As Beyonce recently pointed out, so many workplaces are breaking the soul of employees and pushing them to explore other options. In fact, people are quitting their jobs more than ever, with a record 4.53 million workers putting in their notice in March 2022, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. The mass exodus was even given a name: the “Great Resignation.” But, what these companies don’t understand is that there is a way that they can keep employees (and, as a result, clientele) happy. And it boils down to one key factor: focusing on “Return on Energy.”
This theory was developed by event strategist, workplace “fixer,” and CEO and Founder of RDC Robyn Duda. She saw how many organizations created wellness initiatives to mask the real problem. The workforce at large is overworked, underequipped, and rarely compensated fairly. These are all massive stressors. Unfortunately, you can have all the wellness initiatives and so-called health perks, but it doesn’t make up for workers feeling undervalued.
Duda’s number one piece of advice? We should be looking at the “Return on Energy.” What does that mean exactly? Well, think about the time spent in meetings, the number of emails, drafts of presentations, and the toll it takes on an employee. But also (and likely more important) the number of moments that elicit epiphanies, connections deepened and even innovations uncovered—the more motivating moments. There is a diminishing return when the toll outweighs the motivation. That is where we need to be looking versus an EOY result.
“Return on energy is the idea that energy spent has value,” said Duda. “Companies should measure this to understand the toll an output has on their human capital. People do not have an infinite amount of energy to expend, meaning there must be a value placed on their energy relative to the thing they are using it on.
For example, we should look at the number of emails, time spent in meetings, drafts, v1s v2s, and the psychological toll something takes on an employee. And, we should compare that to the number of innovations created, epiphanies had, connections made, etc.
What does a return on energy look like in action? “The first step should be showing your employees you value them,” said Duda. “It is a way of exercising personalization in the workplace. It’s an indicator of the potential burnout of top talent, as well as overall culture and workplace improvements. Mindsets and emotions are real in the workplace and a variable to growth for every employer.”
She added, “While work is a transaction—output for money—it’s affected by many outside variables. So having a pulse on key metrics like hours spent in meetings and number of emails in a day versus how someone is feeling (their emotion) could help employers understand where potential vulnerabilities lie in the overall employee experience.”
Duda’s energy hypothesis comes from her award-winning event strategist and experience designer work. She’s created event strategies for some of the most recognized brands in the world, including Coca-Cola, Spotify, Visa, and IBM. As a result, she has become known for thinking differently and creating bold change. And the goal at the end of the day is to harness growth for her clients.
It’s this experiential touchpoint Duda found throughout her events career that she believes can make a difference in every workplace.
“I’ve been on the strategy side of events for many years, exploring the intersection of design thinking and experience psychology,” said Duda. “Understanding more about the humans we design for, their motivations, their mindsets, and their emotions has opened my eyes to the impact of an experience.”