4 tips to help survive the Turnover Tsunami

Losing a good employee means suffering strategic setbacks, wrecking team morale, and watching productivity and profits flounder. Right now, more companies than ever are drowning in an unprecedented Turnover Tsunami. 

4 tips to survive a tsunamiIt’s all anyone talks about now. From a recent edition of the Society for Human Resource Management magazine to any business blog out there, the Turnover Tsunami is upon us. If you haven’t been affected yet, you’re lucky. For those already hit, the losses are adding up fast.

Calculating the true cost isn’t as simple as it taking X% of an employee’s salary to replace them. It is so much more than that. You’ll be out not just the time and money for recruitment and training, but also the loss of customer’s trust in your brand when they can’t get their product or service with the same speed they’ve come to expect.

What is driving this phenomenon? Most sources agree that a bad manager will drive your good employees off faster than anything; BUT that’s not the only factor right now. If it was, it would be as simple as replacing that one sub-par supervisor. 

We’re now seeing record numbers of people from the bottom to the top of any organization that are just walking away. They’re asking themselves “Is this what I want to do with the rest of my life?” or saying “I did it. I did my duty. But do I want to do it again?” “Is this all there is?” That existential crisis is almost infectious. Worse yet, it’s happening en masse.

Beyond the ones that are deciding “I’m done with this” and moving on, your best and brightest are being courted. “It’s gone beyond just being a candidate driven market,” says Josh McAfee of Humans Doing. “Good talent across the board, whether they’re looking for jobs or not, they’re being actively pursued by companies and recruiters. Not just in their markets, but nationally and sometimes internationally.”

When key contributors resign, they create a stress point. Let’s say you have a team of five developers. Lose one of them and now those other four are having to pick up 25% more work. In this market, there are no quick replacements available. The longer that position remains open, the closer to jumping ship those other developers become. The moment a recruiter or competing company comes along and offers them something even a little bit better, they’re gone. 

So how do you attract and retain top talent and stay afloat during the Turnover Tsunami? Here are four key tips:

Make friends before you need them. Get to know your recruiters, whether they’re internal or you get outside help. Be sure they have an in-depth knowledge of your organization's needs and what it will take for an employee to be a great fit.

Engage your employees. Your workers will have fears and doubts, even in the best of times. With all the uncertainty and opportunity right now, it’s magnified that anxiety. Actively and openly discuss what’s going on with the organization with your teams. Earn their trust. Invite them to communicate with you. That relationship is probably the most valuable thing you’ll have with your teams. 

Build up your talent. Developing the skills of your people is vital to the overall growth and stability of your company. Refining proficiencies, learning new abilities or expertise, and cross training will all strengthen what your employees can contribute and increase how valued they feel. 

Leverage the right system. Communicating and cultivating your employees sounds great, but actually doing it is a whole other matter. You don’t have time or money to waste playing around and testing approaches. You need a proven system that facilitates those conversations, guides development, tracks progress, and gives you power over the data you’re collecting. You need a performance management system that works.

Gary Markle, chief catalyst of Catalytic Coaching Inc, is a speaker, consultant, author, and a business partner of Energage, a Philadelphia-based employee survey firm. Energage is The Washington Post’s survey partner for Top Workplaces.

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