Leading through the Great Resignation
We have all heard of the “Great Resignation” but exactly what is going on and what can we as managers, business owners and leaders do to keep our people from leaving to go elsewhere?
Before we get into why are people leaving, let’s look at the numbers. According to U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the United States saw a record 4.53 million workers quit their jobs in March 2022, beating the previous record of 4.51 million in November 2021. So this is not a one time event but it appears that people are quitting and changing jobs is not slowing down. This is not only happening in the US but a similar trend is occurring in Europe and other parts of the world.
Why is this happening?
According to a recent survey from McKinsey & Company, 41% of all respondents of those that have quit their primary job between April 2021 and April 2022, left because of “lack of career development and advancement”. A close second is “inadequate total compensation”. Simply put, people are leaving because they are looking for better opportunities for advancement and more money.
Another recent survey of over 52,000 workers across 44 countries conducted by the accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) shows that one in five respondents said they are likely to change employers in the next 12 months, with the majority of those seeking to switch jobs for a better salary.
This means that at least 20% of your workforce has their sights elsewhere. People are not looking for more catered office lunches or work office allowances or lack of team building events. They are looking for opportunities to grow their careers and take care of themselves and/or their families in the face of soaring inflation.
What is the true cost of losing an employee?
Forget the cost to recruit and hire a replacement for the individual or the lost productivity as you train someone else to take over the role. The true cost is even greater than money and lost time is the impact on team morale and overall engagement.
I can’t count the number of times where I heard about a current employee reaching out to a recently left employee to see if there is an opportunity for them at the former employee’s new company. Although it is rare to lose more than one person to the same company, it plants a seed into the minds of every person that maybe there are better opportunities out there for them. This is the true cost of letting your top performers walk out the door. It communicates to everyone else that is left behind that maybe they should just check out what the job market has to offer them. In this competitive job market environment where qualified candidates are hard to come by, recruiters land in people’s inboxes almost everyday.
When was the last time you talked about career goals with your team?
So you may be asking yourself, what can I do about this? Is there anything you can do as a leader to reduce the risk of your team from being tempted about the shiny promises of a headhunter?
1. Customise job roles and areas of responsibility
When was the last time you reviewed the job descriptions and job roles for each member of your team? Chances are only when they were first hired or during the interview process. Reviewing a person’s job role and area of responsibility should be a quarterly process. Work with each individual on your team to adjust areas of responsibility based on current projects or big wins the person has made recently. If a person has stepped up and taken lead of an area or projects, reward them with a formal change to their job description.
2. Focus on opportunities for growth by developing career goals
As part of the job role and area of responsibility building, let the person write down some practical career goals for themselves. Give the team member flexibility to identify areas of their job that they would like to level up in. Also give them space to dream about opportunities for the next promotion or the next level of their career and list out specific action items to work on in the upcoming quarter or year.
I have found that most companies are great at setting business goals through KPIs or OKRs but fail to include professional and career development goals alongside individual performance goals. People crave to understand how their individual goals can impact their opportunity to meet their career goals.
3. Check in regularly
This is not a set it and forget about it process. Just as business objectives and goals need constant review and micro adjustments, so does professional development. Check in with each person through 1:1s and ask them how progress is going towards meeting their professional development goals. Look for opportunities to provide additional training, courses, or resources. Let them ask you questions and listen as they process out loud. I have found that people are not looking for the perfect answer but are looking for someone who cares. Be someone who cares. who sees beyond who they are but focusing on what they can become.
Employee turnover is part of leadership. It is unrealistic to think you can keep 100% of your team 100% of the time but that doesn’t mean you should give up on investing in your team. As a leader, your team wants to feel valuable and that the work that they are doing is building something inside them that is destined for more. Your job is to keep them pointed in the upward direction.