- The ongoing Great Resignation is driven by widespread dissatisfaction among workers about their jobs.
- Employers need to dig deeper into the causes of employee unhappiness and address workers’ dissatisfaction at its root.
- Employers can combat employee dissatisfaction by providing flexible, humane, and engaging conditions at work.
The ongoing Great Resignation is driven by widespread dissatisfaction among workers about their jobs.
While wages and benefits play a role in such unhappiness, inflexibility and disengaging work conditions are the primary sources of their unhappiness.
What can employers do to make their workers happy? What is clear is that raising wages and improving benefits isn’t alone enough. For instance, in the retail industry, employers have raised wages and have improved benefits with little success in bringing workers back.
Therefore, employers need to dig deeper into the causes of employee unhappiness and address workers’ dissatisfaction at its root. That is, by providing flexible, humane, and engaging conditions at work.
Increased wages and benefits alone are not enough.
Most workers will agree that they would happily take pay raises and better benefits from their employers.
Increasing wages and improving benefits are essential to resolving the Great Resignation. However, even though wages and benefits are improving, salaries and benefits are insufficient to bring workers back.
Most jobs for most people are disengaging. Many workers feel so disengaged that even improved pay and benefits don’t make the job worth it to them.
For instance, despite improved wages, most workers haven’t seen this translate into improving their living situation or well-being. $15 an hour isn’t enough to live in most places in America.
Increased wages not translating into a tangible improvement in worker well-being is partly because inflation has resulted in rising prices for everyday needs. Increasing wages does not matter much to workers when the spending power of the U.S. dollar has noticeably decreased.
And the fact of the matter is many workers have come to expect good benefits and wages from potential employers. It is non-negotiable now and therefore has less power to sway potential employees.
If a job’s only offer is good pay and benefits, there’s always another job that offers comparable benefits and wages available to job seekers.
These improvements don’t increase happiness if the job in question is otherwise misery-inducing. The increased wages do not amount to increased spending power for employees, and therefore, aren’t helping much to improve their well-being.
Happiness comes from humanity.
Most workers’ primary sources of unhappiness consist of their job’s inflexibility, disengaging character, lack of support, lack of connection, and lack of opportunities for career growth.
If employers are to improve the happiness of their employees –and in doing so, their productivity and the company’s overall success– they need to start at the root of the problem.
Flexibility as autonomy
Flexibility is a wide-ranging term that covers more than just schedules. It also includes workplace modality preference, such as hybrid or remote work.
The Harvard Business Review states that a more appropriate term than “flexibility” is “autonomy.” In other words, being able to work when they want and from wherever they want to.
In other words, giving free-range for workers to get the work done on their terms –according to their individual needs– is what workers are looking for.
And it is what employers should adopt if they are to make their employees happier. Employers should be incentivized in doing so by being illuminated to the fact that autonomy is a primary driver of motivation and high performance.
This means a few things for employers –many changes will be necessary in order to make workers happy that will radically alter the way workplaces function.
- A remote or hybrid option for workers looking to gain job flexibility. In many cases, this not only will ameliorate the problem of worker flexibility but also the problem of improving career ambitions.
- Establishing HR departments using healthy organizations as an operational blueprint. Namely, HR departments that are primarily interested primarily in resolving person-oriented outcomes, as opposed to business outcomes, which should be secondary.
- Creating programs for workers looking to advance their careers beyond their current occupation. This can include training programs designed to facilitate necessary skills for future jobs within or without their current occupation’s organization.
Workers are happier when they have improved wages and benefits, for sure. But they are exceedingly more satisfied when they have the flexibility and resources to do the things they love and create the career of their dreams –all while not engaging in unnecessary workplace conflict.
Employers have a vested interest in making their employees happy. Not only is it just the right thing to do, and essentially an employer’s duty, but happy employees make for more productive and motivated workers.
The way to make workers happier is to give them autonomy and to establish a workplace infrastructure that makes career growth and worker engagement frequent and workplace conflict infrequent.