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Leadership Boost: Understanding ‘The Workplace Reboot’

In the midst of The Great Resignation, here’s what restaurant operators should know about how we got here — and where we might go next.

Is the Great Resignation real? A colleague posted this question on his LinkedIn feed and within minutes over 4,500 people had responded; all with a resounding yes! Now this question is probably swirling in your mind, and likely causing more questions. That same curiosity led to research and to the understanding that The Great Resignation is part of a larger conversation: The Workplace Reboot.

Employers and employees are all trying to figure out how the workplace got to this point, if it is only pandemic related and, more importantly, what comes next. The Workplace Reboot takes a holistic view of the past, present and what the future can look like as seen through:

  • The Great Awakening
  • The Great Resignation
  • The Great Firing
  • The Great Reimagining
  • The Great Shuffle

You are likely wondering why so many “greats” if there is nothing wonderful about some of these. It is because these states/events are great in terms of magnitude and impact to you and your workplace.

The Great Awakening

Americans didn’t wake up one day and just decide to quit at the same time. There were many factors and events that led to this point. Prior to the pandemic the industry was facing what was called Talent Wars.  There were job openings but hiring managers felt there were not enough candidates with the skills, capabilities or cultural fit to fill them. Why? Because many of the candidates that could fill those roles were not making the moves and the ones that would make the moves had not been properly trained and therefore lacked the skills and capabilities. This could be traced back to The Great Recession when companies fired many, stripped away their training and learning and development budgets, opting instead to let a generation figure it out for themselves.

This resulted in a decade where employees began to feel that their employers did not value or want to invest in them. It led to hiring managers, or those on their teams, being over-worked because they were doing their job plus the one to three open roles they had on their team. It resulted in a workplace culture that was once composed of “lifers” to one of “jumpers” because the feeling was if employers would not be loyal so why should the employee.

So, what does this all have to do with The Great Awakening? Everything. Prior to the pandemic you had a workforce that worked long hours, having to pick between work responsibilities and their family time. They did this with the knowledge that they could lose their job regardless of their performance due to budget cuts, resulting in economic insecurity. Once these employees were all sent to work from home due to the pandemic, they had the opportunity to reflect on their life and many wondered, “is this all there is?” They realized they were existing and wanted a better workplace and life. A LinkedIn 2020 study found that employees want work that is aligned to their purpose and values, that is tied to positive social, environmental and gender impact, and that provides community, collaboration and personalized learning experiences. Wow, did you hear that? Learning experiences. Breaking it down, employees want alignment to their beliefs, ownership, interconnectedness, to be heard and to be where their contribution is valued and matters.

With time to be introspective, to awaken, employees decided it was time to make a change they had been putting off or were too overworked to even consider. This ushered in The Great Resignation.

The Great Resignation

Can you imagine if 41% of your team decided to resign this year? Where would that put your business? Wiley conducted a study this year that revealed that 41% of individual contributors and executives are considering leaving their jobs. This is in addition to the millions that have already done so. In August 2021, 4.3 million people quit their jobs, with the largest portion being in foodservice. This impacts every aspect of the foodservice industry.

If you consider what was shared in The Great Awakening, you will notice that money is not the primary factor for the resignations. Anthony Klotz, Associate Professor Management at Texas A&M, who first coined The Great Resignation phrase, states it is due to many pandemic related epiphanies.

As you consider this, what epiphanies are becoming evident for your business? If there was a Talent War before the pandemic, there is now a Talent Crisis. Add to this the number of women who had to leave the workforce to care for children who overnight went from the classroom to the living room to homeschool, and you not only have a Great Resignation, you have The Female Recession too.

The Great Firing

Think back to this time last year. The employees that ran your plants, filled your delivery orders, stocked your shelves, ran your customer service departments and drove the trucks were all considered essential and heralded as heroes. They have kept this nation and companies running, ensuring American families were nourished. Politics aside, these same essential employees now face The Great Firing.

With mandates and OSHA looming, many employers and families are having to make tough decisions. This only adds to the talent crisis and shortages the industry is facing. For those employees that have reasons not to accept the mandates, some of whom have years with their company, the understanding that they will be fired tugs at their emotions and thoughts of economic insecurity. Does it get any better?

The Great Reimagining

Many across industries are optimistic that it will get better and to get there it will take some reimagining.  Just as individuals awakened, employers need to awaken to how they can run their companies and teams differently. Habits are formed in approximately 120 days and the new habit of working from home instead of driving to work has had approximately 610 days to settle in. Will you reimagine a workforce that remains working from home or goes hybrid?

Companies are re-imagining this and considering what a hyper-hybrid model could look like. Employee performance is playing a part in this. In a McKinsey 2021 study, it was determined that during the pandemic about 50% of companies surveyed saw increased performance. The rest saw no change or no meaningful decrease.

Keeping performance in mind reimagining may mean how you train your team, or how you value your silver workforce. Could they contribute in different ways than they have in the past?  What about job sharing?  What technology could you embrace that allows for greater communication? Reimagining opens pathways you may have never considered before, because you didn’t have to or want to. It’s safe to say that now may be a time to allow yourself to reimagine because there is no going back.

The Great Shuffle

There has been much talk these past 20-months about resilience. By definition resilience is bouncing back to an original state. The shifts experienced these 20-months have shifted the original state so we are therefore talking about evolution instead. By reimagining you do not have to go back to where you were. Marshall Goldsmith states “what got you here, won’t get you there.” 

There will be a The Great Shuffle between industries, companies and roles. Leaders will need to develop new habits to succeed. They will need to consider how to repurpose or redesign roles while valuing the contributions each person brings and understanding what motivates them. Someone who was your top salesperson prior to the pandemic may have awakened to wanting to serve in a different way moving forward. Ask the questions and connect with your teams and future hires beyond the surface questions asked in the past. Knowing The Great Shuffle is and will be happening, reimagine what this can mean for you and your company and how you will evolve.

We are in a pivotal time that will define what the future of your company and your role will look like.  Knowing that this reboot will not be as easy as pressing control-alt-delete, what greatness will you reimagine and step into?

Laura_Bonich_Close.jpegAUTHOR BIO

Laura Bonich is the founder and CEO of The Leaders’ Lighthouse. Laura has over 20 years of restaurant and hospitality industry leadership and sales experience with brands including Burger King, H.J. Heinz, Campbell’s and more. Her areas of expertise are leadership development, solution-based sales and emotional intelligence. Laura also hosts the Nourishing Talk Podcast, published on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

TAGS: Operations
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