Are your people showing signs of being COVID-weary? Are you finding your employee engagement programs are no longer the wellbeing booster for people that they used to be?  Are there whispers and signs of an exodus of employees but you’re not sure what to do about it?

If so, you’re not alone.  Many organizations around the world are facing what has been dubbed as the Great Resignation as employees seek more meaningful, more engaging, and better-paid work opportunities.  

“We often assume employee engagement is correlated with wellbeing, because typically, when employee engagement improves, so too does employee wellbeing,” explained Jim Harter, Ph.D., who is chief scientist for Gallup’s Workplace Management and Well-Being Practices when we chatted with him recently.

“But this relationship shifted for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Our research found that while employee engagement rates increased slightly, wellbeing indicators dropped. We can no longer assume that wellbeing and engagement go hand in hand,” said Jim.

So, what can be done to encourage people to stay?

Gallup developed a new measure to address this called the Gallup Net Thriving Scale (GNTS). This assesses the participants’ thriving by asking them to reflect on their current and future life.  

“Thriving is when people think about their present life, in very positive terms, and they also think about their future life in the next five years in very positive terms,” Jim explained.

“We saw evidence in this current pandemic, where those two things aren’t always the same. How I think about now and how I think about the future can be very different. But when the net of those two things come together when someone sees where they’re headed in a positive way and they have a positive view of the present, that’s Net Thriving,” he said.

Workplaces create a Net Thriving Culture when managers support the five factors, which are generalizable across the world, that Gallup have found explain what leads to a thriving life.  These are:

  • Career wellbeing – Do our team members like what they do every day?
  • Social wellbeing – Do our team members have meaningful friendships at work?
  • Financial wellbeing – How can we support our people to manage their money well?
  • Physical wellbeing – More than just having good health, can we support our teams to have enough energy to do the things they want to and we need them to?
  • Community wellbeing – Do we encourage our teams to give back to our community in a way that’s meaningful for them?

When team members experience a Net Thriving Culture, they have a positive mindset and are likely to take on discretionary actions that can help the culture or others get through difficult times.  There is more innovation and higher productivity and teams cooperate with each other easily. Which is why people want to stay. The good news is, it doesn’t need to cost a lot of money.

Jim suggests the critical work of supporting managers to have meaningful conversations with their people is best done through the following steps:

  • Engagement first.  It’s important to get the basics right, and so your people need to be clear on what their role is and what’s expected of them.  People also need to feel like their manager knows, appreciates, and understands them, and that they’re able to use their strengths in a regular and meaningful way.
  • From “boss” to “coach.” Instead of having a workplace full of bosses, cultivate a workplace full of coaches who are great at helping their people set up goals in a collaborative way.  This may be a new skill for managers; if so, they may need support to learn a new approach so they are comfortable having meaningful conversations with people and giving on-going feedback and guidance.
  • Uplift accountability.  Do managers have a consistent system of accountability so that people are clear on what they need to do?  Making sure that your managers are equipped to give meaningful feedback regularly is important, as policies, programs, and perks will lay dormant if managers aren’t trained in ways to engage with their people and help guide them towards organizational resources that can help them.

How can you create a net thriving culture today?

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