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Preventing the Turnover Tsunami: 4 Steps to Take Today

Updated: Jul 18, 2022

As I mentioned in my last video blog Turnover Tsunami, employers need to prepare for a turnover tsunami among their employees. Surveys and news headlines, which are coming out with more frequency, are all saying the same thing. Now that the pandemic seems to be waning, employees are looking for a change.

Over the past 15 months, most people focused on keeping themselves and their families safe and surviving the layoffs and downsizing happening in many companies and industries. This type of survival mode can take a toll, emotionally and physically. And just like the impact on those that survived the layoffs of the 2007-2008 recession, employees can only work under the added stress of an additional workload and fear of the unknown for so long before they break.

Up to 25% of employees now say something has to give. Whether it is dissatisfaction with their boss, an unstainable workload, or a feeling of being slighted on compensation, employees have begun to look for jobs outside their current employer. Add on top of that increasing pay for job offers and more flexible work schedules, it has become a job seekers’ market.

What can employers do to attempt to prevent this tsunami from swamping their organizations? There are four steps to take right now to understand the current risk and prevent it from becoming disastrous.

1. Understand Where You Are Now

Before you begin the journey, you need to know where you are starting from. The steps you take and plan for your route are based on your current position. Too often I hear of employers developing a plan and changing their benefits or compensation without any input from employees.

When was the last time you conducted an employee survey? Regular feedback and conversations with your team are critical. Whether it is an anonymous survey or one on one conversations between a manager and their staff, we need to know where everyone stands. When looking for feedback on general topics like benefits, compensation and the work environment in general, surveys can provide a quick understanding of the employees’ current thinking. However, conversations about job satisfaction, the work they do, and their personal investment in their career are best had individually. Of course, the relationship between the employee and the manager must already be established to make any conversation meaningful.

2. Identify Critical Positions and Your Backup Plan

I look at this step as triaging your potential risk. If you have five customer service representatives and one leaves, it will be more work on the other four until you have a replacement, but it is manageable. However, if your director of sales, who brings in 25% of your revenue, is fed up with her boss and decides to jump ship, what is your plan so you don’t take on too much water and sink. Worse yet, what if that director of sales takes three others with her.

These days, all positions in an organization are important. I understand that. However, company leadership needs to prioritize succession planning and ensure their most at-risk positions are protected from this tsunami. Whether it is an emphasis on the people in those roles, or a bench of high potential candidates that could step up in the event someone leaves, the discussions should happen sooner rather than later. Deciding how to survive a tsunami can’t start when the water is coming at you. Prepare the plan. Evaluate the plan. Update the plan. This cycle should never end.

3. Evaluate Compensation & Benefits

Now it’s time to compare how you stack up against other employers in your area and in your industry. The job seekers’ market is forcing all employers to reevaluate their compensation and benefits offerings. Since the pandemic, work from home, or work from anywhere, have become part of the mainstream conversation regarding benefits.

Recent polls indicate between 40-50% of employees who currently have WFH as an option will leave their company if it is not a continued alternative. What does this mean – if you currently offer WFH on a part- or full-time basis, you should think twice about eliminating it without at least knowing the impact of that decision.

It is important to note that evaluating compensation doesn’t always mean offering more money. Many of these same studies also show that employees are sometimes willing to take less money for the continued opportunity to work from home and a better work/life balance. The important thing to know is how you stack up against your competitors and what your employees think about their total compensation and benefits package from you. Sometimes you just need to let them know what’s available to them.

4. Open a Dialogue with Your Employees – and Keep It Open

Finally, communicate, communicate, communicate. And don’t forget that this is a two-way street. Have conversations with employees. Provide a forum for their input and feedback. And most importantly, recognize their contributions to the conversation. By making an individual employee, and collectively the entire team, feel like their input is valued, welcomed and needed, they will be more vested in the success of the organization. It’s not only about communicating what your next steps are and the plan as you continue to recover from the pandemic, but it’s about understanding there is a personal relationship employees have with their employers. They can’t be treated like another cog in the machine, but rather they need to understand how they are critical to its success.

The turnover tsunami is coming but that doesn’t mean it is going to hit each company the same way. Just like some cities and countries have fortified their coastlines to prepare for the potential of a tsunami, if it happens, the damage will be much less severe than areas that have done no preparation and are just hoping it doesn’t hit them.

As company leaders, we need to do our part to prevent catastrophic damage. Remember, a tsunami doesn’t discriminate. If it comes to an unprepared area, the damage impacts everyone. Don’t let the turnover tsunami wreak havoc on your company and employees. Plan, prepare and protect.

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