning, but management styles adapted and technology stepped up to fill the gaps across the digital divide.

Companies soon came to realize that remote work productivity either stayed the same as in-office work or actually improved. The fact that remote work does not negatively impact productivity is backed by numerous studies done during the shutdowns as well as recent research.

Workers are well aware of this, and it's helping strengthen their resolve against back-to-the-office mandates. Workers want the flexibility of choice. Attempts to force employees back to the office are meeting strong resistance. Studies from the ADP research institute showed that 64% of employees surveyed would consider looking for a new job if the company adopted a return-to-office mandate. Meanwhile, WFH Research's recent survey shows that 35% of workers surveyed did not feel there would be consequences for failing to show up to work in-person as much as required.

Companies need to keep their eyes on the real goal. Where the work is being done is not important. That the work being done is quality work performed by enthusiastic employees is what matters. That's the goal. People filling seats in a building at specific hours of the day should never be the goal. Rather than prescribing rigid rules on where work should be done, companies should make guidelines that have an abundance of clarity on expectations and accountability. Projects must be finished and deadlines met—but where the work is done to meet those deadlines should not be where management puts its focus.

2. Employee-first values are pivotal.

People don't stay where they don't feel valued. Businesses must shift to a people-first mentality when it comes to managing their employees. That begins with creating work environments that maintain high levels of engagement. This is key to understanding the changing needs and concerns of workers. You must actively solicit feedback, not wait for it to come to you. Then you need to be willing to act on that feedback. Be prepared to update policies and change how things are done to meet the current needs of workers.

Managers should promote an environment of openness. Let team members feel comfortable asking questions to get both guidance and feedback. Set open office hours on shared calendars and let the team know that these are times for anyone to come and have a private setting where they can speak freely about concerns, expectations or any issues they want to discuss. Managers should never be siloed. Be accessible and active in Slack channels and on other collaboration apps. Show yourself online and available to the team on the apps they use to communicate with each other.

Build on employee recognition. Recognition and showing appreciation for a job well done are not only huge motivators, they also boost employee confidence and morale. Feedback — followed by recognition and appreciation — helps team members know they are on the right track. It helps them feel valued and increases their job satisfaction.

3. Aligned goals are a must.

Companies have been accustomed to putting the goals of the business first. But in today's world, organizations must be prepared to pivot and look for ways to better align the goals of the company with the goals of its workers.

Employers want a commitment from people they hire, but employees want a similar commitment that goes beyond just a paycheck. They want a company that is committed to them and their longer-term goals. Focus on mutual goals that align with both company growth and the employees' careers. Higher levels of engagement will help you discover what each worker is looking for in regard to personal and professional development.

Many people are looking for opportunities to learn new skill sets and expand their current roles. Some want the chance to be mentored in soft skills such as relationship building and business networking. Creating mentorship programs pair up these desires with the experience of other team members, which helps the company as a whole. It builds a cycle of first-hand knowledge and insights that continue to flow through the company culture.

Such revamped employee development roadmaps can not only improve overall job satisfaction but also increase the value of each team member.

Employee expectations have shifted.

A recent survey by McKinsey shows that 40% of employees surveyed are planning to quit their jobs. This should be a wake-up call to all employers. Companies must take what we've learned from the past few years and remake the work experience into something that benefits everyone involved. The mistake would be trying to go backwards. We cannot simply return to the ideals and management methodologies held high in the pre-COVID workplace.

Companies must have a stronger focus on employee well-being and their mental health. Take proactive steps to help promote a stronger work-life balance for your team. By actively soliciting feedback, maintaining open office hours and staying engaged with teams, management can gain more insights into what employees are experiencing. Now more than ever, companies need to realize that the employee experience is pivotal to the future of work.