It’s safe to say that businesses that employ staff are struggling right now. There are exceptions, but this is a very clear trend in staffing right now. The easy answer, that many like to point to, is the extra unemployment benefits that have been provided during the pandemic. I’ve heard it said that these benefits have made people lazy, and that they just don’t want to work. I think there’s a whole lot more to it.
What I believe the extra benefits have done is give people options. Those who used to feel stuck in jobs they didn’t like, have had the opportunity to look for jobs with more money, more flexibility, and more happiness. They are starting businesses, going back to school, or using the financial cushion to find a job that aligns with their passions and values.
Employees leaving jobs to pursue something new implies a few things:
- They don’t believe their time is valued by their employer
- They don’t feel fulfilled by their job
- Their needs for flexibility and work-life balance are not being considered
- They are not happy
Recently I read a report on this very topic (shared with me from my fabulous friend and Coach Beth, Unlimited Potential). What I found most interesting is the connection between people leaving and manager burnout. It turns out, people who are stressed, overextended, and depleted, don’t make great staff leaders.
In addition, many companies overlook training managers to be supervisors. Often new leaders are elevated to their position because they were good at their previous role. So now they will supervise others doing that job. What a tricky position to be placed in! Especially if the new supervisor has never experienced quality supervision themselves.
When these two factors are combined it becomes pretty clear why people are leaving their jobs. And it makes it even more important for business leaders to be proactive about taking care of their people.
Right now, the struggling companies are searching for a quick fix to their staff shortage. Some are finding success with things like hiring bonuses and referral rewards. However, I don’t think these will fix the problem long term. In order to do that, leaders need to acknowledge the HUMAN in Human Resources.
This means acknowledging the following and using it to drive decisions and policies:
- Staff want to be respected and valued
- Supervisors need to be trained on how to lead people
- Employees at all levels should be able to find work-life balance
- It starts at the top
Respect & Value
Showing your staff that you respect them and value them is a baseline for retaining them. Different positions in a company will be paid different amounts based on the level of responsibility, expectations, and the experience and expertise needed. That doesn’t necessarily make the people at the top of the organizational chart more important than those further down. In fact, businesses who lift up their front line staff for the valuable work they do interacting with customers, experience better retention. “Lifting up” means paying a respectable wage, valuing ideas and input, treating them with dignity, and actively seeking ways to make their jobs better.
Train Your Supervisors
Some people are naturally gifted at leading others, but even those folks need guidance. Supervisors need to know company expectations regarding how to treat staff, boundaries, communication, and more. I believe the middle manager is often the most important role in a business. They are often young leaders rising through the ranks, and they usually supervise front-line staff who are representing your company to the customer and the world. Great supervisors will grow their staff and develop dynamic teams.
As presented in the report mentioned above, burnout can play a key role in employee attrition. Burnout is usually the result of a person feeling like they have more to do than they could ever get to, even if they worked 24/7. It is often exasperated by a lack of support. A Work-Life Balance culture is one that ensures:
- Jobs are “right-sized” – roles are evaluated regularly to ensure the expectations are reasonable for one person to manage effectively.
- Staff are in the “right seats” – people are well matched with jobs that utilize their skills and knowledge.
- Balance is encouraged – employees know their health, well-being, family, and social life is important to the organization.
- Employee health is a discussion topic – leadership is interested in how employees are doing, but individually and as a team.
Leadership Sets the Tone
Companies wanting to improve staff retention by improving culture need to start at the top. Words are hollow if the leadership of an organization doesn’t follow suit. Those at the top can do more to retain staff than any policy or statement they could make. They do this by talking to staff at all levels to learn, grow and improve the company. They do it by role modeling, taking time for themselves and their families. And they do it by investing in their staff on a regular and ongoing basis.
A while back I wrote about Self-Care for Leaders. This is a good place to start. However, if staff attrition and manager burnout is a chronic problem, it’s time for an intervention. Taking a good look at culture and supervisor training will not provide the quick fix some may need. But it will help create a long-term strategy for the kind of environment where everyone wants to work.
Need help with creating an environment where everyone wants to work? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free 30-minute discovery call to look at how improving your culture and training your supervisors can help your business grow and thrive!
Kim is a mom, wife, lover of being active and the outdoors,
and helper of small businesses and nonprofits.