The Great Resignation is upon us, and leaders across the U.S. are working to improve the cultures of their organizations to stay relevant and present in their employees’ new reality.
In August 2021 alone, four million Americans quit their jobs. Workers are leaving their jobs en masse as job openings continue to hit record highs month after month.
Many people who have stayed in their jobs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic — in fact, more than half of those surveyed in this study — have said they prefer working remotely at least three days a week. This hybrid work model has quickly become ingrained in the culture of our country’s organizations, driven by a shift in what employees value most in a career: acknowledgement, empathy, flexibility and a more humane environment.
The whole notion of culture has been turned on its head in an environment where leaders aren’t physically seeing or being around their employees and co-workers on a daily basis. Many people are deciding that’s not what they want anymore, and they’re not willing to go back to a cubicle five days a week.
Coaches John Burt and Dirk van der Vaart of Intelligent Leadership Executive Coaching® (ILEC) — one of the most respected names in the coaching industry — offered their perspectives on a challenge every leader must meet head-on if they truly want to change the culture of their organization and embrace a hybrid workplace model.
“The last 18 months have shown us that businesses that were able to quickly adapt to the pandemic and go to a hybrid or virtual work format tended to survive and do better,” van der Vaart said. “The surprise for many leaders was that things got done, and in some cases, businesses actually did better. The old culture and way of doing things isn’t really working for today’s workers. They value something very different in their work experience.”
What Employees Now Demand From Workplace Culture
The workers of America have used this time during the pandemic to reevaluate what they’re looking for in their careers.
“They’re coming up with the conclusion, in many cases, that it isn’t the right culture for them and isn’t the place they want to continue working for long-term,” Burt said. “Maybe it’s not fulfilling, there’s not enough recognition, not enough empathy or they don’t feel like they’re seen at that company. So it’s been a time to reflect and consider how they fit into their organization and whether it’s still a good fit for them.”
This realization and awakening is happening in every major market across the country, with a recent survey showing 41% of respondents were considering leaving their current jobs. “The key to keeping employees engaged, van der Vaart said, lies within an organization’s leader.”
“The Great Resignation has created a huge challenge for business leaders trying to figure out how to keep their workforce and guarantee a successful employee experience,” van der Vaart said. “It’s all about the culture, and the reality is, if you want to know about a workplace’s culture, look no further than the leader. Employees will do what the leader shows them by example.”
“Beginning with the Industrial Revolution, Burt said, corporations formed and people were no longer out on their farm working. Instead, they were in factories building products or working in shops.”
“That culture was one of ‘I’m paying you, and you should produce and be happy you’re working.’ That age is long gone,” Burt said. “People now want acknowledgement for the contribution that they’re making. They want to know how they’re contributing to the overall mission of the organization.”
What Leaders & Employees Can Do To Get the Most From a Hybrid Work Model
“Leaders don’t just influence organizational culture, van der Vaart said — they are the culture. A leader is the role model for how the rest of an organization should carry itself, and at a time where so much is uncertain, flexibility is the word of the day.”
Burt and van der Vaart took their experience as ILEC Coaches and compiled a list of actionable items leaders and employees can do to promote a hybrid work culture.
“There’s no such thing as over-communication for a leader in this hybrid environment,” van der Vaart said. “If you say something important once, you have to say it at least five times on various media platforms. If you say it once during a Zoom meeting, you better make sure it’s also on HubSpot or the Slack channel and that it’s repeated on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.”
- Invest in technology.
“Leaders should embrace this new reality,” van der Vaart said. “Don’t be afraid of it. Commit to it and learn what platforms your employees and your customers are using, like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Slack, HubSpot. Get technologically savvy and figure out where your employees, your prospective employees and where your customers are gathering and what tools and platforms they’re using. It’s hugely important to get past this resistance of being remote or semi-virtual.”
- Be visible and seen.
“Publish videos all the time,” van der Vaart said. “Record one-to two-minute video snippets and put them out there for your workforce to view and share. Make sure you’re visible and seen, because you’re not at the water cooler or your local Starbucks where everyone used to meet. If you want to stay engaged, you as a leader have to put yourself out there.”
- Ask how everyone is doing.
