- In his book “Workquake: Embracing the Aftershocks of COVID-19 to Create a Better Model of Working,” Steve Cadigan, the former top LinkedIn HR exec, details why employees have grown increasingly dissatisfied in recent years, and how leaders can take advantage of the impact of the last two years to improve company culture.
- The recent trend of job migration shows that professionals have a desire to learn more; staying on at a company to show high levels of commitment actually inhibits workers from learning new skills.
- Sitting down with Allwork.Space’s Future of Work Podcast, Cadigan discussed the many changes his book experienced due to the pandemic, how to best retain employees, and why categorizing generational differences could hinder employee growth.
Chaos generates change, but only for the willing few.
At least, that’s the lesson that LinkedIn’s first Chief Human Resources Officer Steve Cadigan believes in. From his more than three decades working in the talent industry, Cadigan has seen the many ebbs and flows of workplace culture and everything that it entails.
In his book “Workquake: Embracing the Aftershocks of COVID-19 to Create a Better Model of Working,” Cadigan details why employees have grown increasingly dissatisfied in recent years and how leaders can take advantage of the that to improve company culture.
Sitting down with Allwork.Space’s Future of Work Podcast, Cadigan discussed the many changes his book experienced due to the pandemic, and how to best retain employees.
Some quotes have been edited for length and clarity.
Dispelling the myth of traditional work models
One of the most significant hurdles that Cadigan has noted in his experience is the divide between employer and employee expectations.
For instance, he explores the idea of why companies are eager to retain their employees, and why workers may not want to pigeonhole their career to one company.
“What I wanted to try to do was say, ‘No, I’m seeing lots of really compelling stories for employees to build compelling careers and satisfying careers, and organizations to build more engaging and more satisfying organizations,” Cadigan explains, “people may mean they don’t need to stay so long, and you could still build a great business.’”
Now more than ever, professionals have begun job hopping as they search for their greater purpose, much to the dismay of big companies. Why would a worker want to remain at a job that does little for skills progression?
For Cadigan, employer loyalty isn’t the end-all be-all to a worker’s abilities or strengths.
In fact, the recent trend of job migration shows that professionals have a desire to learn more; staying on at a company to show high levels of commitment actually inhibits workers from learning new skills.
Rather than introducing a ping pong table to the break room or an on-site barista to zhuzh up the office, the key to retaining employees stems from the desire for them to grow.
Before joining LinkedIn, Cadigan describes the exodus from his previous job being met with the “silent, cold shoulder treatment.”
“This is just a dishonest reality that we start many employment situations with, ‘Hey…you commit to stay a long time. We’ll commit to employing you for a long time. We both know we probably won’t follow through on that commitment, but let’s start our relationship on a foundation that we both know is kind of fragile,’” said Cadigan.
How to actually retain workers
Retention through shame doesn’t work, so what can leaders do to make their company a place where employees want to stay?
“[If] you’re trying to retain people longer, I believe you’re playing defense,” said Cadigan. “If you’re trying to care about people for their entire career journey, that’s playing offense, making people better.”
And one of the most effective methods of showing workers that they are cared for is giving them opportunities. Cadigan says this can be done in a variety of ways, but upskilling programs and the promise of uplifting future career prospects is a good place to start.
He uses fast-food chain Chipotle as an example.
In 2021, Chipotle unveiled a job program that gives line workers the ability to work up to a restaurateur if they stay on with the company. By doing so, the restaurant hopes to “attract even more talent by showcasing the potential income that can be achieved in a few short years,” according to the firm’s Chief Diversity, Inclusion and People Officer Marissa Andrada.
“I think in the future we’re going to hire people more based on what they can learn than what they know,” Cadigan says.