What caused “The Great Resignation” of 2021? Over 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs in November alone, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Three-quarters of 1,800 U.S. workers in a September survey by The Conference Board cited stress and burnout as critical challenges, up from 55% six months earlier. Half of all employees said their mental health was at stake.

To businesses determined to survive, that’s a wake-up call to perceptions of toxic workplace culture, management failure to recognize and reward work, frustrating innovation, and too frequently, clumsy response to the disruptions of Covid-19.

An organization’s culture now defines it, and companies out of step lose employees and revenue. Change has come fast. Response requires immediate action. 

Take a stance. Today, the American worker and customer look to business for social leadership as much as to legislatures or politicians. The latest Edelman Trust Barometer reported that nearly 1 out of 2 respondents found government and the media to be divisive forces. Sixty percent said they choose a workplace based on their personal beliefs and values, not just salary and benefits. That means that businesses must reach out through public relations and weigh in on issues of importance to employees, investors and customers. Assume that assumptions about you are wrong. Proactively correct them with strategic messaging. And walk the talk.

Listen up. The crucial element in every successful workplace is open communication, and management must have its ears open. It only takes one disgruntled employee and a negative Glassdoor or Facebook review to dent a company’s retention efforts. Executives must listen to their teams regarding what works and what doesn’t and make course corrections quickly. Social media has a pivotal role in retention and recruitment. Glassdoor reports that 79% of job seekers scour a company’s social media when searching for a new job. They’re looking for the validation of success not just in the marketplace, but in employee satisfaction.

Spotlight culture. Being a “best place to work” takes a conscious effort. Self-nominate for awards in the category. Great Place to Work®, Comparably, and Inc. look for the employers and companies of the future – businesses that prioritize employee well-being and prove themselves aware of the world around them with its issues of workplace flexibility, gender and even climate change. Awareness alone – the acknowledgement of the world we live in – boosts employee morale.

Today’s business leaders are agents of change. They know their most valuable assets are their employees and they value their scrutiny. They aim for workers who feel seen, heard and valued. They know that their people are the voice of the company’s story and can tell a tale of success – or of stagnation.

In 2022, corporate culture takes center stage in building employee resilience.

Tracy-Williams owc-logo


Tracy Williams, President and CEO, Olmstead Williams Communications.

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