Creating healthy work culture takes empathy, vulnerability, says Utah executive coach

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Creating healthy work culture takes empathy, vulnerability, says Utah executive coach
© Provided by KTVX Salt Lake City Creating healthy work culture takes empathy, vulnerability, says Utah executive coach

(ABC4) – In case you hadn’t heard, The Great Resignation is a real thing in America and may have reverberating effects in the modern workplace.

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The latest data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics from November 2021 shows that of the 6.3 job separations that month, 4.5 million were voluntary employee decisions.

They quit, and they’re continuing to quit now more than ever.

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According to Dean Baker, who co-founded the Center for Economic Policy and Research at the University of Utah, one of the biggest reasons for the mass exodus of employees is the confidence they’ll find a better job somewhere else.

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“The unemployment rate came down much more quickly than most people had expected,” he says, referring to the bounce back in the U.S. economy after the outbreak of the pandemic. “So that means people have choices.”

Rich Baron, a workplace expert and Executive Coach at Intelligent Leadership Executive Coaching’s office in Kaysville (ILEC) believes this could be a defining time for American workers. Not only can they now feel the freedom to leave for a better-paying job, but they also can pick the kind of culture that will make them stay.

The latter, he says, is far more important.

“Everybody’s paying higher wages,” Baron explains to ABC4.com. Now, the higher paycheck is relatively easy to find. What’s not easy to find is a company that really has a culture of inclusion and culture of engagement, where everybody in the organization is being set up to succeed.”

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One of his observations, especially about a younger workforce, is that those with strong leadership and empathy skills will have the opportunity to rise quickly in an organization. For a generation of tech-savvy, wide-eyed folks who are perhaps early in their careers, learning to be an effective leader will be highly sought after.

“What they’re looking for is the soft skills: accountability, leadership, creativity, problem-solving skills. And when we talk about those skills, they’re actually the hardest skills to come by,” Baron says. “But those are the skills that people are wanting to develop. They want to develop these skills in order to progress not only themselves but help the organization.”

The old days of a dictatorial leadership attitude are dead and gone, Baron states. The idea of a leader who rules his workplace kingdom with an iron fist, cracking down with a tough-minded and rigid approach isn’t realistic or effective nowadays. What really matters now, not only to employees, but to employers as well, is being flexible, encouraging, and understanding.

It was a lesson that Apple founder Steve Jobs learned near the end of his life, concerned about his personal legacy and the legacy he would leave behind at his company. One of the key takeaways that ILEC founder John Mattone left with Jobs was the power of vulnerability.

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It can be a tricky thing for many to master, Baron says.

“You have to get outside your own comfort zone and be able to be vulnerable to learn not only what your strengths and gaps are but how to pick up on this information from the people around you, as well,” he states. “And I’m not talking about being so vulnerable that you lose your confidence – being vulnerable is being open to change.”

That, along with altering one’s mindset from a sense of entitlement to duty, can be key in creating a culture where folks would want to work in the modern era.

To borrow a phrase from one of Apple’s most well-remembered marketing campaigns under Jobs, you have to think differently, Baron says.

“When you talk about thinking different and thinking big, Steve’s philosophy was to get out of your comfort zone and disrupt yourself, change yourself,  and don’t be in that comfort zone, which really is a job killer and it’s a career killer.”

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