What can leaders do about the ‘great resignation’?

‘I know I need to do things differently, but I am just overwhelmed.’

‘Fuzzy boundaries between life and work and lack of restorative breaks / complete switch-offs are leaving me feeling depleted.’

Sounds familiar?

We are all seeing the ‘great resignation’ playing out.

A recent MIT Sloan Review article by Liz Fosslien quotes research that stress and burnout are the main reasons people are thinking about leaving their jobs right now. In 2020, 71% of employees experienced burnout at least once, and 62% reported feeling overwhelmed by work.

So what can leaders do about this? A lot has already been said about empathy, building connections, and making space for the whole person. Here are 3 additional thoughts that can help.

1.    Get intentional about hybrid / remote work. A lot of the transition to remote and hybrid work so far has been in reaction to changing circumstances. However, the companies that have managed to make this transition most successful are those who have been intentional about what they want to create.

For example, thinking about culture. Shifting from the physical world to remote meant culture wouldn’t translate automatically. Before leaders could completely design for that, work is now hybrid – which again has different implications for culture. Taking a step back and intentionally designing what we want to create, and how it can be done in the hybrid world is essential.

2.    Create purpose and engagement. Seligman’s work in positive psychology points to the factors that can create well-being and a sense of ‘flourishing’ – in life or at work.

These include a sense of meaning or purpose – leaders have an important role in communicating the ‘why’ of their organization, and helping each person connect with it.

Another is creating engagement – enabling a state of flow where there is the optimum balance of mastery and challenge. Again, there is a lot we can do to create opportunities for flow in our own and our teams’ work.

(For the other factors that contribute to flourishing, and more ideas about these 2, read this article on moving from languishing to flourishing)

3.    Create support networks. For so long, the image of the solo hero accomplishing things has been the archetype for corporate achievement too. However, that is now outdated.

We all need support networks, and organizations need to make sure these are available, and that they normalize (even celebrate) taking support when necessary. Peer support groups, mentor and buddy programs, internal and external coaches, employee assistance programs – all need to be available and play their role.

Would love to hear your ideas and thoughts on what more leaders can do. What are the steps you / your organizations have taken?

About Shweta Anand Arora

Shweta Anand Arora is the founder of The Core Questin. She is a Leadership and Life Coach, who works with leaders across the corporate, social enterprise and non-profit space. Shweta holds an M.Ed. from Harvard University, an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad and is a graduate of Coach for Life, USA.

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