This episode, Patrick Veroneau talks about his insights on why he thinks that more employees will quit during and after the pandemic than before and not in a conventional way. He explains why and how the pandemic can cause people to be disengaged from their work and the role that leaders and organizations’ behaviors play in it. Patrick emphasizes the dangers of having disengaged employees and provides strategies for avoiding it by being ahead of the curve in developing better behaviors. Learn and understand why you need to start identifying the challenges involved in the current work setting and provide ample care your people need.
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Why Many More Employees Will Quit Today Than Before The Pandemic
I want to talk about organizations at risk of having their employees quit at higher levels than they have ever seen. I know that sounds crazy in a time where we’re seeing 20% unemployment rates, who are going to quit their job when unemployment is at 20%? I will tell you, there are many people and it’s not what you think. Stay tuned and let’s get into it.
As I mentioned, unemployment is at about 20%, maybe a little more. It’s at the highest rates we’ve ever seen in our lifetimes for the most part. What is interesting about that is that we knew prior to COVID in regards to organizations for a few decades that the level of disengagement within companies about two-thirds of employees within an organization are disengaged. That has not gone away. It’s going to get worse. What I mean by that is how organizations and individuals within organizations that may be in leadership roles decide to behave toward those people that are working within the organization will make a big difference.
If there is a mentality out there of people should be happy that they have a job. It’s business as usual. You are going to see more people quit. The difference is that they will stay. They will not be leaving the organization, which is far more damaging to an organization than those people that quit and did go somewhere else. These are people that are almost like ghosts roaming the halls. They’re there, but they’re really not there. In this time, that’s what will happen more than likely. We saw this back in 2008 during the last crisis, this same process. If organizations don’t behave in ways that take into consideration what many people are dealing with, it is going to be catastrophic on a different level in terms of productivity within organizations. There are a couple of different things that I wanted to touch on here. One is we know in regards to the situation that we’re in, the level of stress that this has created for individuals is immense.
I had presented some data on a navigating stress workshop that I was doing for leaders. What I did was I cited some of the data that was out there from Express Scripts over increases from mid-February to mid-March 2020, as it related to antidepressants, antianxiety meds, and insomnia medications. All of those had incredible jumps. Antianxiety meds increased by about 37% in terms of the number of prescriptions that were filled. As it related to antidepressants, it was about 18%. In insomnia drugs, it was about 14%. What that says is how much stress individuals are dealing with?
bctt tweet=”In person, we oftentimes are more productive than when we’re isolated. ” username=”coachpatrickv”]
If we combine that with isolation, which many of us are feeling, and I know that there is so much talk about the impact or the benefit of having people work remotely, this is going to provide many opportunities going forward. I don’t deny that. However, what we know about research around belongingness is that we’re like pack animals. We need each other. There’s also research that shows that in-person we oftentimes are more productive than when we’re isolated. That’s not to say that there are benefits to this because they’re truly are. It is going to be important for organizations and individuals to understand and appreciate that decentralizing a team or isolation can also provide or present its own challenges if we don’t understand that and appreciate what is happening.
The other end of this is we think about it from the standpoint of burnout. Burnout is not new. It was in existence prior to COVID, but you’re going to see it even more in many different scenarios where you have smaller workforces yet more work that needs to be done. A lot of the work that I do in the healthcare industry, I was already seeing that. There was already a high level of burnout where many providers were feeling that they didn’t have enough time. They were overworked. What’s important here going forward is to say, “How do we deal with those things that we need to appreciate the situation that we’re in?” This is important. One of the things that I had listed here was empathy.
I’ll talk about it from two different points. One is a story that I heard of an individual, an executive that was leaving an organization. They were reducing their workforce and he was one of the individuals that were going to be leaving. The organization talked about the need for them to demonstrate empathy over the next six weeks, to be able to navigate this situation with their employees at home. It was as though this was something that they had to turn on for six weeks. After six weeks, we’ll go back to what we were doing before.
We won’t focus on empathy. To me, when I think of that, if we use this as a tool to how do we get people to go where we want them to go, not thinking about what the real impact or importance of having empathy is, then it’s going to backfire. What do you think’s going to happen to those people that all of a sudden on week seven, they’re like, “You don’t seem to care anymore? What’s going on?” I’m not saying that there’s going to be a switch there, but again, this is simply the conversation that happened with this individual.
There are ways that we can avoid this happening in terms of this feeling of employees being burnt out, being isolated, feeling more stress, feeling less appreciation within organizations, and feeling as though maybe they’re being taken advantage of because of the situation. Those things will backfire on an organization. You will have people that will quit and stay. The behaviors that I will often talk about in this are about building relationships. The behaviors that build better relationships. This is exactly what is needed at this time and at all times. It needs to be even more focused on at this point.
