End of the Recession – Employee-chosen Departures Exceed Lay-offs

As I previously suggested in another post here, company practices in the downturn and what many employees were put through is in fact now coming back to bite.  An Associated Press story from June 9 shows that people quitting jobs is now outnumbering people being laid off…

“Studies have shown that worker morale fell during the recession. Productivity rose as companies squeezed more work out of their employees. That points to a reason quits may keep rising: Overworked employees could jump at the chance to switch jobs as new opportunities arise.  ‘There is going to be a mass exodus of the top performers as the economy starts to turn around,’ predicts Razor Suleman, a consultant who helps companies retain their best workers.”

As a consultant, I myself have seen business go from a decline in 2009 to exceedingly busy since January 2010.  I count myself blessed for this bounty, but I’m not alone – every consultant I know is now working hard, and online postings for help have increased dramatically.  Even though the national unemployment number is still up, it’s waning – the recession is over.

Since many companies cut to the bone during the downturn, there isn’t much fat left to be trimmed.  That means incumbent workers and their inside knowledge and experience are even more valuable.  This is the time to reinforce commitment and a shared, inclusive and beneficial vision, to proactively communicate from the top levels of the business down through all levels of the organization, to acknowledge worker sacrifice for the past 2 years with a sincere thank you and maybe a little cash spent.

It’s my belief that in the long run, most people will be willing to recommit if they feel they’re being treated fairly, being respected and getting the reward – monetary or intangible – that needs to come from what we do 40, 50 or 60 hours a week.  Real leadership, a bit of backing off on unsustainable expectations, and an environment of open communication will start rebuilding trust now, limiting flight risk that will increase along with the economic recovery.

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