“Start every meeting by asking everyone how they’re doing individually,” Burt said. “Acknowledge that they’re not in the office and you know they have a lot of demands on their time and you want to know how they’re doing. It’s just the simple idea of asking people first how they’re doing before getting into the agenda. Don’t make it about the meeting. Make it about the people.”
- Offer understanding.
“COVID has induced a great amount of fear, uncertainty, anxiety and complexity into people’s daily lives,” van der Vaart said. “Many people have kids that might not be in class full-time right now or they have to care for elderly parents. Everybody has disrupted routines right now, and as a leader, you have to accept and embrace that. Leaders should offer as much understanding and flexibility as they can.”
- Have honest, open discussions.
“Leaders and their employees should meet to determine how everyone wants to work together in a hybrid workplace,” van der Vaart said. “Decide on expectations for common inter-office communications, like when to participate in calls on camera or how quickly one should reply to emails or direct messages. Get that stuff out into the open. Discuss it and come to a common understanding. Write it down so your team has an agreed-upon set of rules.”
A hybrid work model isn’t meant to replace a face-to-face in-office relationship, but taking these steps can get an organization closer to regular, consistent communication.
“It does require some outreach by the leader to the employee,” Burt said. “But also, if you’re an employee who wants to stay relevant and part of the conversation, you need to take steps to either ask for advice or share ideas. It’s a more proactive work culture. Everyone has to be all hands on deck all the time. It’s not a passive environment, where you can walk into the office, sit down, get your work done and clock out.”
How Leadership Coaches Use Data & Proven Methods To Re-Shape Company Culture
ILEC offers a blueprint to transform lives and organizations through the help of a talented pool of highly trained Coaches, who go through six rigorous training programs for their Master Certification. Once trained, ILEC coaches have access to a suite of award-winning training and proprietary tools that allow the brand to measure the program’s ROI, making it unmatched in the industry.
“We are seeing more and more companies struggle in today’s workplace environments with retaining their employees and motivating the ones that stay,” said ILEC co-founder and CEO John Mattone. “Many executives don’t know how to pivot, and that is what we are here to do. ILEC has a team of experts and patented tools set up to optimize company culture.”
ILEC has a successful track record with nearly 1,000 CEOs, entrepreneurs and executives, and it has impacted the success of thousands of organizations in more than 50 countries.
“ILEC’s tools measure the cultural health and vibrancy of an organization,” Burt said. “As a coach, I’ll give an assessment of where an organization is from a cultural perspective, where it’s vibrant and effective and where it could do better. And then I help those clients through that process by building a cultural transformation plan, because it’s not something that’s a one and done. It will take some time. It’s about identifying where you’re at, identifying the priority that will help you to drive the results that you’re looking for and the things that you need to change and building out a plan that will help you get there.”
While these tools are meant to bolster a leader’s ability to change the culture of their organization for the better, Burt and van der Vaart had similar advice for employees weathering the Great Resignation and looking for a culture that works for them: Do your due diligence.
“There’s an old adage that says, ‘Don’t ever run away from something; run toward something,’” Burt said. “So evaluate the company and the culture that you’re considering going to. A lot of clients I’ve worked with as a consultant over the years, their sticking point is the culture. Some companies have better cultures than others, and it’s up to the employee to decide if it’s a good fit. Just be careful about where you’re jumping to, otherwise you’ll get on this path of constantly changing jobs every six months because you haven’t quite found the right culture.”
About Intelligent Leadership Executive Coaching (ILEC)
Established in 2010, Co-Founder John Mattone is globally recognized as the world’s #1 authority on Intelligent Leadership (IL), the world’s top executive coach, and the pioneer of the unique, powerful and game-changing Intelligent Leadership Executive Coaching® blueprint for success. Intelligent Leadership Executive Coaching® (ILEC) is the world’s top executive coaching franchise dedicated to growing leaders, building cultures, and driving results. The ILEC unique coaching methodology provides a proven philosophy, system and tools to empower leaders and future leaders to unlock and unleash their potential. ILEC clients benefit from a high ROI that delivers real results.
To learn more about how you can join the IL Movement as a coach, or how you can benefit from bringing IL Solutions to your organization, contact us today.