The idea that an entreprise must first, as Milton Friedman put it, serve the shareholders, has failed miserably. Yet this vision persists, it clings like a mussel to its peg. It is all very well to know that focusing on short-term performance and profitability means taking the risk of doing so at the expense of the main resource without which a company cannot function, namely the people who make it up. Even hundreds of studies on the subject came to the same conclusion: without the engagement of their employees, busineses are bound to fail sooner or later. In fact, they are likely to fail sooner than later, as evidenced by the phenomenon of the “great resignation” observed recently around the world, particularly in the United States and the UK.
It is not so much the pandemic as the attitude of the leaders that is the cause. COVID has only accelerated the phenomenon.
Already, and before 2020, Gallup reported that more than 85% of workers worldwide were not happy at work and more than 65% were considering quitting their jobs. Today, anxiety, stress, anger and sadness among employees worldwide have reached record levels in 2020.
In its latest study, Gallup found that about seven out of ten employees are struggling or suffering in their lives in general. 80% are not engaged or are actively disengaged at work (FYI, this lack of engagement is costing the global economy US$8.1 trillion, or, again according to Gallup, nearly 10% of GDP… US$8.1 trillion is a lot…).
What’s in store for us? You don’t have to be a Harvard graduate to imagine it: a major mental health problem, especially in companies that insist on following the shareholder value dogma mentioned above. These companies are not likely to last long. And for one simple reason: “customers will never love a company if employees don’t love it first” (this Tweet is S. Sinek’s, not mine).
If people’s concerns and stress are not considered by their management, and if they realize that life is too short to continue doing a job they hate, those who can leave their company will do so (hence the phenomenon of the “great resignation” mentioned above). As for the others, they will be less and less engaged and motivated at work, and absenteeism is likely to soar. Not to mention that those who are actively disengaged at work will become more and more toxic, spreading their bitterness and dissatisfaction to the entire staff, who will find nothing to complain about as anxiety and stress will have become widespread within the organization.
Are there solutions to remedy this? Yes. Here are some of them:
– Clearly articulate the purpose of your mission and your vision. Tell your employees why they do what they do and make sure it is for a just cause. If it’s to satisfy your own ambitions or the interests of your shareholders, chances are you won’t last long, especially in a times of trouble,
– Clearly define the just cause that will attract the support of all your employees. It can be a cause on which to base and develop a purpose-driven corporate culture,
– Show that you care about making sure employees feel good and that their concerns are addressed and acted upon.
– Make sure that employees reconnect with each other and that they can find each other,
– Foster collaboration, for example by encouraging teamwork through solidarity actions or impact projects,
– Encourage social intrapreneurship. I’ve already posted an article on this. Intrapreneurship promotes personal growth and innovation. It is never a loss for the company, contrary to popular belief,
And above all, walk the talk. There is nothing more noticeable than bullshit or empty slogans. These are indicative of a lack of vision and authenticity. No one will want to work for a company that is not worth the effort.
In short, do EVERYTHING to make employees FEEL GOOD, and LOVE your company. Fostering the development of a healthy and positive corporate culture will make them the most fervent ambassadors of your organization.