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The Great Re-Negotiation: Re-Visiting the Employee-Employer Relationship

Instead of worrying about the Great Resignation, it’s time for organizations to pivot to a Great Re-Negotiation. But keep in mind – a good negotiation requires strong relationships.

Where working relationships are strained, it’s hard to openly communicate needs and collaborate towards win/win scenarios… which leads to a breakdown of trust between employer and employee, and ultimately increases attrition.

This dynamic makes it clear that in order to turn the Great Resignation into the Great Re-Negotiation, there has to be a real investment in relationships. Is your organization investing in the type of relationships that can evolve and grow as circumstances demand? Do employees feel like they can engage in a re-assessment of their skills and contributions– or do they have to jump ship in order to get their needs met? With a foundation of strong relationships, re-negotiation can simply become a normal, healthy, and expected part of the work relationship – not just a reaction to a VUCA business environment.

The Great Resignation is being driven by a breakdown in relationships.

Great Resignation data reveals that yes, huge numbers of people want to or are thinking about leaving their jobs – as much as 95% of the workforce by some measures. You don’t get to numbers like that without something going very wrong in the employer-employee relationship. However, keep in mind that considering quitting is not the same as actually quitting. This means that there are productive ways for organizations and leaders to step in and make sure that relationships get back on track, are staying on track… or even better, actually evolving to meet current and future needs.

It starts from the top.

Building strong working relationships that are aligned with the company’s values, its growth trajectory, and broader market trends starts with leadership. It should be modeled at every level of the organization. Early- and mid-career employees need to see that there is an established culture of openness, where they don’t have to resign in order to re-negotiate their working conditions. The whole process needs a rethink.

The Rethink.

Re-negotiate from a “re-recruitment” mindset.

Managers are used to thinking about negotiation as something that happens at the hiring stage. The recruiting, offer, and onboarding phase of employment typically involves a lot of negotiating and compromise – matching skills to deliverables, discussing salary and benefits, and setting expectations for performance. All too often these conversations are considered to be part of the admin that has to be finished and filed away before the REAL work can start.

But organizations, jobs, and people don’t stay static. Responsibilities grow, and skills stretch in order to meet those responsibilities. If communication is poor and working relationships are stressed, and if the new skills and increased responsibilities aren’t acknowledged, burnout and attrition can result. As part of the Great Re-Negotiation, approach re-recruitment based on who your employees are now – their skills, growth in contribution, and evolved career aspirations. Always keeping in mind your organizational needs — now and in the future.

The Re-Recruit.

Re-recruit your employees with career development and alignment meetings.

Engage your employees in conversations about their interests, values, strengths, aspirations, development gaps, needs and vision for the future –theirs, and the organization’s.

These career development and alignment discussions allow you to make a plan for growing skills that benefit the employee’s career goals – which ultimately strengthens the organization’s capacity to perform, compete, and achieve its vision and purpose. These discussions prove long term intent and mutual investment, and can set the stage for coming to the negotiation table in a natural, positive way… leading to a win/win outcome for both parties.

Apply the lessons from this dynamic market to your own organization, and cultivate transparent, frequent, and positive communication with your people. People are searching for a lot of things in today’s market… whether that’s increased flexibility, more opportunities for skill development, work that aligns with their interests and values, or upward mobility. The circumstances and outcomes will be unique to each individual, but if organizations actively pursue a re-visioning of the employer/employee relationship, they will establish a strong foundation for turning the Great Resignation into the Great Re-Negotiation.

Read Part 1: Making the Case for a Great Re-Negotiation
Read Part 3: Re-Navigating for the Future

Success Labs is a leadership development and management consulting firm in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. For more than 25 years, our expert team of consultants has worked with hundreds of companies to grow leaders, build teams and drive results through great people strategy. Contact us to get proactive about expanding your company’s potential, and stay up-to-date with our latest news and leadership development updates here.

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