These past two years have been unlike any other. Many organizations closed their offices in 2020 and reopened them only to close them again, while others never reopened at all. At the same time, many teams, roles, and overall business goals have changed, throwing a wrench in what was previously the norm.

The massive changes that the pandemic has had in our day-to-day lives have brought many workplace challenges. Many industries—especially hospitality— face a trend often referred to as “The Great Resignation,” where workers are quitting their jobs at increasing rates. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that a record-breaking amount of 4.3 million Americans left their jobs in August of 2021.

Overall, this phenomenon has not affected the cannabis industry primarily. Our sector saw a 32 percent growth in employment with over 77,000 jobs added. That growth could stem from various reasons: people are excited about this nascent industry and the opportunities it can bring; more states and markets have legalized and created new businesses and roles; the innovative and fun culture many cannabis companies boast; the list goes on.

While these qualities may attract someone to the industry, how do you create a business environment and employee experience that keeps them as excited about their career and your company as when they accepted the job? By prioritizing employee engagement.

What keeps workers engaged?

As organizations look to curb resignations and hold onto their talent, examining engagement is imperative. Employee engagement is not about salary or success but the employee’s commitment to their daily work and your company’s mission and values. Without that drive, employees will lose interest in the day-to-day, become disengaged, and likely begin to consider leaving your organization.

Take a look at your team—o they feel a sense of worth?

Employee engagement looks and feels different in every single workplace. But the secret power of employee engagement is that it is an essential predictor of company performance. Moreover, it is a predictor of performance even during harsh economic conditions. And that’s why leaders should pay attention.

The question, of course, is “how?”

When I work with my direct reports and with aspiring leaders, I always encourage a future-forward mindset. And a future-forward philosophy means that we must lead with our head, heart, and hands:

  • Head: Think about what you know. As a leader, you’re exposed to information, knowledge, and training that has helped you succeed. Just as others have invested in you to help you acquire this knowledge and capability, so too must you invest in others. Spend time with people and help cultivate their talents and expertise, understand their ambitions and goals, and challenge them intellectually to achieve them.
  • Heart: How are you building meaning in your life and leadership, and how does this flow into the professional lives of those around you? Think also of the people in your teams. What do they do? How do they manifest their passions in their personal and professional lives? Are they connected – and if not, why not?
  • Hands: Think about what you can do. As a leader, there is much that you can – and much that you cannot act upon. But there will be opportunities and challenges, tasks and projects that you can direct towards your teams. They may be work-related. They may be projects that allow your team members to develop their own leadership abilities. Find them. Make things happen for the next generation of leaders.

Employee engagement is fundamental to high performance and business growth, and your performance as a leader can substantially impact it. Take a future-forward mindset, and work to improve employee engagement using your head, heart, and hands, and you’ll be surprised how quickly you impact growth.

But employee engagement doesn’t just result in happier, better, more productive employees.

It can dramatically improve customer loyalty – because the best way to obtain loyal customers is to have dedicated employees.

And that is a future we can all aspire to.

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