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Address the risk of burn out to increase employee retention - Bonar Institute for Purposeful Leadership

“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.” — Lou Holtz

The astounding phase of announcements on people moving to new jobs over the past year indicates high volatility in the market for top talent. This poses a major retention risk for managers.

The August 2021 PWC U.S. Pulse Survey indicates, alarmingly, that 65% of employees were looking for new jobs. Picking up the pieces when others depart adds pressure to remaining employees and their managers and increases risk of burnout.

The 2021 Global Leadership Forecast from Development Dimensions International surveyed over 2,100 human resource professionals and almost 16,000 managers around the world confirms that burnout poses a major retention risk.

  • Out of burnout, 44% of leaders expect to change companies to advance their career and 26% plan to leave the company soon
  • 86% of the high potential employees report feeling burnout and are very likely to leave the company soon

Although potential employees are entering the job market, replacing lost talent has become even more challenging for corporate leaders. As the above statistics indicate, stress and burnout are the main reasons people consider leaving their jobs.

So the central question becomes how best to deal with this situation?

Additional vacation time and dedicated free time blocks are helpful first steps but they really wouldn’t solve the problem. Even after returning feeling rested from long awaited vacations, energized and refreshed, it doesn’t take long for employees to again feel overwhelmed by work responsibilities. It’s not only being exhausted but feeling ineffective in their jobs that leads to sub-par performance. It could, rather, simply be a lack a sense of meaning and job satisfaction due to lack of emotional support. Many workplace surveys indicate the importance for managers to provide a deep sense of purpose and belongingness to the organisation, by committing to the following:

  • Providing emotional security first, then focus on efficiency
  • Practicing empathy in communications and all actions
  • Allowing autonomy while also providing support
  • Make learning a priority, encourage knowledge sharing and meaningful networking
  • Be transparent and keep asking what they feel challenged with

COVID-19 has shaped the way we work and our attitude towards the centrality of work in all our lives. Resilience, risk tolerance and therefore, personal responsibility and the tendency to re-evaluate the choices made in life and at work are in play more than ever. The pandemic has raised awareness about health, family, sustainability and the need for greater autonomy in the workplace. Changes in employees’ attitudes require managers to transform their leadership practices into a more sustainable mode. Sudden changes which worked during the crisis allowed companies to survive, and even maintain productivity, but only in the short run.

In the longer run, as the workplace transitions from survival mode towards one of sustainable prosperity, managers must adopt new stratagems to increase motivation, optimism which will lead to higher employee retention and a deeper commitment to the organisation.

Providing a deep sense of purpose and belongingness to the organization comes with the leaders’ understanding of people, purpose and productivity. Bonar Institute can help transform your organization by advancing leaders’ ability to link organizational purpose and employee’s belief in that purpose. Narrowing the ‘purpose gap’ increases credibility around a shared vision.

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