Unless you’ve been underground for the past few months you’ve probably noticed that businesses are feeling more optimistic about the economy lately. This is especially true in the Rocky Mountain Region. There is a significant uptick in hiring happening in just the last few weeks. This activity is also being felt by your employees – and you need to be paying attention.

In following industry trends, I’ve noted trusted sources quoting employee unrest ranging from between 30% and 80% of the working population.  Why is this important?  Because it means that a large portion of your employees are tired, frustrated and keeping their eyes open for new opportunities.  Let’s examine this a bit:

  1. What would happen to your business momentum if 50% of your workforce left in the next 6 months?
  2. Are you equipped to handle this turnover? 
  3. Do you have adequate recruiting staff and a candidate pipeline to fill the voids?
  4. Is there enough knowledge capital at the staff level to handle diminished capacity?
  5. What would happen if your VP of Sales left tomorrow? Would the sales team follow them? Where is the team’s loyalty?
  6. Assuming a conservative 30% turnover, do you think (honestly) that it will be the bottom 30%?

The good news for business is that business momentum is building, the bad news is that we’ve cut benefits, overworked our best people and have been forced to make decisions that will have far reaching consequences.

I’ve been in the Talent Acquisition (recruiting) business for over twenty years and this is what I know.  Happy employees cannot be tempted away. However tired, unappreciated and poorly led employees are easy pickin’!

So what are you supposed to do? Show some love toward your keepers.  There is a bunch of talk about employee engagement right now and I think that’s just terrific.  However, turning the dial too far will result in 1. Distrust and 2. Entitlement. Therefore, I suggest taking a more subtle approach.  Identify the individuals in your organization who are the top performers – the folks you simply cannot (or don’t) want to do without.  Rally your executive team to identify these people at every level and launch a pre-emptive campaign to minimize the potential of losing them.  Here are some ideas – I’m sure you can come up with more:

  1. Training and development – these programs went away 5 years ago – it’s time to bring them back.  Help your top guns build their marketability, they’ll remember it.
  2. Reward great performance with balance – a day off, a dinner out, sports tickets – be creative and make the reward a personal experience.
  3. Get your CEO involved – make sure your top executive knows who your keepers are and makes a concentrated effort to notice them, talk with them and get to know them on a personal level.
  4. Challenge them with a cool project.  That doesn’t mean pile more work on them, rather move stuff around within your team to give some of the really meaty work to your keepers.  They will love the challenge and appreciate your confidence in them. This builds loyalty.
  5. If you have some cash use it!  I’m not a fan of throwing money at a problem; employees rarely leave because of salary.  But if you had to hold back increases,
    or were forced to cut in recent years, make it right just as soon as you can.

On the other side of the coin is good business – risk management.  You are going to lose people this year – good ones.  Make sure that you have cross training and documentation processes in place. 

  1. Alleviate single points of failure (only one person knows this, does this or has this relationship). 
  2. Review your information backup policies to make sure that you have copies of all work material.  Then when some of it walks with an employee (and it will) at least you have it too. 
  3. Make sure that all customers are well known at multiple levels of your organization.  You want your customer loyalty with your company, not your employee. 
  4. Invest in proper documentation.  Just before the vacation season begins is a great time to have everyone update (or create) documentation so that business can keep flowing while employees are out – there’s your justification.

Turnover is a fact of life – no one stays with a single company their entire career.  This year however, is beginning to display signs of a fairly significant rotation and if you are unprepared, the results could slow your progress or potentially damage your business in the mid-term.

Interested in how to minimize your churn, or build your future candidate pipeline? Give me a call today!

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