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Beware of the Great Distractions

Leaders are currently bombarded with an endless barrage of labels to describe the current challenges continuing to plague the workplace. Great Resignation, Quiet Quitting, Great Reshuffle, Boomeranging, Act Your Wage, Psychological Safety, Well-Being, Empathy, are all words swirling in their minds of managers as they wake up at night and ponder major questions like, “Do I bring everyone back into the office or bring only some people back into the office or bring everyone back into the office some of the time or maybe I bring some of the people back to the office all of the time but only some of the people some of the time, or do I keep the hybrid option and cancel the remote option or remotely keep or cancel the hybrid option? You get the picture.

And let’s add some more angst as the tug of war power balance between employees and employers continues to play out in light of economic factors, layoff uncertainties, supply chain issues, and ‘nobody wants to work anymore’ attitudes that fuels the flurry all the more.

Time to move on. First, let’s call that last paragraph for what it was—the Great Distractions. Second, let’s take a collective breath and get back to a couple of unpretentious basics:

  1. Millions of the type of employees you want to hire are still out there and yes, they actually do want to work hard, grow, and develop.

  2. Embrace the fact that people will always be human beings first and employees (anything else for that matter) second! That was, “people first, employees second.”

Human beings come with a pre-wired set of basic needs. Any action or behavior can be traced back to the desire to fulfill one or more of those needs, be it safety (physical and psychological), love, belonging, self-esteem, and fulfillment as in sense of purpose. It is no coincidence that the research validates the rally cries of employees today as, “Treat me like a human being.” “I want a sense of belonging and purpose.” and “Respect me as a person.”

If you want to attract and retain the best people, focus not on the distractions and all the current lingo, but on your people as the unique individuals they are. The most successful way to improve your employee engagement scores is to ignore the distractions and focus on connecting with your employees as people and empowering them, one unique human being at a time. You can’t solve an individual employee issue with an organizational solution. Yet we keep spending millions of dollars trying. Sometimes it’s the simplest of solutions that can solve the seemingly most complex problems. People first, employees second.

Dr. Merrylue Martin is President and CEO of the Job Joy Group and best-selling author of the Big Quit Survival Guide. Follow Merrylue on LinkedIn or visit


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