The potential loss of employees is weighing heavily on the minds of every business owner right now and with good reason. The impending turnover “tsunami”, as coined by The Society for Human Resource Management, could mean that more than half of employees plan to look for new jobs this year. Half. That’s some of the most staggering news we’ve heard in a long time.
What the heck is going on?
It’s the pandemic – of course – and really for two reasons: burnout and a desire for change.
Certain industries like hospitality, travel, medicine, retail -- just to name a few – have been hit hard by the pandemic. The stress of today and uncertainty about tomorrow have taken a toll on workers. They’re burned out, and some just can’t take it anymore.
For those working in industries not as deeply affected, we’re still seeing situations where employees are itching for change – if for no other reason than the fact that the pandemic has dragged on, they’ve lost their ability to travel and recreate freely, and “something new and exciting” seems all wrapped up in the promise of a new job.
Of course, we’d be remiss not to acknowledge the money. With inflation rising, so are wages. If your competitor is offering more money, and potentially a signing bonus, why wouldn’t employees be tempted to make the switch?
What it all boils down to is this: Employers across all industries are facing the reality that they may soon need to replace a good number of their employees, and they need to act fast to ensure they’re not left empty handed.
This is very new territory, so we certainly don’t have all the solutions. The best we can offer is the few suggestions below that we’ve put into practice and have encouraged our clients to put into practice as well. We’re learning along the way, but here’s what we have so far:
- Acknowledge the change and get really flexible.
Remember when all went remote and shut down just for two weeks? That feels like a hundred years ago now. This pandemic has dragged on so long that the remote work patterns we’ve established have become normal. Even those of us in industries where employees have to be onsite (restaurants, construction, factory work, etc.) made adjustments for employees juggling kids at home learning remotely, caring for older relatives, etc. That flexibility seems to be what employees are valuing most going forward.
To that end, continue to offer employees the ability to work remotely when possible, and continue to honor their family commitments with flex time hours. Particularly since we’re not out of the woods yet with COVID (schools could go remote at any minute it seems), your employees need to know their jobs won’t be in jeopardy if they have to switch gears again.
- Encourage balance.
Since burnout is a major factor contributing to the high rate of turnover, foster work/life balance by encouraging your employees to use their PTO (this is not the year to roll it over!) and truly unplug when they do. Set up your systems and processes at work, cross-training other employees as necessary, so that no one feels like the place will shut down without them there for a few days.
- Create a real future for employees.
Flexibility is one thing, but people still want to feel like they can grow – professionally and personally – within your organization. Are you offering them that opportunity?
Revisit your growth tracks, find opportunities for younger employees to learn from more seasoned supervisors, and allow for financial investment (i.e., ESOP) for all employees. Create an environment where they can visualize their future. To that end, revisit your core values and infuse them into your daily work. When employees see value and meaning in their work, they see their future.
These times of potential turnover don’t have to be scary. Let’s resolve to view them as a time of opportunity – to grow our companies into the kinds of organizations that people really want to be a part of for the long haul.
Like we said, we don’t have all the answers. As business owners, we’re facing the same reality. That’s why we’ve invited a panel of clients and friends to lead a discussion on employee retention at the end of this month. We hope you’ll join us (see registration link below). While we hoped we’d be able to do it in person, COVID numbers are rising rapidly in our area. For the safety of our community, we’ll be conducting it virtually. As we say, put on your comfy pants, and join us! Guests from every corner of the globe are welcome!