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4 Ways to Design a Work Culture That Will Beat the Great Resignation Retaining and attracting employees is going to be a top priority for businesses going forward.

By Ross Buhrdorf Edited by Amanda Breen

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The pandemic caused people to reevaluate what's meaningful to them, and for many, that meant leaving their corporate jobs and turning their passions into full-time careers. And in 2022, we'll see even more people leave in droves to become business owners, freelancers and contractors, in the hopes of opening the door to more money, more freedom and more time. It's reminiscent of historical periods where darkness preceded light, like how the plague of the Middle Ages paved the way for the Italian Renaissance, or how the 16th and 17th centuries saw the Scientific Revolution change the way we saw the world.

This phenomenon — what we like to call the Great Reimagining — is more than a trend: It's an exciting new way of life for millions of Americans, and it's created a hot talent market with fierce competition. Retaining and attracting employees is going to be a top priority for businesses going forward and will certainly be the biggest challenge that small-business owners face during the coming months.

But small-business owners should look at the increased talent pool as an opportunity to take their business to the next level. As more and more people leave their boring corporate jobs, they will seek to either start their own business or look for work at places that help them feel more fulfilled — small businesses can provide that.

Related: Here's What's Behind The Great Resignation, and How Employers Can Be Prepared

Here are four ways business owners can design attractive work cultures that eschew the pitfalls of the traditional corporate world that inspired workers to leave in the first place.

1. Celebrate balance and attract the best

Since the onset of the pandemic, people have started working more, bucking initial concerns about the remote-work model. The time that people previously spent driving to the office, taking a lunch break or just chatting with colleagues has now been spent working. That shift initially seemed great from a productivity standpoint, but it's unsustainable: Burnout is a real threat to employee retention. People can only work to the brink of exhaustion for so long before they start to consider switching jobs. And in today's market, there's no shortage of new opportunities — they will get scooped up fast.

The solution? Intentionally and openly create a culture of compassion with clear and acknowledged boundaries between the professional and personal realms for everyone — starting at the top with you. One way to do this is to clearly communicate to everyone when your day ends. Once that time comes, everyone on your staff will know that you won't answer work calls, read emails or even think about work again until the next day.

Creating a company ethos sends a clear message to current and prospective employees about what you value in your own life and promotes boundaries that are ultimately beneficial for all employees. Ultimately, staff that are happy will be more motivated to perform better.

Related: How to Set Boundaries to Build Thriving Relationships

2. Make an impact by sharing success

Take the adage "treat people the way you want to be treated" a step further in your business by creating a culture that's not all about having the highest margins or the lowest-paid employees. Make it a goal to determine how to pay your employees the most — not the least. Make them feel like they have a meaningful stake in the company and learn to share the wealth and success with the people that make a difference every day.

This type of tangible generosity will not only improve their lives — especially at a time when so many people are struggling — but also foster loyalty and enhance your reputation in the marketplace.

3. Streamline your operations

Cash flow and time are the two most important currencies at an entrepreneur's disposal. In 2022, people are going to look for more ways to maximize the time they spend working to be more efficient and less consumed with tedious tasks. Without being burdened by outdated systems, employees have the freedom to focus on bigger and more strategic goals, which can make for a much more fulfilling work experience.

That's why it should be a priority to have the best tools available to your company. Things like embedded fintech offerings — featuring tools for invoicing, accepting credit card payments and managing income — are critical to success and can eliminate the busy back-office work so employees can focus on what matters most.

Related: Streamline Your Data Management, Web Services, Cloud, and More

4. Be transparent in everything you do

Transparency should be the common thread throughout everything you do, especially when it comes to creating an attractive work culture. Being accountable for your business operations and making employees part of the conversation can go a long way in building trust and loyalty.

We make the best decisions when we're informed and aligned. Treat your team like they're your business partners: Share data, communicate regularly and often, deliver bad news honestly, be prepared to answer tough questions and promote openness from the top — invite questions and give everyone an opportunity to have his or her voice heard.

Ross Buhrdorf

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

CEO of ZenBusiness, Inc.

Ross Buhrdorf is the founder and CEO of ZenBusiness PBC. He has over 30 years of experience as an entrepreneur, technology leader, C-level executive, angel investor and board member, and he's helped transform the way consumers interact with technology.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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