The Great Resignation and What to Do About It

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. 

Work-Life Balance

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 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 Stewart

Kim is a mom, wife, lover of being active and the outdoors,
and helper of small businesses and nonprofits.

Wanna Grow Your Business? Grow Your Staff

Staff Success

Unless your business is completely run by robots or other automatons, you likely rely heavily on staff. Employees are probably the ones creating your product, communicating with your customers, delivering your services, and managing your processes. Your staff are your direct connection between you and your customers. They are responsible for executing your vision for how your business serves your customers or your community. 

In many businesses staff salaries are by far the largest line item in the budget. Yet, oftentimes things like equipment, inventory, and facilities end up getting much more attention and financial resources than the staff. Think of the time, energy and money that goes into maintaining a company vehicle. This important resource likely receives regular oil changes, preventative maintenance, and routine TLC cleaning. Imagine if the same amount of planning, time, energy and financial investment went into our people! 

When a company hits a wall in terms of growth, or a nonprofit organization becomes stagnant in the impact they are providing, it almost always comes down to culture. A stagnant business can be traced back to a dysfunctional, negative, toxic culture. Changes to other facets of the business may deliver short-term improvements. However, in order to make real progress for lasting growth and impact, the culture must be fixed. 

Healthy cultures boil down to two things: 

    1. How a company treats their people 
    2. A commitment to clear and honest communication

A business that masters these two components is well on their way to success. Obviously, attention needs to be given to financial management, quality processes, strategic planning and more. But without a healthy culture, those other things will only take you so far. 

Benefits of Nurturing Your Staff

There are hundreds of benefits a company can reap from lifting-up, valuing and honoring their employees. This article will not list hundreds of benefits. Rather, it will focus on a few key benefits that will help your business grow or your agency impact to expand. 

  • Staff who feel valued become loyal team members. Nothing beats a loyal staff member! Loyal employees do more for the PR and brand of your company than any marketing campaign ever will. When someone loves their job, they tell everyone. They attract customers, potential employees, and prospective donors for nonprofit organizations. That kind of messaging is genuine and captivating. Thus appealing to people who otherwise may have never given your business a second thought. 
  • Another benefit of loyal team members is that they work harder, are solution oriented, and care about the quality of work they do for you. These folk have a vested interest in the success of the business. They embrace the direction you are taking your company or the impact your agency is striving for in your community. Loyal employees do their best and work with the company’s interest top of mind. 
  • Supporting your staff looks good on you. Companies that invest in their employees, foster their growth, and help them pursue their career goals are companies that people want to work for. Recruiting, hiring, and training staff can be extremely expensive. Imagine if prospective employees came to you because they want to be part of how you grow your staff! Additionally, the level to which you respect your staff comes right back around. Want to be respected at work, be the leader in demonstrating what that looks like. 
  • Valuing your staff creates a positive culture. As stated above, how a company treats their staff is foundational to creating a healthy culture. And nothing fosters growth and increased impact like a healthy and positive culture. If growth and increased impact isn’t motivational enough, great cultures are fun to be part of and to lead. Since most people spend at least half of their waking hours at work, a positive company culture will improve the collective and individual mental health of the entire staff team. 

As there are hundreds of benefits to nurturing your staff, there are just as many ways to lift-up your staff. The best way to do this is to use your unique personality and leadership skills to genuinely value your staff. Still not sure how to get started? Here are some tips to get the ball rolling. 

Getting Started

  1. Listen. Take the time to listen to your staff. Fully listen. Approach conversions with a listening mind-set. There is no greater gift you can give someone than to listen to them with an intent to understand. You can read more about this topic here and here and here
  2. Build real relationships. Just like “Employees don’t leave jobs, they leave bosses”, staff also stay with bosses they like, enjoy being around, and respect. Listening is a great way to start down this path. Couple it with asking really good questions and you’ve got this one made! 
  3. Give them what they need. There are the basics. Workstation. Computer. Stapler. These are the obvious things – you give them whatever equipment they need to do their job. Beyond that – training and a safe environment to learn is also expected. What about those employees who need a lot of positive reinforcement? Or the ones who need to chat with you for a few minutes each day? And what about those who need to check-in regularly to make sure they are on track? Do you give them what they need? Giving employees these things (essentially your time and acknowledgement) may be challenging when you’re busy. However, when you think about the value of a loyal employee, it seems less like an interruption to your day and more like a crucial part of leading people.  
  4. The Golden Rule. It turns out that your company’s human resources are made up of HUMANS! Who would have thought? And do you know what humans like to be treated like? You guessed it – humans. This one is very simple. When interacting with an employee, think about how you would like to be treated in that interaction. This usually includes values like respect, dignity, caring, trusting, and maybe fun. If team member interactions can be tied back to company values, it’s even better. 

Before closing this article, I want to be clear that I am not suggesting tolerating staff who are not a fit for your company, your culture, or the jobs you have available. I believe wholeheartedly in hiring slowly (to ensure a good fit) and firing quickly. Rip that band-aid off if that’s the right decision. Your job as the leader is to make sure you have provided everything staff need in order to be successful. If you are confident you have fulfilled your end of the bargain and it’s still not working out, decide and take action quickly. 

Need help elevating your organization’s culture? Email me at to schedule a free 30-minute consultation to discuss how I can help you create a culture that will grow your business and increase your impact! 

Kim is a mom, wife, lover of being active and the outdoors,
and helper of small businesses and nonprofits. 


Developing Supervisors

About two thirds of American employees would forgo a pay raise if their company did this one thing. What is it?

  • Provide more vacation?
  • Increase benefits?
  • Hold weekly happy hours?

