Why employees are leaving—and the culture that makes them stay
During November 2021 alone, 4.5 million people quit their jobs—the highest number on record.
We’re currently experiencing the greatest transformation the world of work has ever seen, with professionals reconsidering not just how they work but where and why. Amid this Great Reshuffle, when so many people are having a career awakening, workplace culture has become one of the most influential factors when someone considers their next move.
LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends report found that, while job seekers are viewing nearly twice as many job posts before applying, posts mentioning culture get 67% more likes, shares, comments and clicks compared to average posts. Talent leaders must help create a company culture fit for this new world of work. Successful organizations have embraced a more human-centric culture, one whose hallmarks are flexibility and employee well-being, to attract and retain talent during the Great Reshuffle.
Redefining culture in the hybrid work era
As we navigate the pandemic, traditional office culture has changed forever. While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, organizations that have embraced flexibility stand out to job seekers.
Our report found that employees are happiest when they get to choose where, when, and how they work, with many leaving their existing roles or passing on new roles that don’t provide flexibility.
In fact, LinkedIn data has found that over two-thirds of U.S. members are searching for remote-only jobs, and we’ve seen a staggering 362% growth in member posts about flexibility over the last two years. When people are satisfied with the level of flexibility their company offers, they’re also more likely to both stay in their role and recommend the organization to others.
At the same time, when work no longer takes place in a centralized location, how can companies engage their employees? As companies continue to adopt a new, hybrid model of working, we anticipate “in-person, off-site” will increase. Employers will be more intentional about creating unique experiences that allow people to feel connected, valued, and excited to meet in person.
What flexibility looks like
While employees have more control in today’s talent market and hybrid work environment, companies need to lead with trust. This takes establishing guidelines on how to treat remote workers, setting up clear work/life boundaries, and creating a more level playing field to ensure that people at home are not overlooked for stretch assignments or promotion opportunities.
Outdated success metrics, like how many hours one puts in, need to be refocused on results and impact. It’s important for companies to encourage employees to take breaks and establish a regular working rhythm, as well as to remind them they are valued for their ability to meet goals and exceed expectations—wherever they may be.
While there’s no secret recipe to defining new cultural parameters, IBM is a great example of a leader in this area. At the start of the pandemic, the company defined its policies in a “Work from Home Pledge.”
It encourages employees to be “family sensitive,” kind to one another, and to support “not camera ready” times. Today, the pledge stands as an important reminder that the physical and emotional health of all employees are priorities in the company’s culture.
Taking a cue from IBM’s approach, other companies can set boundaries too, perhaps by starting with encouraging communications options beyond live meetings. Could an email suffice, or a chat message, or even a quick audio call instead of video?
The true definition of employee well-being
Employee burnout has reached historic levels in the past year, and mental health must remain a top priority for companies as focus shifts from short-term solutions to transforming organizational culture to meet the needs of employees.
At LinkedIn, we created an initiative called LiftUp!, which includes no-meeting days, mental health resources, and surprise and delight moments to help encourage employees to put their well-being first. We also formed specific training for managers in compassionate accountability, calm leadership, and practical prioritization.
Time off as an organization is another increasingly popular and well-received opportunity to support well-being. LinkedIn typically holds a company-wide break at the end of December, and we also gave the organization an extra week off this year. Nike, Instacart, and Thomson Reuters are a few examples of companies taking a similar approach. Walking away collectively, when everyone can be offline, is truly a break.
Though we’re still navigating a challenging time, it’s also a once-in-a-generation moment rich with possibilities. To gain an edge, companies need to abandon outdated workplace constructs and reimagine where, when, and how work gets done, with a focus on people first.
Employees want to work for and will stay at companies where there’s a culture of flexibility and well-being. And, as the Great Reshuffle continues, we can expect that employee needs and expectations will continue to shift and evolve as well. Culture is not static, and organizations that adjust now will be in a stronger position for what’s next.
Teuila Hanson is chief people officer of LinkedIn.
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