Workforce turnover has always been an issue in the modern job market, but it’s getting serious these days. America is in the midst of a resignation wave and it affects industries of all kinds. How can small businesses adapt and survive this mass exodus of employees?
Step One: Put Politics Aside
For the vast majority of people, work is the economic foundation of American life, so it’s only natural to have robust moral and political beliefs on the subject. Unfortunately, political and generational tension is clouding many employers’ ability to deal with the problem head-on.
Before anything else, it’s time to do some reflection, recognize any strong feelings you may have on the subject, and then let those feelings go and get down to work. It’s time to address the problem with the same acumen and resourcefulness that got your business off the ground in the first place.
Briefly, Why is This Happening?
The most obvious cause of America’s resignation wave is stagnant wages. Wages have not increased to keep up with the prices of goods, especially housing prices.
Now add stress to the mix. According to Gallup’s 2021 Report on the State of the Global Workplace, American workers are among the most stressed in the world.
Gallup has also reported that Americans work more on average than the rest of the industrialized world.
So what can businesses do to attract and retain employees from a workforce that is statistically overworked, underpaid, and stressed out?
Work-Life Balance: What Does It Really Mean?
You’ve probably seen this phrase a million times, but “work-life balance” is not just a buzzword. It’s actually an insight into the psyche of modern employees. Many workers choose to take a pay cut, move to less interesting fields, or work for companies they don’t like simply to have a guaranteed work-life balance.
There’s plenty of literature on this subject, so let’s get to the heart of what you need to do to retain talent.
Be Upfront With Expectations
In a perfect world, you would’ve been able to hire the best employees from day one. In reality, this doesn’t happen as often as it should because of inflated expectations on both ends.
Employers expect top-notch performance out of their workers but don’t always communicate those expectations in terms everyone can understand and appreciate.
How does this relate to work-life balance? Well, if employees are surprised by an overwhelming schedule or workload, they’ll feel taken advantage of. If they weren’t expecting to expend as much mental energy as they are, or if they were misled by the availability you require, then their home lives can begin to suffer.
You may be wondering, “My other employees love their job. What’s the deal?”
Everyone’s life is different. Your new employee may have kids, sick family, health issues, or important projects they need to see through for their family or community. In a lot of cases, it can be something surprisingly simple. For instance, when an employee shares a vehicle with their spouse, sudden schedule changes affect two lives, not one.
If you aren’t upfront with your expectations, your new employee won’t have the opportunity to be upfront with their situation.
Reevaluate Workflows and Offer Flexibility
Efficiency is something adored by employers and employees alike. Higher-ups know the big picture, but lower-level employees are most familiar with the day-to-day tasks. This means employees can have a better understanding of how things can be done more quickly or with less effort. Invite feedback and make changes when it makes sense.
Employees want their work to matter. After all, “work” is half of the “work-life” equation. If an employee knows how their position contributes directly to achieving company goals, then they’re going to perform with purpose and confidence.
Additionally, flexibility can mean efficiency. This is especially true if a position requires an employee’s full attention and undivided focus. “Flexibility” doesn’t just mean an employee has more control over leisure time. It also means they’re able to work when they’re most productive.
“Flexibility” is a two-way road. If someone has the flexibility to get their life in order when they need to, they’ll be out-performers when they clock in.
Finally, Check In
At the end of the day, most employees quit their jobs for one simple reason: they’re unhappy. Make a habit of checking on your employees. Be curious and compassionate and you’ll survive America’s resignation wave.
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