Responding to the great resignation with empathy
The world of work has changed dramatically, especially in the last couple of years with COVID-19 which led to the so-called Great Resignation impacting employers and employees alike.
To understand how the dial has shifted and what employers need to do to create great places to work, we spoke to Arianna Huffington, Founder and CEO at Thrive, and Sundar Raman, Chief Executive Officer for Fabric and Home Care at Procter & Gamble.
Arianna: “COVID-19 and The Great Resignation have been a time in which millions of people around the world have realised they want more from their jobs than just a paycheck. They’ve realised they want a sense of meaning in their roles, to be understood, and ultimately, the freedom to bring their true selves to work.
At Thrive, one of the ways we empower team members to do this is by conducting “entry interviews” when employees join. These interviews are a way for leaders to understand more about their future colleagues, what they’re passionate about outside of their work, what their priorities are in their lives, and how the company can support them. This helps to build trust from day one and allows team members to be open about bringing their whole selves to work. Leaving conversations like this only to “exit interviews” misses a valuable opportunity.”
Sundar Raman: “Creating forums where we can have open conversations with our people is more important than ever, especially in light of the past couple of years and against the backdrop of the pandemic. I recently sat down with several colleagues to understand what keeps them coming to work, as well as to understand their expectations and what they are looking for at P&G. What I heard can be broken down into a few key areas.
The first being the importance of having a true opportunity to learn and grow. Giulia, for example, who joined P&G just two years ago as a finance analyst, told us she was passionate about expanding her finance skills and learning about brand building. Her managers proposed a brand building project for her to learn on the job, which became a meaningful learning opportunity for her.
Working in a place where we feel valued and rewarded is another important area. Lea, who joined us just three months ago, loves coming to work because her colleagues make her feel welcomed and supported. She recently received her first “Power of You” award – one of the many reward systems we have in place - with thank you notes and flowers from her colleagues.
The fourth and final learning is that people are inspired to work for an inclusive company. Giuseppe has had a successful career in product supply for more than three decades. During this time, he found P&G to be a safe place to openly talk about the challenges he faced as a gay man. His colleagues became his advocates, supporting him in coming out publicly and he has since become a role model and sponsor for the LGBTQ+ community in P&G”.
Arianna Huffington: “Creating the space and opportunity for employees to be themselves is critical, as is the role of active empathy within organisations. A lot of people look at empathy as this soft, fuzzy thing, but not as a real business metric – which is completely wrong. Studies show that employers that prioritise empathy not only benefit in the form of employee retention and stronger diversity and inclusion, but also, at the end of the day, in profitability.
In fact, empathy is so important that at Thrive we directly train managers to build empathy into their conversations with their employees, so they can not only understand them and make them feel supported, but also to help them reach their highest potential”.
Sundar Raman: “Building your career is like a jigsaw puzzle; employers and employees need to put the pieces together so it fits both personal and work expectations. Building empathy is key to uncovering the pieces that matter the most. As I reflected on my conversations with our P&G colleagues, I realized that each person has unique and different pieces that change over time depending on their life stages and lifestyles. Therefore, the pieces of the puzzle need to be reshuffled from time to time over a career. The journey of reshuffling this puzzle will help us create great places to work for everyone to bring their best authentic selves”.