How To Ensure New Employee Success During The Great Resignation


Jeff Simmons is president and CEO of Elanco Animal Health, dedicated to advancing the health of animals, people and the planet.

The Great Resignation. The Great Reshuffle. The Big Quit. We’ve been bombarded with catchy names to describe a phenomenon you’re probably seeing play out right now in your career or industry: over four million Americans quit their jobs in September 2021. And with 10.4 million open jobs at the end of that month, many are seizing this moment to pivot and launch themselves into a new opportunity.

In my own company, I find meeting with each new employee orientation group essential. Connecting face-to-face with all new employees sets the tone and expectations, while creating the feeling of a small accessible company with a big culture. I end each session with four ingredients for a great start. In today’s environment, these apply more than ever.

If you have an influx of new talent on your team, check out these four ingredients for their success:

1. Create value.

Encourage your employees to add value now rather than waiting for permission. Some new employees think they need to fully learn the ropes or finish every training before providing input, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. You hired them to bring the unique skills and perspective only they can provide, so encourage them to get off the sidelines and start making an impact. Let them know they shouldn’t be afraid to ask why things are done the way they are, offer recommendations and even make mistakes along the way.

Great leaders create a culture where employees are empowered to take calculated risks that push the envelope. How are you setting the tone for your teams? What did you fail at today? How you respond can encourage others to be bold and create greater opportunity as a result.

2. Build community.

We’ve never needed community like we do now. A February 2021 report from the Harvard Graduate School of Education found that 36% of Americans said they’re experiencing “serious loneliness,” which has increased as a result of the pandemic. The health consequences of loneliness are often compared to the effects of smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

As leaders, we have the opportunity to combat this by striving for community instead of just a workplace. I call it a “safe harbor.” That means creating an environment where people feel comfortable bringing their entire selves to work. From fostering a sense of belonging to improving communication, forming relationships at work can help people thrive. We need to look for ways to help our teams create relationships that matter. Try encouraging them to set a goal to stay accountable, like getting to know ten people in their work community within their first 60 days. A Gallup poll found that 75% of the reasons people leave companies have to do with management choices, not the job itself. Building a strong community helps keep employees.

3. Find the “why.”

Why we do what we do matters more than what or how. One analysis of The Great Resignation found that 40% of employees cited burnout as a top reason for departing their job. This is a pervasive issue in society and establishing boundaries between work and life won’t solve the entire puzzle. It’s identifying our “why,” our purpose, that will keep the doldrums at bay, helping us thrive instead of just survive.

As a father of six, I know how important it is to have an answer ready for the question “Why?” Throughout their lives, I’ve gifted my children stones with mantras carved on them as tokens to encourage and inspire. When they are ready to head off to college, I gift them a stone that says “chase” because when someone is chasing something, they are a different kind of person, filled with passion and purpose. And they’re about to do just that — embark on a journey to find what they’re meant to do.

To help new employees find their why, start by asking them to think about what drives them. Whether that’s a passion for what they do at work every day or something outside of the job, research shows that having a sense of purpose is good for our well-being. In fact, a 2019 study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association found that older people who didn’t have a purpose or “self-organizing life aim” were far more likely to die early than those who did. That’s an extreme example, but we all need to take some time away from work to identify and pursue our passions and experience life in the real world. Encourage your employees to make time to take care of themselves and identify what motivates them.

4. Stay curious.

It’s vital to stay curious to feel energized and continue bringing our best selves to work every day. Research the latest trends in your area of expertise and share those with your teams, especially new hires, helping them understand what’s coming next. Encourage them to stay curious outside the workplace too, by reading for ten minutes a day or working on a passion project.

Do you have a mentor who pushes you? Do you encourage people on your teams to mentor each other? 91% of workers with a career mentor say they are happy in their jobs, according to the latest CNBC/SurveyMonkey Workplace Happiness Survey. I believe in the power of mentoring because I’ve seen it work in the mentoring association I helped found. A strong mentor/mentee relationship is a gift for both people and makes an incredible impact on a worker’s career.

While the rapid pace of this societal shift may feel unsettling, don’t be afraid to mix these ingredients together to define the next chapter of the workplace. Creating value, building community, finding a purpose and staying curious will always serve both you and your teams well.


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