No, no, and no, it’s none of those things. 65% of employees say getting rid of their boss would make them happier than a salary increase. From that statistic we can infer that only about 35% of staff supervisors are very good at their job.

Many leaders find that supervising staff is the most difficult part of their job. And working with people certainly can be challenging for many reasons. 

  • People are all different – one size doesn’t fit all
  • People have varying degrees of professionalism and work ethic
  • People have lives and baggage they bring to work
  • People have opinions and minds of their own

It’s no wonder that supervisors struggle! Add to that the fact that in the role of supervisor you need to present yourself as an authority. A leader. And aren’t leaders supposed to have all the answers? Not necessarily. And that’s the topic of today’s article. 

It all Starts with Developing Good Supervisors

Having spent much of my career in the nonprofit sector, I can say without hesitation that I didn’t always do a good job of developing supervisors. On at least one occasion I have hired a new director, shown them to their office, gave them their list of direct-reports and sent them off to sink or swim. When you supervise people for a living, sometimes it’s hard to remember that it’s a skill people need to be taught. 

Forgetting, not taking the time, or not thinking it’s necessary to train staff on how to supervise is likely the source of so many bad bosses. Fortunately for me, I always learn more from my mistakes than I do from times when everything went smoothly. Here is what I have learned are the baseline skills any supervisor needs before they should be allowed to lead people. 

  • Good supervisors train their staff – not just what to do, but how and why

I touched on this a little in last week’s blog about internal communications. This topic is important enough to give more attention. Staff are not mind-readers. Can they figure it out? Yes, sometimes. They may be able to figure out what they should be doing. However, it’s the how and the why that will help them to be successful. It’s the how and why that will set any company apart from the competition. 

If a company makes widgets, it’s obvious that staff need to know what to do to make a widget.  Say the company prides itself on producing the very best widgets in the industry. There may be a special technique to making the very best widgets. This is where the how comes in. The supervisor will need to train staff on exactly how to create the very best widgets in the industry. Additionally, explaining the why will give the staff ownership and buy-in. If the company strives to be the number one widget producer in the world, how the widgets are made will play a big role in reaching that goal. The supervisor is connecting the dots between what the widget maker is doing every day and how it connects to the company’s global vision. 

As a supervisor, it is easier and takes less time to just tell staff what to do. It’s even easier to just tell them the what and the how. Really good supervisors close the loop to ensure staff feel a part of the bigger picture. Knowing why their actions have larger implications motivates them to take the extra steps to produce quality work. 

  • Good supervisors listen AT LEAST as much as they speak

Quality, thoughtful staff training will lay the foundation for a staff person to be successful. The next important component to supervising is to listen at least as much (if not more) than you speak. Once staff are trained on the what, how, and why, it’s time to shift to listening mode. Check for understanding. Ask what questions they have. Ask again, because they may not want to give a bad impression by not understanding instructions the first time around. 

In addition to making sure they understand their job fully, ask about their ideas for improvements. The company may think they have created the very best system for producing quality widgets. However, the people doing the work every day might have some great ideas for improving upon the process. Ask about efficiencies. Ask about quality. Ask. Ask. Ask. 

In a community I used to live in, the garbage men and women would go around and collect garbage by picking up the street-side dumpsters and physically dumping them into the garbage truck. This was time and staff intensive, as well as physically taxing. Deciding there had to be a better way, one garbage man designed an automated system that would pick up the street-side dumpsters and pour them into the garbage truck. He did the math and was able to show that investing in this system would reduce workman’s compensation expenses, enable trucks to operate with fewer staff, and warrant the company to expand its service. Leadership listened. The expansion allowed them to retain the extra staff no longer needed on the trucks, by growing to more service areas. 

Staff have great ideas. Granted, they have some bad ones too. Innovation and new opportunities come from discussing ideas. Good supervisors create an atmosphere where staff enjoy sharing their ideas – the good and the bad. 

  • Good supervisors treat staff like real human beings

Think about this. How do you like to be treated at work? With respect? Like you matter? As if the things you think and say have value and could help advance the work of the company? Well, it’s the same for employees. Gone are the days of people just feeling blessed to work for a company. Competition for quality employees is higher than ever. Creating an environment where people feel great about working for you is key to attracting and keeping the kind of people you want in your company. 

This means getting to know them. Find out about their family and their background. Supervisors should create opportunities to know what’s going on with their staff. They shouldn’t find out through the grapevine that a staff member is getting married or going to Australia or dealing with the loss of a loved one. Opportunities for personal relationship building should be built into staff meetings or one-on-one conversations. And supervisors need to listen closely during these segments. In addition to learning about the people who work for the company, supervisors will also learn a lot about what staff like or dislike about working for them. 

When developing a new supervisor, these are the basics. Creating learning opportunities where new (or not so new) supervisors can master these three things will start them on the path to success. Do leaders need to know everything? No. They need to know how to train their staff on the what, how, and why of their jobs. Beyond that, supervisors need to support and listen to their staff. 

I was going to move on to the skills that will take supervisors to the next level, but I think that warrants its own article. Next week I will delve into giving staff autonomy, the spotlight, and advancement opportunities. Isn’t it exciting to have something to look forward to!?!?

Want to create a culture where employees trust, respect, and enjoy their bosses? Need help cultivating good supervisors in your business or organization? Email me at to schedule a free 30-minute consultation to discuss getting started. Calm the Chaos with quality supervisors, so you can find time to focus on what’s important to YOU! 

Kim is a mom, wife, lover of being active and the outdoors,
and helper of small businesses and nonprofits.