You Are Working Hard. Is Your Company?

More moms are doing the work to connect their values and their tasks list, but we are still living through the impact of the Great Exhaustion  (as I recently heard it called) – with talent retainment and acquisition the biggest challenge facing organizations – and the quiet quitting phenomenon making it seem like employees are not yet getting what they need.

It makes me wonder- what are companies doing to deal with these topics to better support, engage and retain their employees?

While there has been lots of discussion on the issue of work-from-home versus in-office days, and the impact of this on engagement, these conversations are actually missing the larger point. Studies show that post-pandemic employees are “belief-driven,” with 59% of workers ranking finding an organization that fits better with their values as the biggest reason for changing jobs, with better compensation and advancement ranked last at 31%.

So how should companies reflect on their values and culture, decision making and the impact that has on employees?

One of the first exercises I take clients through is identifying their personal, professional and family values that will guide their priorities and decision making going forward.

For an organization, the process isn’t so different.

Defining and clarifying company values
Many companies today espouse a long list of values, with an inventory of generic words that don’t inspire or bring people together. Who can disagree with “integrity” or “respect?” As a first step, organizations need to identify the core virtues that reflect their brand and culture – either the one they already have or the one they hope to build for the future.

It’s also important to be specific when defining company values – and make sure everyone understands them similarly. For example, recently in session with a working mom, the word “connection” came up as one of her values. To ensure we were on the same page, I asked her to define what she meant by this word for our work. She defined it as connecting with people around you, as well as understanding the world and the part you play. It helped in our work to fully understand how connection plays out in her life.

Putting values to work
This is where making values-based decisions come into play, and choices are made based on the values determined and defined. No matter how important, worthy, or profitable the decision in question might be, if it doesn’t fit within their core values, it doesn’t happen, saving valuable time and resources. This laser focus on specific areas can be a benefit for the overall health of companies, but especially for burnt out employees.

With working moms this often ends the trade-off debates of healthy dinner versus time together as a family, exercise versus more sleep, and even working to ease the burden financially versus staying home with the kids. By being clear about what’s important, the answer becomes easy.

Staying accountable
While mission creep to some degree is unavoidable as a company grows and diversifies, during times of stress and prolonged pressure, it’s important to return to the basics – those core values that can help manage employee energy and morale until capacity can be built.

I ask the women I work with to communicate their values to their partners, families and friends, in order to create a support network of cheerleaders, as well as participate in the accountability role that I often play for them.

In an organization, the responsibility of upholding values can be tough with the introduction of hierarchy and questioning your boss. It also gets complicated in start-ups when decisions are based on the whims of the founder. A well-trained committee made up of different levels of the organization should provide the accountability for values-based decisions that fall into a gray area.

By putting in the effort to evaluate their own operations and list of tasks through the lens of their values, companies can address the ongoing issues of burnout and disengagement. They would find the tools to adapt and support their workforce and their shareholders from a place of clarity and confidence, much like my working mom clients.