If we do this, organizations will be in a much better position with the employees that they have to probably solve many of the problems that they’re going to face in a much better way. The first thing that I would talk about is creating an environment where you’re a learner. There’s a quote that I’ve used in the past with Eric Hoffer that says, “In times of change, learners inherit the earth while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped for a world that no longer exists.” I don’t think there’s a person out there that wouldn’t disagree that we are in a time of incredible change and the way you lead pre-COVID and the way that you are going to need to lead going forward from here. The behaviors that you will need to model are going to be different and quite honestly better in terms of getting people to feel inspired, empowered and compelled to want to go where you’re asking them to go.
Of those, we think about congruence. Remember to walk the talk. When your words don’t match your actions, there is a lack of integrity. You will build a sense of distrust within the organization if what you say and what you do are not the same things. Most organizations in their mission or in their company description say that their employees are their most valuable asset. If you don’t demonstrate that through this, if you treat people as though you should be lucky to have a job in this environment, then you will have already started down that path of people quitting but staying. Next is around appreciation. This is about recognizing the impact that isolation and restrictions have had on individuals. This is incredible in terms of the environment we’ve been placed in, where you have maybe two parents, both on their jobs, working out of home, you’ve got kids working out of a home or the opposite of this.
You have somebody that lives alone. That’s been in complete isolation. That even if there were an introvert have lost out because they haven’t been able to interact with other people. The way that we are meant to, which brings me to the next point in regards to, as we work remotely. The challenge from the standpoint of belongingness is, we need to be much more appreciative of how do we bring people together. We know through all the research around belongingness that we are pack animals, we need each other. If people feel as though they are not connected to the mission or the group or the individual, if they feel isolated, then the impact is going to be negative.Learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped for a world that no longer exists. Click To Tweet
It’s going to provide an opportunity or the need for those that manage teams to find ways to connect more often with individuals without seeming as though I’m micromanaging somebody, but there is importance there. The next is around listening and I’ve often talked about listening in four different ways, listening with our ears, tone of voice, the words that somebody is saying, listening with our eyes, body language and facial expressions. That’s important. Next is listening with our minds. When we hear somebody say something, it’s listening in the way of trying to be curious as to is what they said and what I’ve heard what they’ve meant.
The only way we find that out is by clarifying simply by even saying, “What I heard you say is, is that correct? What I think you’re saying to me is this, am I right?” Lastly is listening with empathy. It’s about putting yourself in the other person’s place and saying, “How would I want them to listen to me?” If I was on the other side of that, how would I want them to listen to me of all of those? Listening with ears, mind, and heart are probably most important, especially if we’re on calls with individuals that we’re trying to listen to. What are the words? What are the tones that they’re putting out there?
If we’re on Zoom or some other online platform, that’s video, looking at their body language, what are they doing when we’re having these conversations? These are important to be listening to those people around us. The next is around empathy is demonstrating empathy for those people that are isolated, trying to understand what’s it like to be where they are in the environment that they’re in. That requires us to suspend our own judgment of what we think is going on but trying to be there for them. I was speaking with somebody, in the organization that I’m doing an online workshop with one of the directors of this group was saying that one of their managers was having a difficult time remotely.
This was somebody, as this director said, was somebody more of a hands-on manager. What that meant was they were more of a micromanager and were having a difficult time because they had employees that work remotely and they weren’t quite as compliant as they had been in the office. To me, this is an opportunity for this manager to recognize the challenges somebody else is going through, the distractions that they’re dealing with, rather than, how do I control you? How do I gain control? The harder they try and control, the more difficult it’s going to be. Lastly, it’s around making sure that we set clear expectations and hold each other to ownership of those.
We’re an environment that things are moving all the time. We don’t know what’s expected. The more ambiguous things are, the more challenging they are for individuals. The more likely people are to quit and stay. This is a time where people need to understand what do we need from each other? Maybe not what’s our function going to look like, but how are we going to communicate with each other? What can we expect from each other? What do we need from each other during this period of time? Those are things that are important that we need to recognize.
If we demonstrate those behaviors, when we look at the challenges we’re faced with, the root cause of all of our challenges are around behaviors. When we understand that and work to identify and develop better behaviors, we will build the strongest relationships we can. This is a bridge that we will travel continually, whether it’s personal, professional or in the community, these relationships that we’re building through these behaviors will get us through whatever challenge that’s coming our way. It will also reduce the likelihood that people will quit and stay.
I hope you found this helpful. There’s so much opportunity here in terms of, where we go from here from a growth perspective? That won’t happen without the right behaviors. If you know somebody you think would benefit from hearing this episode or any other, I’d ask that you forward it on. It would mean the world to me if you would leave a rating or a comment on this or any other episode because that’s how this message of reimagining leadership and finding a better way, continues to get out there. Until the next episode, I hope you’re able to go out there and rise above your best.