I call it “Turkey Regret’, that feeling we get around the holidays of annoyance and frustration with all the things in your life that aren’t quite right. As we enter the festive period people start reflecting. Maybe they do it to distract themselves while that awkward uncle makes inappropriate jokes over Xmas dinner as the sherry starts to take effect. More likely because for a lot of people works actually stops for more than just a weekend. We have time to think, we look back at the year and decide what made us happy, what we were irritated by and what we want to avoid with the dawning of a new year.
We all have good intentions with our New Year’s resolutions, despite our regular failure in seeing them all through. Herein lies the problem for employers, often they are subject to one of those New Year’s resolutions, even if the person doesn’t see them through. If the studies are accurate, only a small fraction of any workforce is truly engaged, so that means the majority of your employees are considering their employment during this reflection time. That has a knock on effect to productivity which can slow the start to a year and overall impact results. Like a sprinter who gets out of the blocks slow, you are then forced to chase your competitor rather than focus on staying ahead.
There is a reason we invest so much time talking about employee productivity and retention– it is imperative to the success and growth of any business. We all seem to know the importance of communication, a vision and objective setting when it comes to engaging and retaining employees, yet employee attrition continues to rise.
Come January 1st a large proportion of your team, whether you are willing to admit it or not, will consider their future with your business. Every year job searches on Indeed surge dramatically in early January, 2017 will be no different.
Kick off the year right by Improving Engagement
Engagement can’t be fixed overnight, so I’m afraid I can’t give you a quick fix but today is always the right day to start impacting your business. Forbes developed a great article highlighting the 10 main career change goals for employees in the New Year and some jumped out at me, In particular reducing stress, work/life balance and self-improvement. Just because your employee has thought about leaving, it doesn’t mean they already have self-selected out. These areas all have short term, quick win opportunities attached allowing you to influence their decision and maybe give them a reason to give your company a little more time.
Start the New Year on the right foot, maybe with a new work from home policy for certain situations, a family focused ‘turn you email off’ from 6-8pm or on weekends policy. What about bringing in a coach to work with your team on how to develop skills that help them personally and professionally? One client I know ran sessions on how to communicate online and through email effectively. Perhaps have sessions introducing them to tools like CrystalKnows which helps them understand who people are before they speak to them. The bottom line is to give them something new, something beneficial early in the year that helps them see the change they are craving. You have a clean slate and a chance to start over with your people – make that your new year’s resolution and build new leadership habits.
Contingency plans to replace key employees
Although we are hoping for the best, it is imperative that you plan for the worst at this crucial time. What are you going to do if your star employee quits the first week of January? How do you recover quickly to still hit your annual goals? What is the cost, how long will it take to replace them, how long will the ramp up of an new employee be and where do you make up these gaps?
Take a look at your group, identify your upper quartile people and consider whether you can fix it internally or externally. Consider who the stakeholders are and have conversations with those you will need in case the worst case happens. Do you have a third party you trust; do you have people earmarked at competitors you want to target? Can you work with HR or a search firm to build a strategy, do some early stage research? It is impossible to be totally prepared for employee turnover, but you can minimize the impact by having a plan.