Prepare for Post-Recession Job Churn

Yes, I know. You thought you were supposed to worry when the economy was in the tank. Well, I’m here to tell you if you’ve been a lackluster leader you may have worse worries ahead of you.

Here’s why.

Over the past few years, job hopping has pretty much come to a stand still because of the poor economy and job market. Companies weren’t hiring and employees were just plain thankful to have a job.

Given these circumstances, maybe you’ve been focusing more on financial performance than the proper care and feeding of your team. Now, I’m going to ask you take take a hard look at your own performance as a team leader. Have you neglected some important aspects of nurturing your team? You know what I’m talking about — things like one-on-one coaching sessions, expressions of appreciation for all they were doing, and small celebrations that kept the team motivated. Without these things you may be leaving your team members feeling undervalued and unmotivated. Many of your team may have one foot out the door and you don’t even know it.

A USA Today article on worker frustration, captured it well.

The boss’ perception: Given the rough economy, workers are thrilled just to have a steady paycheck. The employee’s reality: Many are frustrated, secretly seeking new opportunities — and soon could be scooped up by another company as the economy recovers.

They aren’t the only ones. An interview with employee engagement expert, Bob Kelleher reveals that a third of your employees may be ready to quit. Specifically, Kelleher says,

Expect a return to pre-recession turnover rates in the coming months as the economy slowly rebounds, he says. Not only that, but you’re likely to see an increase in historical turnover rates as employees who might have changed jobs in better times, but who cooled their heels during recession, prepare to jump ship. This “queued-up effect,” as Kelleher calls it, may result in turnover as high as 25 to 30%.

Realizing that team members leave managers, not companies, puts the responsibility for retaining talent squarely on your back. Wow! So what can you do?

Take steps to be a better leader. First you need to fess up and admit to being “not so good” at paying attention to your team members’ needs over the past couple of years. Set up a meeting with each person (30 minutes should do the trick), to discuss their hopes and dreams and future with your company. Then start having team health meetings to ensure the entire team is working the most effectively together.

This will get you moving on the right track and may prevent a mass exodus of employees to your competitors. Do it now.

What do you think? Are you at risk of losing your team members to another company? Please leave a comment.

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  • Robert Guimain

    Denise, very nice article. Treating one’s team members with respect and individual attention does payoff. I can corroborate your analysis of the pent-up demand for switching jobs and the power of good team member relationships.

    A few years back, I led multiple global development teams consisting of over 350+ employees. When Motorola had to downsize, the trust built with the real people in my teams, helped me do the very difficult task of exiting all these great folks from the company. I was being let go; as well, but I didn’t jump ship. I worked hard to humanize the process and lessen the stress on my team members and the reverberations in their families. I remember the day that I stood in front of 180 members, announced the layoffs, the closure of our Australian centers, and the following several days of 1:1 sessions. There were a few surprises. I had dozens of individuals come up to me and thank me for the manner in which I had managed the last task of our relationship. During the prior two layoff cycles, the employees were herded into a large room and told that if their name was not up on the screen, they were being let go. No interaction, no explanation, no attempt at compassion or respect for the impact this was having on their lives. Treating people right and recognizing their contributions, no matter the external circumstances, is always good for business.

    So what does this have to do with your article? People commit themselves to people, they work to pay the bills.

    I am currently unemployed and networking with many of my prior team members, all currently have jobs. Almost every one of them stated they would be interested in leaving their current job to come work for me, wherever I landed. This is not just a US recession phenomenon. I’ve gotten these comments from members in India, Australia, Singapore, and China. Looking for work is emotionally draining, but getting these sincere statements of support from my ex-team members, helps validate my management style and gives me strength in my own search for an opportunity to create value for a new firm and continue to build great teams.

    Kind of a long comment, but I wanted to give meaningful feedback. Thanks Bob

    • Thank you @64d9a353cc4360a77a7f31b49f583d96:disqus. I really appreciate your thoughtful comments. I am sorry to hear about your situation, but know there is a spot out there for you that’s just the right fit.

      It’s really a shame how many organizations treat people as just “resources.” That’s evident in the layoff process you detailed above. I have heard of the same experience from plenty of other people. I think the bottom line here is — who would want to work for a company that treats people that way anyway? Those are the type of organizations that will face some real people problems once the economy truly does turn the corner.

      The comments from your previous team members is confirmation that the people connection works. I”m seeing more and more companies starting to get that message (finally!). I think it will be slow and steady adoption, but I have faith that someday we’ll get there.

      Do keep me posted on what’s happening with you. If you’re on twitter, you can connect with me there — @askteamdoc

  • Good article Dani! but i am new to this field so i have no ideas. but i want to know what was you said.


  • Anonymous

    This is very good article to read. I personally believe that don’t depend on any job or company try to make your own and different. I understand that everyone can not do business but there are lots of thing which will not need to invest money for start and if you work harder than you will get good return.