December 2, 2021

A new poll by Gallup found that 52% of people who left their job during the pandemic said their employer could have done something to make them stay.

There is no better time than right now, this instant, for you to tell your bosses and co-workers how thankful you are for what they do. Now, more than any time I can recall, journalists need to hear that.

The pandemic showed us new ways to work and reorganized our priorities. A recent Gallup analysis showed that nearly half of U.S. workers (48%) are actively job searching or watching for opportunities. Employers have been crying about how many people are leaving their jobs. News executives tell me high turnover is their No. 1 worry right now.

Here is my first advice: Tell the people that you want to stick around that you want them to stick around.

Gallup found:

One of the best ways to outmaneuver turnover is to have frequent, meaningful conversations with employees. Now more than ever, leaders need to enable supportive conversations with employees about their wellbeing, job expectations, development goals and more — factors that influence employees’ willingness to stay.

Stay conversations are one-on-one conversations designed to learn more about the employee, including their passions and career goals, what they value in life, and what they need to be more successful in their role. Effective stay conversations are two-way exchanges that get to the heart of the individual’s needs, motivations and engagement drivers.

How many journalists who left their job in the last year needed the flexibility to manage children’s schooling, care for parents and deal with COVID-19 concerns but had a boss who was clueless about these pressures?

I put out a call to journalist friends of mine to get their experiences. One photojournalist in a middle market said after more than 40 years on the job, he has not ever been told directly that the TV station wants him to stick around. He said, “Once a year or so the chief photographer indirectly suggests in a spur of the moment opportunity that he’s glad I’m still around.” He added, “It means I’m taken for granted and still have some use to them until they decide I’m no longer cost-effective to keep around.”

You may have picked up on the hints that these are not one-and-done conversations. Stay conversations should be nonstop. When newsrooms lose employees and didn’t know the person was looking, it tells me that the boss didn’t effectively communicate how valuable the employee is and didn’t provide a safe and open channel for the employee to talk about the future.

Gallup’s newest research also shows a third of managers are suffering burnout. The study found that managers are more burned out than the people they manage, and the gap is continuing to grow.

Gallup said:

  • Stress and anxiety levels remained high for managers — but declined for individual contributors and leaders — in 2021.
  • Diagnosed depression increased for managers in 2021 but was relatively unchanged for individual contributors and project managers and declined for leaders.
  • Only one in four managers in 2021 strongly agree that they are able to maintain a healthy balance between work and personal commitments.

This article originally appeared in Covering COVID-19, a daily Poynter briefing of story ideas about the coronavirus and other timely topics for journalists. Sign up here to have it delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.

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Al Tompkins is one of America's most requested broadcast journalism and multimedia teachers and coaches. After nearly 30 years working as a reporter, photojournalist, producer,…
Al Tompkins

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