No, Your People Aren’t Leaving In Search Of A Better Job

No, Your People Aren’t Leaving In Search Of A Better Job

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They say the “Great Resignation” is underway. From food service to the C-Suite, employees are leaving for better opportunities, for broader horizons, for more flexible work conditions.

But mostly, they’re just leaving because the work they were doing isn’t enough anymore.

As I said in this article, I’m more inclined to call this the “Great Awakening.” The pandemic gave people around the world the time, even the mandate, to reevaluate everything about their lives. And for many, their current job just didn’t live up to the value system they decided to live by as a result of that reevaluation. Those people aren’t just looking for a better job. They’re looking for more than a job.

One quote from the Yahoo News article I referenced above really stands out; “[people] say they are looking for a job ‘that is meaningful to them, that connects them to the mission of the organization that they work for. People want to have substance in what they are doing.’”

Connection, the second of what I call the 6 Facets of Human Needs™, is one of the most basic of human needs. It’s closely tied to survival, to our feelings of belonging and having a place in the world, and to feeling fulfilled as a meaningful member of the society we function within. It makes perfect sense that, after this period of enforced isolation, people are even more mindful of finding opportunities that they feel “connect them to the mission of the organization they work for.”

Without that sense of connection to others and to something bigger than themselves people feel like a plug-and-play robot or just another cog in the wheel. Connection on the other hand, builds commitment. I am not saying that no one ever leaves a situation where they feel connected, but when other factors are reasonably equal humans will always prefer to work where they feel like they belong.

While I agree that people are looking for a feeling of being connected to the company mission, the truth is that your mission or values is only one of many ways to create that sense of meaningful connection. (And remember, you must first have clarity about your mission before you can share it in such a way that people feel connected to it.)

Perhaps the most powerful, and the most challenging, way to build connection is through shared emotional experiences. I recently facilitated a client leadership meeting where a new leader was presenting for the first time. She struggled a bit, then decided to be both brave and vulnerable and admitted that she was experiencing a major case of impostor syndrome. She let her guard down, let her emotions show, and every other leader present in that meeting began to do they same. They shared their humanity in their deepest fears of failure, of being judged, or not being enough.

In that meeting the leadership team created a deeper sense of connection than any “nurturing exercise” could ever generate. They bonded over their human moments and came out of that room not only more connected to each other, but better prepared to connect to their teams and to help their team members connect to each other.

Sharing emotional human moments takes courage, but it yields rewards like loyalty, commitment, cohesiveness, and collaboration that are beyond price and cannot be bought.

As your leaders and teams navigate reintegration into the workplace and reevaluation of their values you have a window of opportunity to have your own “great awakening” and to create a culture that celebrates humanity, facilitates connection, and avoids being part of the “great resignation.”

Originally posted on

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