Hope: The Secret to Worker Retention

Published by Kathleen Houlihan on

According to US News & World Report, people feel sad and hopeless when they read the news.  This is having a huge impact on communities across the nation. When we feel depressed, we are not motivated to work. The consequences for businesses are less workers seeking employment, less workers showing up on time, if they show up at all. The blaugh feeling, that we are all feeling from reading the news, means businesses are forced to cut hours of operation and reduce production making it impossible to get things back to normal. We don’t have the conveniences that we once shared because people lost hope that things will get any better and they even believe things are getting worse. Perception is reality and this hopeless feeling must change if we ever want to feel accomplished, happy, and productive again.

Companies are offering hiring bonuses and better salaries, but these options do little to change the employee sentiment about having to go to work or their overall feelings of hopelessness. You can have all the money in the world, but if you are not happy,  it makes it difficult to enjoy the benefits that financial security provides.

Today’s workers prefer work-from-home jobs, not realizing this level of isolation is leading to more feelings of depression and hopelessness. According to the American Psychological Association, a study conducted by Cigna in 2018, found that 40% of participants sometimes or always felt isolated. Note this study was conducted before the pandemic. The article posits that isolation leads to poorer health, early death, and a reduced quality-of-life. These challenges impact the individual but, they also negatively impact our families and communities. The sentiment of being sad, from the news that we read, is passed on to the next person forcing everyone into feeling angry and scared, lacking the confidence we once had to fix the situation.

Schools used to be seen as a place for connection, discovery, and growth but schools are now being attacked in the media, from all sides, because of opposing views, costs, and lack of trust. These feelings of hate and fear are causing communities to turn on each other making them more violent and less productive. Schools used to give a sense of belonging, offering a place where it was safe to develop and learn, but now everything is under a microscope. We are all looking for ways to control the schools because we feel so out of control in our personal lives. The worst part is that the children are the ones who are impacted the most. Children don’t know who to trust or who to believe, which is negatively impacting their psychological development.  Society cannot flourish when there is fear and violence.  Remember the Dark Ages?  Children are forced to do active shooter drills and they are told the police are bad and their teachers are bad. These generalizations don’t reflect most of the people performing in these professions in my community. I bet most of the professional teachers and police officers in your community are good people, too.

Business leaders have an opportunity to step in and support their community and their employees by offering benefits and experiences that improve their overall quality-of-life. This means looking beyond the salary and using resources and influence to make communities a better place to work, learn, and live. Empowering employees to become the best versions of themselves will make them better contributors to your community and, consequently, better contributors to the bottom line. The process begins with a mindset shift and a focus on solving the things that can be fixed and giving people hope.

Instead of blaming the government, the schools, the workers, or the general state of the world. Focus on what can be done and look for ways to work with others interested in supporting positive endeavors to make communities thrive. No one is perfect and it is time we start to look past what we read, our flaws, and our differences and focus what we have in common; an interest in raising and working with productive collaborative citizens who are living without fear or hate. We can bring about positive change if we just learn trust and respect people again.

This minor shift in mindset will change the culture of your organization and your community. Leaders manage challenges and objections everyday and if they lead by example; by showing kindness, humility, and support, the climate will change. Employees will respect their employers and start to trust that things can get better. They will feel a sense of accomplishment and purpose about what they are doing.  Employees will be compelled to support their employer because  they will see that their employer wants them to succeed. The idea that tomorrow could be better than today will help them get out of the house and show up to work—show up for life.

Follow the lines from Beauty and the Beast:

Tale as old as time
True as it can be
Barely even friends
Then somebody bends
Unexpectedly

Just a little change
Small to say the least
Both a little scared
Neither one prepared…

By Celine Dion, Peabo Bryson

Our nation will always be the Beast; rich, powerful, and in some ways ugly, but we will not win if we don’t support each other, especially during our darkest days. Every interaction gives us the opportunity to return life to normal and provide hope for what is yet to come.

If you would like to discuss community focused talent development strategies that offer hope and inspiration, contact Dream2Career.

About the Author:

Kathleen Houlihan, is the CEO of Dream2Career and writes about creating synergies between workforce and education. Houlihan taught full-time at the university level for over 6 years and continues to teach as an adjunct while consulting for businesses and educational providers. She serves on several workforce development groups including the T3 Innovation Network and Midwest Credential Transparency Alliance and has a Ph.D. in Organizational Management, an MBA, and B.A. in Psychology.

Dream2Career (D2C) is a women-owned agency that reimagines talent acquisition and optimizes the system for candidates and employers. D2C provides human-centric solutions that filter-in candidates who exceed expectations in the workplace.


Kathleen Houlihan

Kathleen Houlihan is a leader in workforce innovation and she is the Founder of an agency that reimagines talent acquisition and optimizes the system for candidates and employers. Her company, Dream2Career, provides human-centric ROI solutions that filter-in candidates who exceed expectations in the workplace.

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