You Are Essential

The Great Resignation has proven to be real and is showing no signs of slowing down in most markets across the country. Job resignation is still 23% above pre-pandemic levels. A simple internet search will surface varying opinions on the topic, but in reality, it’s a nuanced phenomenon involving multiple factors. Language is powerful, and in the wake of multiple professions being labeled “non-essential” during the height of the pandemic, there has been a societal re-evaluation of our priorities and how we wish to spend our time as Covid-19 has reminded us of just how fragile life can be. 

Then, of course, there are the “essentials” — employees who worked in grocery stores, public transportation, agriculture, healthcare, daycare, and other sectors and provided critical services we needed the most. For many of these individuals, there’s a disconnect between being labeled as necessary, on one hand, while being expected to work for lower wages in often dangerous conditions with little recognition. On both ends of the spectrum — essential and nonessential — staff are stressed, and for good reasons, and express job dissatisfaction and burnout

It makes a lot of sense when you think about it — the world was turned on its head, most of us are still in some sort of shock, and many of us continue to get our arms around unresolved trauma. As a result, people are questioning their lives and careers and thinking, “Life is too short,” “What am I doing here,” and “Is there a more productive way I should be spending my time instead?”

Consequently, 2022 is the year of the employee where individuals have choice. Given this reality, as an employer, how do you hold onto your most valuable team members and attract new talent? How do you prevent turnover and distinguish yourself as an organization that values its people?

3 Tips to Make Your Talent Feel Essential Regardless of Their Role 

In addition to better understanding how to engage your workforce in a meaningful way, reflect and act on these tips for helping your talent know they’re essential regardless of their role: 

1. Make Them Feel Seen

Feeling seen and even understood on some level is a basic human need. There are some common ways to accomplish this that you should already be doing — getting to know people, learning what’s important to them outside of work, remembering what they tell you, and giving them your attention — but there are some other less obvious ways you can make your employees feel seen, too: Ask for their feedback, express gratitude in detail (more than just the occasional “thank you for your hard work!”), and acknowledge them as people, not just workers. 

2. Understand Your Competition

More than ever, people are weighing their options. As an organization, you should be able to articulate how you are different from your competitors in the job market. A key aspect of this involves remaining cognizant of what your competition is providing on multiple levels— monetary, interpersonal, development and growth, and whole-person benefits. 

3. Move Quickly

Don’t wait to adopt changes suggested by employees to demonstrate that you are listening to their thoughts and ideas. I can almost guarantee that people on your team are re-evaluating their life right now, including career choices. So, don’t hesitate to show gratitude, push forward growth opportunities, and clarify what you can offer. 

The Great… Something!

Call it what you will — the Great Resignation, Re-evaluation, Reflection, Re-organization, Review — but it’s definitely the Great Something. You’ve likely grown used to hearing the phrase “this is an unprecedented time,” but it truly is! “Essential” and “non-essential” alike, people everywhere are stepping back and taking stock of where they are compared to where they want to be. Those on your team need to feel valued and seen — and they need you to respond to their concerns with urgency.