Is Beyonce's "Break My Soul" the Theme Song of the Great Resignation?
The song has a sharp and necessary message for companies and workers, but that message might not be what everyone thinks it is.
I'm sure by now you've heard — and perhaps even danced to — Beyoncé's "Break My Soul." It's a whole vibe, and it's been quickly adopted as a rallying cry for a new generation of workers seeking to control their own destinies, claim their freedom and mic drop their way out of the grind.
While I, too, am a huge fan of Queen Bey, I can't help but think this is a dangerous interpretation of the song. As someone who dipped out of the 9 to 5 way before the Great Resignation became a thing, I can personally attest to how difficult quitting the grind and "just dancing" truly can be. I actually don't think this song should be the theme song of the Great Resignation, but rather something even better: the theme song of changing times for corporate culture — the catalyst of a new and improved culture, if you will.
"Break Your Soul" should be heard as a wakeup call directed at companies to embrace a stronger and better workplace — to care about creating a space for a person to thrive, not just for an employee to be productive. It is time to build a new foundation, to create an employee experience that motivates and fuels success. I'm sure Beyoncé would agree.
On that new vibration
As someone once considered "top talent," who basically combusted then middle-fingered her way right out of corporate America nearly five years ago, I can identify with what many employees are feeling today. All I wanted was to feel valued, because my soul, too, was broken. Even more so, I wanted to be inspired and motivated.
"Motivation / I'm lookin' for a new foundation, yeah / And I'm on that new vibration / I'm buildin' my own foundation."
I feel these lyrics in my veins, and if they still resonate with me after so long, I can't imagine the havoc these other lyrics of hers is going to cause companies: "And I just quit my job, I'm gonna find new drive, Damn, they work me so damn hard." Dramatic? Maybe, but with a recession on the horizon, employee experience is actually more important than ever — and Beyoncé's lyrics are what corporate America needs to hear.
Things companies should be thinking about
Employee experience should be at the top of the budget consideration moving into 2023. As Beyoncé chants "You won't break my soul," companies should be thinking about how to incorporate their mission and values, as well as their employee's values, throughout the whole experience from talent acquisition through day-to-day happenings and professional development opportunities.
Retaining top talent: The upper echelon of workers will leave if they don't feel valued, if what they are doing doesn't align with their values, or if they are lacking inspiration and motivation. These folks are always in demand and always have options. Perhaps those options are fewer during hard times, but if their soul is broken, make no mistake, they will leave. I did.
Motivating current talent: There will be masses of employees sitting at their desks with their headphones blasting these lyrics on repeat like an angsty teen in 2007 listening to Avril Lavigne post-breakup — just stewing. The problem is that the majority of these folks won't be able to quit, leading to a cluster of unmotivated, unsatisfied, unhappy employees. Unhappy employees are the demise of customer services, innovation and productivity.
Creating environments and experiences where workers feel valued by their employers will be an important factor in top talent retention and motivating current talent. "The Financial Impact of a Positive Employee Experience" report shows up to 3x higher return on assets and twice the return on sales when employee experience is excellent.
Companies like Twitter, which is already canceling its employee summit, are taking a step in the wrong direction. Shared experiences are proven to increase self-esteem and decrease depression, anxiety and isolation — something the past two years has bolstered and something a recession will only fuel.
So, while Beyoncé may now have a chokehold on the future of work — not surprising for 2022, honestly — it's up to companies to remember that even with an impending recession, they aren't irreplaceable.
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