When you think of the words “work environment,” what comes to mind first? Maybe you think of Monday water cooler conversations
where everyone scrambles to remember what they did over the weekend (ours is easy: stayed at home with a good book and a bag of Cheetos). Or perhaps you reminisce about effective brainstorm sessions, team lunches, or big projects you’ve completed.
Work is a big part of everyone’s lives, and everyone brings different thoughts and experiences to the table. The problem is, lately many employees’ thoughts on their work environment are preceded by words like “toxic,” “stressful,” or “unrewarding.” And they’re responding to those thoughts by leaving their jobs for greener pastures.
Our work environment today is constantly in flux, and it’s facing a time of unprecedented change and upheaval. Two correlated events have been the catalyst for all of this change:
• The COVID-19 pandemic
• The Great Resignation
The pandemic forced a huge portion of the workforce to spend more time at home, and that’s allowed these individuals to reevaluate what’s important to them. Things like flexible hours, good health benefits, and comfortable working conditions are now front-of-mind for employees. In other words, employees want to be happy at their jobs. They want to feel valued and fulfilled, and they want their work to contribute to something meaningful.
And with the sheer number of job openings created by the initial pandemic layoffs, people have dozens of options to choose
from. Why stay at a job where they’re not engaged or happy when they can choose from 10 similar jobs with better benefits and a better culture?
This brings up an important point that we need to emphasize: compensation and benefits are not enough to keep people around. A toxic work culture is by far the most common reason employees quit. To hit this point home even more, feeling special, feeling like a valued individual instead of just another worker, is much more important to employees than compensation.
So what can businesses and organizations do to focus on employee happiness and satisfaction? The answer is simple: treat employees more like people and less like a replaceable asset. And one of the best ways to do that is with employee recognition. However, many organizations still don’t know how to recognize in an effective way.