Employee retention is one of the most pressing issues facing forward thinking leaders and managers. In their book “Values Shift” authors John Izzo and Pam Withers describe a whole new set of expectations people now have of their workplaces.
As unemployment in Australia hits a 33 year low and even exceptional employers struggle to fill vacancies and retain the best people, you can't afford to ignore these expectations. As a leader and manager you need to be constantly aware of how you measure against these expectations and how you can meet and even exceed them in day to day practice.
Izzo and Withers identified six emerging expectations you need to focus on.
1. Better work-life balance and synergy.
This is one of the strongest and most consistent expectations, rejecting the all-consuming nature of work as it was for many of the baby boomer generation. This extends earlier concepts of balancing the spread of time between ‘at work’ and ‘out of work’ life, to include a better variety and balance of roles and activities within work hours, as well as ample time out of work for a full and varied lifestyle.
2. A sense of community and connection at work.
With trends such as greater mobility and dual income families, we see less traditional neighborhood connection or sense of community for many people. This has created an expectation that the workplace will help overcome isolation and offer its own sense of community and connection.
3. Opportunities for personal (as well as professional) development.
This becomes particularly important in flat workplaces where there is little opportunity for employees to work their way up a set career ladder. People still yearn to be challenged and stimulated and to grow and develop and expect that you will facilitate that through the workplace.
4. The opportunity to contribute to a more noble cause.
Employees expect corporate objectives to be broadened beyond making money to incorporate triple bottom line and a commitment to the betterment of society. They are looking for meaning and purpose in what they do and expect to find it in their work.
5. A more democratic partnership role.
Information is now ubiquitous and there has been a shift in the balance of power. The ‘decline in deference’ means that employees expect to be able to question authority, share opinions and say what they think - and they expect to be listened to and involved in decisions, as would any partner.
6. A relationship based on trust.
Past breaches of trust have generated suspicion and distrust. Organizations need to consistently demonstrate they are trustworthy and leaders will be held accountable for any breach of trust. Employees expect to trust, respect and even like the companies and leaders they work for - or they’ll move on.
While you may not have total control over any one of these areas in your organization, as a leader and manager you do have significant influence within your own team over aspects of every one of them.
By deliberately doing what you can within your sphere of influence to meet these six expectations you will not only be better placed to retain and attract good employees and team members, you will begin to enjoy your own role as a team leader more too.
Kerrie Mullins-Gunst is one of Australia's leading experts in leadership and founder of the Leadership Coaching Club. Visit leadershipcoachingclub.com
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