When I first meet my clients, they have been trying to push the rock over the top of the hill for some time. Let’s define “pushing the rock over the top of the hill”. This means to obtain a satisfactory and sustained level of employee turnover, chronically open positions and skills gap. Consistently, they will have short periods of time where they make progress. Only to see the rock roll back on top of them again. Their progress is due to them trying something which they read about or one of their competitors did. It may or may not work out.
We hit a major milestone in the fight against COVID-19 this week. Schools all over the country reopened from Kindergarten to the University level. The reopenings were different for each school. Some are close to reopening as in the past with relatively minor restrictions. Others are reopening in a fully virtual basis. This will have a major impact on the lives of the parents. Therefore, there will also be a major impact on the employers.
Something happened years ago, which I will always remember. A couple was building a house and they went out one weekend to take a look at the progress. The woman was disappointed because when they arrived at the site, the slab had not even been poured yet. There was PVC pipe sticking up and running around where the slab was going to be poured. The man told his wife they were going to pour the slab later the coming week. The wife’s response was: “When are they installing the kitchen cabinets?” The husband said it was going to be a while.
The question of which came first the chicken or the egg has been around for a long time. There is a variation of this question in the area of employee turnover. Which comes first, do you focus on hiring better candidates? Or do you work on the organization by identifying and fixing the root causes of your turnover? In my experience, I see most organizations with high employee turnover trying to recruit their way out of the problem.
In every organization there is a difference between the reality of the organizations’ culture and the culture the leaders’ desire. The leaders then try to drive the culture in the direction they want to go. This is normal and expected. However, this creates an issue which needs to be addressed. How will the organization present the culture to the outside world? I have seen organizations who try to present where they are moving toward as their current culture. But, this culture does not yet exist.
Whatever you do, good or bad, people will always have something negative to say
- W H Auden
Everyone in the organization knew a press release was being prepared. They also knew it was being released on Thursday. The rumors were rampant. Routinely, people were coming into my office asking me what was going on. We were a publicly held company – my hands were tied. The executives were trying to slow the rumors down. It seemed like all it did was get worse. Within one work day the rumor mill was totally out of control. Now it is amusing to look back and think of some of the rumors that were being peddled.
We are finally at the point where more businesses are being reopened. More people are going back to work and resuming their previous activities. Some organizations are reopening from full or partial shutdowns. Others are simply bringing people back to the office from being at home. Whichever is your case, a question is begged.
Previously in this blog, we have discussed the backbone of your company. This is the group of employees who are driving sales and customer satisfaction. Generally they are the ones who are in direct contact with your customers or shape your product or service. The better they perform, the higher the sales and the better the quality of your product or service. Executives, administrative support and new employees are never part of the backbone.
Organizations have a core group of people at the top who seldom leave. If they do it is a planned retirement. The turnover rate for the top 10 to 30% of an organization is generally quite low if not non-existent. The turnover rate goes up as you go down in the hierarchy of the organization. The turnover rate is always the highest at the bottom; specifically the first 60 days of employment.