We spend almost 30 percent of all our waking time on the job. Thus, creating a workplace culture that helps employees feel fulfilled results in greater career happiness and improved employee retention rates. Whether the Great Resignation is over or not, “stay conversations” must be REAAL (Resilient, Engaged, Aligned, Agile and a Learning Mindset) to rebuild a healthy, high-performing culture. Authentic, genuine conversations are crucial to employee retention and happiness – don’t wait until an employee is out the door to make a change to get them to stay. Instead, focus on creating REAAL connections early and show your employees you are willing and want to invest in them. But why REAAL, and why now?
Since the pandemic, there has been a growing mismatch between the demand for talent and the number of workers willing to supply it. Employers have continued to emphasize traditional motivators like pay, job title, and advancement opportunities, but a good majority of the workforce is pushing back. Why? Because workers have begun to reevaluate what they truly want in a job. Employees are no longer seeking traditional motivators that employers used to offer. Instead, employees are seeking flexibility, employer empathy, and genuine connections. This calls for a reevaluation of the way employers retain and attract talent. Employers can no longer operate in a traditional mindset. Instead, organizations must stay current with the changing trends, dig into employee motivators to create resourceful ways to keep employees happy, and most importantly, have REAAL, authentic relationships with your colleagues.
The following five REAAL pillars combined with understanding the behavioral breakdown of NeuroLeadership Institute Co-Founder & CEO Dr. David Rock’s SCARF model can ultimately help foster meaningful, authentic conversations and relationships in the workplace, which are essential to organizational success.
REAAL relationships are built on the following five elements:
Resilient – the ability to bounce back from challenges, while adapting to changing needs, becoming stronger from the adversity. Resilience is built on clear communication, active listening, and transparency.
Engaged – the power of employees’ mental and emotional connection toward their work, their teams, and their organization. Here, you feel that your opinion matters and your contributions are meaningful. Everyone has different engagement levels with varying influencing motivators and fulfillment levels (EEE/SCARF).
Aligned – the capability to understand how to contribute personal strengths to drive organizational mission, values, and goals. When your behaviors and thoughts are aligned, you have clarity and your actions are accountable.
Agile – the ability to adapt to the changing needs of customers, employees, and the marketplace with little effort, little disruption – listening to what is working well and being open to what could be even better is an essential focus.
Learning Mindset – the embracing of curiosity, perseverance, determination, desire for development and growth, being open to new ideas, while remaining humble, open to other’s ideas and feedback. By changing the way you think, you can change the way you learn.
Without REAAL relationships with one another, productivity, engagement, and motivation significantly decrease in the workplace. As McKinsey’s research (July 2022) indicates, all employees’ desires are not equal; engagement motivators differ from employee to employee. With research-backed behavioral assessments like the Harrison Assessment, employers can dig deep and discover what fulfills and motivates each employee at work. Grasping individual employee expectations and having meaningful REAAL conversations will boost collaboration, communication, and workplace engagement.
Understanding and incorporating someone’s emotional and social needs into engagement motivators produce employees who are involved and enthusiastic about their work. These behavioral and employee expectation assessments can also be used as platforms for authentic, REAAL conversations that enhance workplace relationships.
Remember, having a strong, supportive, professional circle builds trust, self-awareness, and inclusion. According to Dr. David Rock’s research (SCARF, 2015), when employees feel a genuine sense of importance (Status) in the workplace and have clarity of what is expected of them (Certainty), motivation and engagement increase. Research also shows that people want to be trusted to do their work (Autonomy) and not be micromanaged. As people feel heard and cared for (Relatedness), they experience having meaning in the workplace and feel connected to others; people also desire equitable treatment for themselves and others (Fairness).
As each person’s SCARF is rewarded, they engage and are more likely to interact and foster relationships with those around them. Invest in creating mutually beneficial relationships where both parties enter every conversation with a genuine interest and openness to learn. When REAAL relationships exist, and people’s SCARF acronyms are rewarded, employees are more comfortable, confident, and creative in the workplace!
LEADERSHIP TAKEAWAY: Focus on creating REAAL connections early and show your employees you are willing and want to invest in them. Remember work must be meaningful, and relationships at work matter!
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Dr. Cheri Rainey is the CEO/Founder of Rainey Leadership Learning, partnering with leaders to support the entire employee life cycle.