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  • Writer's pictureThe HR Guy

Head's Up: How to Survive the Great Resignation

Video Script: Surviving The Great Resignation

My name is Russell Lookadoo, President and Chief Strategist for HRchitecture. I am the HR Guy for small business. My firm exists to leverage my expertise and experience in Human Resources so that the small business owner can achieve their dreams through effective use of their team.

The Great Resignation is upon us. We experienced the Great Recession in 2009 and now we are experiencing the Great Revival of our economy post pandemic. I have been fortunate to work in the human resources space for nearly 40 years and this may be the tightest labor market I have ever personally observed.

Resignations are in an all-time high. The Bureau of Labor statistics reported a record high 9.3 resignations in April of 2021.

Nationally, the unemployment rate which peaked last April at 14.8% is now down to 5.8%, compared to only 3.5% before the pandemic. Those numbers are going steadily down.

There is a tremendous surge in demand for employees as businesses reopen along coupled with a significant lack of supply of available employees who are pondering going back to their pre-pandemic work life.

Fast Company magazine recently reported that 59% of middle-income workers, making $50,000 to $75,000, are actively looking for a new job. The article noted that 44% of those employees have already made plans to switch jobs.

Supply of employees down for multiple reasons:

1. Fear: People remain afraid to be exposed to COVID. Your safety plan and protocols that follow public health recommendations must be strongly communicated.

2. Uncertainty: The employees share the same angst leaders feel regarding the stability of the economy. They are uncertain if the job I am going back to going to be stable or is there going to be another shutdown.

3. Angst: Every Sunday night people question if they really wanted to face work Monday morning. This Monday Angst is multiplied as we are coming out of 15 months or remote work. Couple this with inflexible demands on returning to the workplace, this angst become more palatable.

4. Work Life Balance: Sitting in relative isolation, many employees adapted to a work at home life and found it easier to achieve a balanced life. This genie is out of the bottle.

5. Supplemental unemployment benefits: This may be a factor for low skill, entry level jobs, but those programs are expiring.

I advise my clients that the dichotomy that parses the turnover data as voluntary or involuntary is false. Unless the employee dies all turnover is controllable. All other reasons can be overcome if the total employee value proposition is favorable to the alternatives.

How does leadership deal with the Great Resignation?

Here are five strategic P's:

1. Purpose: Employees, particularly in this information age, want to identify with why their company exists. To belong, they want to see what good the work they do for the customer and society. Leaders need to reinforce their “why” (vision) and “how” (values). More than posting these statements on the wall bring the words to life. Add pictures of your customers, team building service projects, and site visits if you are in the construction architecture or engineering world. Consider having a customer come speak to your employees about what the company has done that improved their lives.

2. People: Ensure you have a healthy work environment that is collaborative, cooperative and kind. Strong, supportive communication is key. Leaders must demonstrate strong emotional intelligence so that the employees working for them feel like they are valued and listened to. Emotional intelligence can be assessed, coached, and enhanced. People do not quit a job for money they quit their bosses. Do not tolerate any workplace hostility or bullying.

3. Place: This is a new frontier for the post pandemic world. 68% of workers want flexibility in where they work. However, 70% of leaders want butts in seats in the workplace. Outdated leadership beliefs regarding the work location, and even attendance need to be challenged. The focus needs to shift to what the employee contributes not where they perform the work.

Of course, hands on jobs in as hospitality, construction, retail, and some functions such as Receptionists are inflexible. The questions you need to ask yourself is why require the traditional work location and how can we make this alternative flexible work environment work for the company and the employee.

4. Praise: Leadership should pro-actively and genuinely praise employees. Make the praise and recognition meaningful, and mindful, and specific. Different employees are motivated by different things but just about every person is motivated when they feel appreciated.

5. Pay: Last but not least is pay well. People do not quit for money; people quit their job and their boss and get more money when they change jobs. Business needs to pay at least competitively so there is not an unsatisfactory feeling that can occur when they discover they are paid below what the job are worth. You see a lot of commentary in the press about people who do not come back to work because of the supplemental employee benefits. Studies have shown that if pay less than $34,000 or less then there is some temptation when the employee is just as well-off drawing unemployment. You do not want that type of work ethic anyway. Plus, the supplemental benefits are expiring.

There is no greater challenge facing business leaders today as they try to return to pre pandemic levels of service quality, quantity, and timeliness. Keeping your good employees is a lot easier then replacing them. Employing other people is a sign of success. Keeping them will make sure that success happens.

As the HR Guy, I am available and ready to work with you to navigate and strategize about employee retention so you can achieve your dreams for you and your business.

Make an appointment with me today.

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