Lead/Forward Podcast, Ep. 2 “Talent”
A staggering 4.3 million people quit their jobs in September 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.1 The resignation sensation sweeping the nation is leaving some organizations with dwindling staffs of disgruntled employees. The Great Resignation is impossible for business leaders to ignore and may be the jolt they needed to change their approach to employee happiness and workplace culture.
For episode 2 of the Lead/Forward podcast series, I spoke about talent with Michael Loggins, Global Vice President of IT at SMC. We both agree that an organization’s most important asset is its people. Exceptional talent is the hardest to find, the hardest to train, and it’s the differentiator that separates good companies from great companies. That’s why leaders have to go above and beyond to create an excellent community that inspires people to stay with your organization. Especially in the last two years, leaders have had to devise location-agnostic work culture initiatives to boost engagement and care for employees’ lives outside their computer screens.
People are not a utility of the business. They’re people! Regular paychecks, free beer at 4:30 and casual Fridays do not drive community or make people feel connected to each other or the company. Loggins says SMC has always prided itself on providing great benefits and being compassionate. Now, especially in these tough times, Loggins suggests that organizations need to do more to make everyone feel welcome, which requires decoupling employees from their work output and thinking about people as the dynamic individuals they are. “It’s about removing other barriers that would potentially keep [employees] from not feeling connected to the overall mission of [the company]. Taking things out of the picture that may cause stress in their family life because of them being at work. You’re creating compensation and benefits for the whole person, not just for their bank account, you’re not just checking boxes to make sure you can match up. What do our people need to feel good about being here every day and contributing?”
Additionally, fostering an excellent work culture – especially a remote one – requires that leaders reconnect their employees to a sense of purpose within the organization. In the case of the monumental effort IT teams accomplished in the spring of 2020, Loggins reflects “Anyone who talks about how seamless their move to home was either was not actually in the seamless move to home or is trying to hide something.” IT teams everywhere are earning the boardroom respect they should have been recognized for for years. IT grappled with the brunt of the operational messiness of the shift to remote work, and Loggins is proud of his team who made the leap in two weeks.
Technology’s continued role in supporting the remote workforce is finally giving technology heads a seat at the table of major business discussions. IT demonstrated how their work directly contributes toward achieving business goals. Going forward, this inclusion in larger decisions and celebration of employees’ excellent work in relation to the company as a whole is the cornerstone to a supportive, location-agnostic work environment that can stand up to the Great Resignation.
Tune in to the second episode of the Lead/Forward podcast series to hear my conversation with Loggins about the importance of creating rich digital and personal experiences in retaining happy employees. Also, catch up on episode 1 of the series about innovation and how not every discovery needs to be disruptive.