Who’s the Real Flight Risk? Why Employees Leave (and Stay)

An excerpt from Staying Power:

Who’s the Real Flight Risk?

Why do people stay at your organization? Is it because they’re passionate about the work they do? Do they enjoy working with their colleagues and/or those you serve? Do they feel well-compensated and appreciated? Or is it for another reason?

While I would like to think these positive reasons are the primary basis for why staff stay, that’s not always the case. Here are a few reasons why some staff stick around, even when they are unhappy in their current role or situation:

  1. True loyalty. Some employees feel a sense of obligation to the owners, business, clients, or even a single manager who gave them the job and have invested in their career over time.
  2. Skills gap. If workers have not kept up with continuing education or evolving skills needed in their industries, their current skills may no longer hold value in today’s employment market.
  3. Golden handcuffs. When employees build up a cushion of paid time off (PTO) and are given several more weeks each year, it’s very difficult to start over elsewhere.
  4. VIP status. When someone has worked at the same place for a long time, they have tremendous institutional knowledge and know how to pull strings to accomplish what they want. Even if seasoned workers are not in an official position of authority, they often carry weight among their peers, which they don’t want to give up by leaving.
  5. Lack of self-esteem. Some workers don’t have enough confidence in their skills or value to look for another job, and those individuals often loathe the thought of interviewing due to the potential rejection.
  6. Creatures of habit. Some people just do not like change. They prefer to stay in their comfort zones doing their current jobs, and they don’t want to transition over to a new company, new role, new colleagues, new boss, new systems and new processes.

Any chance you have a few workers on your team who appear to be more loyal than they truly are? It’s not a bad thing. They are dependable workers who get their jobs done with little supervision needed. But managers need to keep in mind that not everyone who stays is loyal to the organization or their managers. Unfortunately, today’s younger workers have garnered a negative reputation for being job hoppers when, in fact, all new hires are a flight risk, regardless of their age. New hires don’t have the “golden handcuffs” seasoned workers do, and most new hires have the confidence and courage to change jobs, or they would have stayed put.

Think of it this way. If someone was willing to leave their last company to come work for you, they are likely to leave you for the next opportunity that appeals to them.

Trees vs. Revolving Doors

The veteran group of dependable workers described earlier is what I refer to as the “trees” in our workforce today. They are deep-rooted in the organization and are not likely to go elsewhere anytime soon.

Now, the other part of the workforce is a completely different story. These less stable positions in the company are the “revolving door” roles, which rotate through new hires faster than managers would like, and that cost companies dearly in losses of productivity and profitability as they repeatedly rehire and retrain for these jobs.

At most organizations, I find the majority of positions fall into one of these two categories: trees or revolving doors. If you had to separate your entire workforce into only these two buckets, what percent of your staff falls into each? (There is no right answer. This is just to help you reflect on your current staffing situation.) Is it 70/30, 60/40, 50/50?

Now, project out five to 10 years and envision what percentage of your staff will fall into each category then. Scary, right? It doesn’t have to be!

The impending transition from a long-term workforce to a shorter-term workforce should not blindside any manager or company. We can see it coming, and can prepare for it now.

As more trees retire, they are not likely to be replaced by newer trees who will stay long term but, instead, those roles will become more revolving-door positions. This is already occurring in several industries and the trend will continue. I bring this projection to light as a way to jump-start your leadership team into discussions about the importance of understanding today’s new workforce and making retention efforts a priority. The costs associated with a lack of preparation will be detrimental to some organizations.

And keep in mind, the goal is not to stop the revolving door. The goal is to slow it down to a manageable pace that is sustainable.

Do you have a plan for the workforce transition? And do you know the parties involved?

 

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