Over the past two years, we’ve witnessed an immense shift in what individuals expect from their work environments. Across industries, workers are leaving positions that don’t offer the flexibility, transparency and mobility that is now an expectation, rather than a perk. Even when they don’t leave their jobs, many are now engaging in “quiet quitting,” or putting in the bare minimum required to keep their salaries.
No company can afford the slowdown in productivity that that implies, nor can we, as leaders, afford to waste time criticizing this new trend. What we need to do is engage workers so that they feel their roles at work align with their personal interests and passions. Empowering team members to craft their careers and make an impact within their roles has the power to create positive returns for our businesses in the long run, by keeping people engaged and interested in making a continued impact. With this in mind, I’ve outlined the key qualities organizations should strive for to help their teams build more fulfilling careers, amidst a dynamic macroeconomic environment.
1. Cultivate career fulfillment with a personalized journey.
As an entrepreneur myself, I believe that having a personal interest in—and accountability to—your work is critical. With 62% of employees seeking greater purpose in their work, organizations that encourage individuals to shape their own unique roles and responsibilities can retain more talent, leading to better business outcomes. In fact, purpose-driven companies tend to experience 40% higher levels of workforce retention than other organizations.
When organizations allow people to personalize their roles early on, a greater sense of impact and purpose can motivate them to contribute new ideas from the start. Leaders need to empower their teams to embrace their entrepreneurial spirit, take more ownership over their work—and ultimately, careers—by seizing new opportunities. This leads to a happier, more engaged workforce, and in turn, further business growth.
For example, someone on the IT team may express interest in contributing an idea to the marketing team, or join a project outside of their department that interests them. If there is a new opportunity to participate outside of the typical job function, and there is bandwidth, leaders should encourage their team members to seize it. Allowing teams to openly collaborate across functions can hone new skills, bring new perspectives to the table, and instill a greater sense of impact. Creating an environment where individuals feel empowered to come to work and use their unique experiences to make an impact on colleagues, clients, and local communities is when the best work gets done.
2. Don’t fear failure.
When leaders allow their individual contributors to take on new opportunities or pursue new ideas, those opportunities will likely be challenging, and may require additional support upfront. That said, initial hiccups or failures shouldn’t keep your people from pursuing their goals or raise any red flags. Hashing out a new idea or creating a new process takes trial and error. Just like everything else in life, if you fail at first it’s essential you pivot quickly, devise an improved plan for success and do not make the same mistake twice.
Allowing for a more personalized journey requires periods of experimentation, but that should not discourage managers. When embarking on a new project or joining a new team, people need the space to develop their skills, take training courses, and grow at their own pace. Taking on a new role often requires an initial period of learning and exploration, but providing stretch opportunities to grow often leads to more benefit than any initial mistake or perceived failure. At AvePoint, we promote the growth mindset, offering tuition reimbursement for colleagues, providing cross-departmental training sessions, and stretch opportunities. The goal is to promote continuous learning and stimulate interest beyond core competencies to ensure our people are fully engaged and fulfilled.
3. Take feedback into account.
It’s critical to ensure that leadership solicits feedback in ways that will resonate throughout the entire organization. Taking individuals’ feedback into account can help you better gauge which methods are most efficient, and which need to be re-evaluated. At AvePoint, we offer regular opportunities for our colleagues to join sessions led by my senior leadership team as well as regularly measure colleague engagement and satisfaction.
When it comes to tracking development and feedback on a more granular level, managers should regularly meet one-on-one with their team members and provide the necessary resources they need to develop and make an impact in their roles.
Soliciting feedback not only helps to ensure that your people are fulfilled, but it also creates a culture of growth from the bottom up and top down where everyone, at every level, is continuously learning. Further, cultivating a company culture that encourages diversity, equity and inclusion has the power to drive business performance and foster increased loyalty and satisfaction among everyone. Encouraging individuals to be themselves and keeping team members engaged across functions directly contributes to overall productivity, and will create increasing returns to your business in the long run.
In an increasingly competitive job market and difficult macroeconomic environment, it’s clear that workplace perks have dramatically changed, and individuals are less likely to be drawn in by ping pong tables, happy hours, or bagel Mondays. Growing your best talent starts with encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit and providing opportunities to stretch beyond core role responsibilities. The key to driving growth for your business starts with tapping into the unique perspectives of your team members and allowing them to flourish, even if at first you incur a short-term risk. Motivating individuals to speak up and pursue what interests them most can lead to greater success for your organization, ultimately stimulating increased productivity and output.