What do Employees Want from Leaders Today? Don't Guess

By Tom Morrison posted 11-24-2021 10:06 AM


What do employees want from leaders today? Don’t guess. Ask, listen, and adapt to boost workplace respect.

The Great Resignation seems to be gaining strength. A record 4.4 million US workers voluntarily quit their jobs in September 2021. Nearly 24 million US workers have quit since April.

This situation won’t get better in the months to come.

A global McKinsey study found that 40% of respondents are likely to quit in the next three to six months.

This study says that senior executives must understand why employees are leaving and why too few candidates are taking open jobs.

When executives were asked why employees had quit, they said it’s due to compensation, work-life balance, and poor physical and emotional health.

These things do matter to employees, but they’re not in employees’ top three reasons for quitting. The top three factors are:

  • 54% said they didn’t feel valued by their organizations
  • 52% said they didn’t feel valued by their managers
  • 51% didn’t feel a sense of belonging at work

It is no wonder that offers of higher pay, working from home, well-being programs, etc., are not causing employees to stay, nor are they causing candidates to join your company.

What can business leaders do to address these gaps?

 First, embrace this mantra: Employees of all generations desire and deserve workplaces where they are respected and validated for their ideas, efforts and contributions, every day.

With that belief firmly in your hearts, stop assuming you know what your employees want. Instead, ask them. Your employees' top reasons for quitting may not match the top three from the McKinsey study. You need to learn what your employees need and want -- and adapt systems, procedures, and behaviors to deliver.

Finally, start small. Fix things that are seen as unfair and unjust. By closing a few important gaps promptly, you’ll prove that you want the work culture to be respectful and validating for everyone.

Written by:  S. Chris Edmonds,  speaker, author, and executive consultant with The Purposeful Culture Group, where he is founder and CEO, for SmartBrief.