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Where did everybody go?
This spring, it seemed that every professional with whom I spoke was dealing with departing staff. Over the past 18 months, millions of people have had a personal and professional “reset” that sometimes means they no longer see a future they want with their current employer.
Whenever I hear about this, my first reaction includes a clench of anxiety at the thought that any of my own people might leave. What can I do to keep them happy with my company?
First off, make sure your pay and benefits package is at least comparable to your competitors. That’s an obvious one.
The second one is more time-consuming, but it’s the one that REALLY matters. Communicate with your staffers, starting with anyone who is pretty much irreplaceable. Check in with them about how they are doing short-term (working during Covid, childcare issues, concerns about returning to in-person, current team-dynamics with their coworkers, etc.) as well as long-term. By long-term, I mean that you can find out what their professional aspirations are—what does success look like for THEM? Don’t assume everyone wants to be the CEO. What DO they want from their career? What are the fulfilling and satisfying parts of their jobs? Where do they seem themselves 5, 10, 20 years in the future?
Once you know what they want from their careers, you can help them find a path to the success and fulfillment THEY want in YOUR organization. If they don’t think the future they want lies with you, they probably will go elsewhere. Give them training, growth opportunities, and help them map out the possibilities, and what it will take to get there. Then keep doing it—keep them moving toward the future they want, and you will have an engaged, motivated, high-morale, and loyal team-member.
Finally, that “irreplaceable” concept is one to consider. Encourage your people to train each other on the things only they can do, and to share the knowledge that only they have. We used to call it the “If I am hit by a bus” plan, but if that’s too twisted and dark for you, you can consider it the “If I win the lottery and/or want to go on vacation” plan.