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October 27, 2021

From the Great Resignation to Striketober, Employees are Demanding Change


We’ve all heard and read about the "Great Resignation" and employees leaving their jobs in record numbers recently. In a related development, October is now known as Striketober, with labor strikes happening at cereal makers (Kellogg’s), agricultural equipment manufacturers (John Deere) and healthcare providers (Kaiser Permanente). A strike of 60,000 behind-the-scenes film and TV workers was averted with moments to spare earlier this month. And Netflix employees just staged a walkout over concern about Dave Chappelle’s transphobic jokes and employees’ desire to see the company invest in more LGBTQ content.

While unions have failed to succeed in organizing workers at behemoths like Starbucks and Amazon, they may be picking up steam. And opinion polls indicate that the public is increasingly supportive of unions, with the latest Gallup numbers showing 65% approval.

From the "Great Resignation" to Striketober, employees are making their voices heard. And companies are beginning to respond, with leaders like Walmart, McDonald’s, Starbucks and CVS all increasing starting pay.

The old adage that employees don’t
leave their companies, they leave their
managers has never been truer.

What can leaders on the front lines – those who may not have a major voice in substantial pay hikes or benefits changes – do to help retain workers and prevent strikes and walkouts? Plenty. The old adage that employees don’t leave their companies, they leave their managers has never been truer. As David Grossman points out in his new book, Heart First: Lasting Leader Lessons From a Year that Changed Everything, it’s about leading with humanity and empathy – connecting with your team members so they feel valued and appreciated.

5 Ways to Lead with Humanity and Empathy

Here are some tips to help you get started:

  1. Listen and Respond. Take the time to understand what’s on your team members’ minds. What questions and concerns do they have? What do they need to make their work experience better? Ask for their feedback – and show them you’re listening by acting on what you hear. You won’t be able to fix every problem but do what you can and explain why when you can’t, providing the context they need to understand the situation.
  2. Be willing to be vulnerable. Share your own story and life experiences, your challenges and the things that matter most to you. Doing so will make your team members more likely to share their stories and journeys – what has made them who they are and what their hopes and dreams are for the future. It will also open the door for them to be more comfortable sharing work-related feedback that you can act upon. And it will make you more relatable and help you build trusting, meaningful connections with your team.
  3. Share what you know when you know it. Easier said than done, I know. And sometimes, you’re bound by the confidentiality of the information you have. But often, you can share information about what’s going on or what the vision is for the future. You can provide context for company decisions and help your team members see what it means for them. If you don’t know the answer to a question a member of your team asks, find the answer and tell them. And if you get a question that you can’t address because of confidentiality, say that it’s a subject you can’t discuss right now but that you will share information at the appropriate time. Candor builds credibility and trust.
  4. Recognize your team members for their hard work and accomplishments in ways that matter to them as individuals. Sure, you should take advantage of your corporate recognition programs and the points and perks they offer. But that’s not enough. Make a goal to send three hand-written thank you notes a week to different members of your team. Call out specifically what they did as an individual to earn your thanks. To the degree that you have leeway to purchase modest thank you gifts, pick something that matches the interests of the individual, whether that is a gift certificate for dinner or tickets to a ball game. Show them that you care enough to know what’s important to them.
  5. Build regular recognition into your team meetings. Set aside a few minutes at the start or end of every team meeting for a shout out to a team member. You can do it yourself or set it up where team members recognize a peer for something they did. By making it a regular part of your team meetings, you’ll create a culture of gratitude and recognition.

What will you do to help your team members feel valued and appreciated?

Linda Kingman

About Linda

Linda-bio-photo-v2Linda is Senior Vice President of The Grossman Group where she delivers award-winning innovative and strategic communication solutions for clients that address their everyday and defining business challenges. Linda has worked with a wide range of clients including American Airlines, BCBS, Dow Chemical, Johnson & Johnson, Hyatt Hotels, Kaiser Permanente, NiSource, Novartis Gene Therapies, and others. Linda is a member of the Economic Club of Chicago and the Arthur W. Page Society.

The Great Resignation is moving full steam ahead. Join us for a discussion on how crack the Big Quit Code in this upcoming webinar featuring David Grossman and Linda Kingman. Click below to register today!

Webinar with PRSA Chicago and David Grossman and Linda Kingman - register today

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