Real Leaders

4 Ways to Re-Engage Employees

The past year has seen assaults on democracy, COVID-19 variants, Juneteenth celebrations, Squid Games, congressional deadlock, and the beginnings of the Great Resignation.

It was a year in which we debated coups and conspiracies, vaccine safety and efficacy, critical race theory, the causes of burnout, and why so many people want to leave their jobs en masse for the first time in living memory. Unfortunately, four leadership proficiencies are missing from the discussion right now that must be prioritized for 2022 (and beyond), which will allow us to turn the page on the past two tumultuous years.

One of the most asked questions today is: What can leaders do about disengaged employees leaving companies for greener (or different) pastures? The numbers are discouraging, with 95% of employees thinking of leaving their current employer according to a recent Monster.com survey.  And according to The 2021 People Management Report by The Predictive Index, “63% of those with a lousy manager are thinking of leaving within the next 12 months.” On top of these record numbers, inflation is rising, gas prices are out of control, and relief packages from the pandemic are expiring. At the same time, COVID-19 variants continue to mutate and increase across the globe. 

In these challenging moments, CEOs, founders, and managers need to turn to positive psychology and strengths-based leadership — concepts that have a record of creating conditions for success. 

 It’s time to tune in, listen, and validate the messages that these new trends are delivering. Employees in this buyer’s market prioritize purpose over paychecks, development over ego, coaching over bossing, ongoing conversations over annual reviews, growing their strengths instead of obsessing over weaknesses, and a work-life integration over workaholism. Here are the four key leadership attributes that can transform your workplace and re-engage employees.

Trust

According to Gallup, “Employees who trust their leadership are twice as likely to say they will be with their company one year from now.” Trust is all about authenticity, reliability, credibility, and interest in another person’s success and development while minimizing one’s own self-orientation. Leaders can gain, repair, and increase trust among employees by being transparent about difficulties and not cutting corners or taking shortcuts. Above all, seek to help your people thrive despite a negative environment.

Compassion

Compassion revolves around positivity – meaning that a leader will help uplift everyone in their care. Compassionate leaders augment their positive impact by being exceptionally calm and courteous, making others feel good, and communicating regularly that they care. They acknowledge good performance early and often and listen to others describe their goals and ambitions. A Gallup survey found that “51% of employees would change jobs for one that offered them flextime and 37% would do the same for a job that offered them the ability to work from anywhere (at least part of the time). The future of work will most likely be more employees working remotely.” Leaders with a strong ability to adapt to this new reality and show compassion will improve employees’ performance and increase their value in the workplace.

Stability

Stability means a leader’s ability to create a culture of security, strength, support, and peace. People need to know their jobs are safe — if indeed they are — but they also crave knowledge about an organization’s future. Research shows that only 22% of employees strongly agree that their leaders have a clear direction for the organization – and that was before the pandemic. There can be no stability without radical candor, which includes confronting the brutal facts of a given situation and then providing the steps to recovery with clear expectations for everyone involved. It’s always good practice to keep employees in the loop on their performance, good or bad, because people need and deserve to know what they’re up against. Besides, challenging times bring people together, and that’s what influential leaders have used over centuries to uplift, innovate, and inspire. 

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Hope

Hope is a leader’s ability to give others a sense of direction, faith, and guidance, making them enthusiastic about the achievable future. According to Gallup, “Hope is significant because employees who strongly agree that their leader makes them feel enthusiastic about the future are 69 times more likely to be engaged in their work compared with employees who disagree with that statement.” 

Enthusiasm is contagious, and leaders who know how to wield this force are tremendously influential, well-liked, and successful. Upping your enthusiasm as a leader requires you to believe in what you are saying to others. If you don’t buy it yourself, it will be impossible to sell it to others. It requires you to do the hard work of aligning your team on critical success factors, milestones, contingencies, and impact measures that will be tracked along your journey to success.

There is no business without people, and in today’s uncertain climate, there will be no people to lead without these four vital capabilities. Now is the time to invest in them or risk the continued fallout of employee disengagement in a buyer’s market.

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