Aké Satia is the Chief Vision Officer at Aké Satia, a Human Capital firm in the DC area focused on strengthening organizations by bolstering the intersection of people strategy and business strategy.



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Why Would Your Employees Return to Work?

Today, there is a great fascination with The Great Resignation! – The phenomenon that employees left their jobs during the pandemic in droves and are not returning to work! And this is of significant interest to leaders in all industries because it is impossible to produce without workers. Notably, the unforeseen benefit of the great resignation is that it has exposed the value of the workforce. Specifically, the rationale and the need to view the people we work with as a critical part of the organization, not just a cog in a wheel.

Before we go further, let’s ponder the question: Why Would Employees Return to Work? Upon reflection, you might find that when you read the title of this article, your initial thought was: Well, everyone needs money! So, workers should return to the office to make money. And if that was your first thought, you are not alone. Indeed, we are often inclined to think that due to societal pressures and basic human needs, many will put up with anything (or almost anything!) to get money. And if you were inclined to think this way, I would encourage you to think again. Because while it is true that money is a huge motivator and, for many, the prime reason for keeping a job, there’s more to it! Workers are humans and expect more than money from their organizations! But how many organizations believe that and demonstrate it? Indeed, this is worth considering because, after two years of a mass employee exodus, this could be why many organizations are still struggling to compel employees back into the office!

Well, organizations haven’t exactly been idle for the last few years. Indeed, many have spent a lot of time, effort, and funds to get employees back to work. And many have relied on the usual suspects for attracting talent, such as higher wages, great benefits, and renovated office spaces. But their efforts have yielded limited results, and the solution for getting much-needed labor and talent remains an enigma. – This begs the question: Why would an employee return to work?

And to answer this question, it’s helpful to reflect on what happens when we exit situations as humans! – When someone leaves a professional or personal relationship, we might be inclined to focus on why they left and perhaps why they shouldn’t have left. And this line of thinking often leads us to blame others or try to justify our actions. While this is a natural tendency because most of us don’t like to bear the blame, it can also be self-limiting. But one of the main ways to maintain a strong connection with another person is to appeal to their desire to stay. Indeed, when someone believes and says: I’d rather be here than anywhere else, it is priceless! – This is a nut that employers have the opportunity to crack to get their employees back to work. And a great place to start is understanding why employees left in the first place.

Fortunately, many studies shed light on the top reasons why employees leave jobs. And a report that was published in February 2022 by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce revealed that the top three reasons why workers say they are quitting are:

– The pay is too low
– No opportunities for advancement
– Felt disrespected at work

You might be surprised to learn that benefits or going into the physical office did not show up as one of the top three reasons for resignations. It might also surprise you that the top three reasons are not exclusive to the pandemic. And you might have heard someone give one of these reasons as they walked out the door. Or perhaps, you were that person!
Ironically, the top three reasons for employee resignations reveal a common theme – the need and opportunity to improve communication. And here are some ways to strengthen that muscle:

– The pay is too low

  • Response: The leader initiates conversations with employees about their pay, sheds light on how the employee’s pay is determined and discusses their concerns.

– No opportunities for advancement

  • Response: Candid conversations with leaders and employees about opportunities to grow their careers and improve their skills.

– Felt disrespected at work

  • Response: Simply asking someone what makes them feel respected is a great place to start! And this is a helpful question for leaders to ask employees because we all desire to know that we matter – that our opinions are sought and acknowledged. Also, conversations about pay and opportunities for advancement between leaders and employees present a prime opportunity to meet this need.

It is impossible to have a workforce where no one ever leaves – voluntarily or involuntarily. However, leaders can foster a healthy environment where employees thrive and contribute toward meeting organizational goals. And in this pursuit, it is worth remembering that while a leader and employee will not always agree on the “right” pay or the “next best career opportunity,” together, they can create an environment where people contribute and choose to stay.


SOURCE: Data Deep Dive: A Decline of Women in the Workforce | U.S. Chamber of Commerce (uschamber.com)

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