The end of one year and the beginning of another is a good time for employees to reevaluate what they’re doing and move on. We’re seeing that happen more than ever with the Great Resignation. Workers are rethinking what they do, and smart employers need to understand what motivates people and create the right kind of culture.

The Great Resignation

Why are people resigning in waves? The disruption of the pandemic has highlighted what I’ll call “latent disgust” among team members. Employees who felt mistreated and unappreciated were just waiting for an excuse to go. The turmoil and job opportunities of the pandemic gave them that opportunity. 

People are realizing that work is what you do, not where you go. Freelancers, consultants, and those who always worked at home have known this for a while, but the majority population is seeing it now. And they’re reevaluating: “Is this really what I want to do with my life?” 

Organizations that lack a culture of care are losing people the fastest. Why stick around if you’re not valued? This shift is finally holding employers accountable. Workers don’t have to put up with a toxic environment where managers yell, shame, or tell dehumanizing jokes. Beyond that baseline of human decency, people want to work where they feel like they can make a valuable and appreciated contribution.

5 Ways to Value Your Employees

So what can you do about it? As one leader said, you need to re-recruit your employees to make sure they stick around. While your pay and benefits should be generous, the best way to keep employees isn’t with bonuses, vacation days, or stellar perks. It’s creating a culture of care.

Here are five ways you can create a culture of care and show how much your team matters:

  1. Be generous with your time and knowledge: As Olympic gold medalist Carissa Moore said, “Results are amazing, but they’re fleeting.” Instead, she emphasized sharing your time and knowledge with others. Spend time with your team. Pass on what you’ve learned. 
  2. Invest in your team: Help your team get better. Encourage them to attend conferences or take classes. Make further education a paid benefit. Create an expectation that everyone is learning and growing, not just to have a better team, but to help your individual employees have better careers. 
  3. Ask for their input: People want to be heard. One of the greatest ways to value people is simply to listen to them. It doesn’t mean that their suggestions are always implemented, but just welcoming their input can change everything. Besides, the best ideas often come from the bottom up.
  4. Show your gratitude: Any good boss knows they’re nothing without their team. So show how much you appreciate them. That means more than a box of donuts or a catered lunch. It means celebrating wins, honoring milestones, and sharing credit.
  5. Culture over competence: The culture you create is more important than people knowing what they’re doing. That sounds backward, but it’s true. You can train anyone to do a specific task, but it’s a lot harder to train someone to be kind. Focus on the culture of your organization and the rest will fall into place. 

What If People Leave?

All this focus on bettering employees can prompt some understandable fear among employers. What happens when you pour into your employees and then they move on? That’s OK. You should want bigger and better things for your team members, even if that means they go somewhere else. 

Yes, you’ll be faced with the challenge of finding new folks, but if they left for the right reasons then that’s a good thing. Think about what it says: They moved on not because your culture was toxic or they felt unappreciated, but because you prepared them for the next step in their career. They’re grateful for what you did for them and unlikely to forget it. That former employee is now an ambassador for your company, singing your praises and making it easier to get that next job or find that next employee. You’re spreading your influence throughout the industry, and that’s only going to be positive. 

Business doesn’t have to be this cutthroat competition where folks are stabbing each other in the back. That’s the kind of toxic environment people are fleeing as fast as they can. Instead, let’s help one another out. Let’s be a force for positive change in our own business, our own industry, and our own community. Instead of prompting “latent disgust” in our employees, let’s prompt “latent creativity” because we fostered an environment that allowed them to feel safe, to be heard, and to open up and share their ideas. 

That’s how the Great Resignation becomes nothing to worry about.