What Does Business Growth Have In Common With People?

What Does Business Growth Have In Common With People?

by Janice Giannini

We are focusing on people for this edition of our newsletter. But, as I thoughtfully consider the many challenges in today's work environment, I can't help feeling that connecting the dots might yield better results for everyone.

What are the dots as I see them?

  • The attrition rate/voluntary resignation rate is higher than ever. Some estimates I've seen are 40% to 50%. However, it does vary by country/industry/geography.
  • High attrition rates drive up the cost, lower company performance, and may cause lower morale and, at some point, cascade. Positive company growth requires a reasonable level of stability.
  • There are many reasons people are leaving their current employers. Among them are unmet expectations/needs in several areas, to name a few: caring and inspiring leaders, career development, unsustainable expectations given resources availability, workplace safety, workplace flexibility, and meaningful work.

I've seen data analyzed by industry, age, and different cohorts. However, a few attributes are common regardless of how one views the data.

Some commonalities surround the unmet needs of caring and inspiring leaders, flexibility, meaningful work, and a supportive community for work, health, and well-being.

Perhaps understanding what people need to stay might be a jumping-off point. Suppose the following was representative in your organization. People would stay and thus reduce the attrition rate for the business if:

  • There was workplace flexibility that met most peoples' needs
  • Most people understood and felt their work had meaning
  • There was adequate compensation, not necessarily over-the-top compensation
  • The environment was supportive in terms of culture, health, and well-being
  • Most people see career development and advancement across the company

What are questions that companies/organizations could entertain to help foster this?

  • First, ask your associates two questions: what causes you to want to stay and what causes you to want to leave?
  • If your research mirrors some of the reasons above, ask yourself what you can do to improve it.
  • Examples:
    • Workplace flexibility: is it too rigid; can you implement some form of job sharing to tap into the excellent talent that, for valid reasons, can't meet the rigorous schedule; is it time to reconsider organization policies and practices that may have worked very well in the past, but may not be optimal anymore?
    • Improve the leaders' ability to understand why the company does what it does and effectively communicate that to everyone across the organization. If the leaders don't understand or can't articulate it, how would an associate know it?
    • At 50,000 feet explain how the company runs and the dependencies among the associates, investors, and customers. Explain the comp structure and the tie into customers' and investors' stock prices and needs. It is a cycle, and if the design is lop-sided for some reason, perhaps a plan to re-align it.
    • Ask yourself if the culture is supportive across a few dimensions: work processes, associates' health, and well-being.
    • Is there a career development process to identify associates' potential and provide growth opportunities for people? If not, do you need to start doing that?

Many people have more potential than they may be using. An individual's job is the starting point, not the endpoint. As people reach their potential they feel valued and more committed, and the company grows.

Leadership and Communications Development Investments for all leaders and an open mindset about change can improve many of these "reasons to leave or stay."

Historically, investing in some of these areas has not always been valued. Yet, in today's world, it just might net outsized growth. So, is it worth a thought?

The questions for each company are:

  • Is the Board of Directors satisfied with current results? If not, is the Board and Committee structure facilitating a focus in these areas? What actions are needed to address this? Is the risk of the status quo acceptable?
  • Is the C-Suite satisfied with the current results? If not, is there a willingness to embark on a journey like this?
  • Is there a willingness and commitment to follow through? If not, then starting this journey may not be worth it. Corollary, what is the risk of not doing it?
  • Suppose a company implemented even a few of these ideas successfully. Would it cut the attrition rate and make the competition for talent swing in your favor, thereby improving company performance?

What do you have to lose?