I’m a Deloitte alum and usually pay attention to what comes out of their Human Capital group. Rarely is it directionally unsound, but often it contains a bit too much of the “No Duh Factor.” Recently they undertook a study that resulted in some thinking on managing in turbulent times. One of their stances was “Heading off a Resume Tsunami” . Their argument was that some time in the near future – as the market turns – the best and brightest will be aggressive about finding new digs. The related warning is that if you don’t take care of your talent during this terribly precarious time, you are likely to lose them when the time is ripe. Deloitte isn’t the only group making this argument – many of those soaring in the blogosphere have said as much. Do you know what I say to that? “Bovine Crap!” Here’s what I think:
- The workforce gets treated poorly all the time and on average only 1 in 5 people regularly leaves to find “something better.”
- Just because the economy gets better and jobs start opening up doesn’t mean the high-performer (or Average Joe for that matter) will have the first order of business to jump ship. Do you think the smart ones will really think things are better on the other side? “The Devil You Know” often prevails.
- Good people have options ALL THE TIME. They are free agents – there is no guarantee they are coming back the next day…ever. If they really had plans to leave, they’d already be gone.
- Our company’s voluntary turnover rate has been on a steady decline since August – that while the market has already supposedly turned. And our company is going through a lot of crap right now…a lot of crap! We’re part of a broader industry that has not been hurt as much by this downturn – there are options. Why would one wait until the crap is over to leave…why not leave while things are crappy?
- Surviving a trauma together builds commitment. Those companies that have had it rough over the last two years – and that’s most companies – will have shared an experience with those people who elect to stay through it. The last thing someone is going to want after clearing the wreck is to go into another period of ambiguity, anxiety, and uncertainty with a new employer. Masochism is not a crucial element to most people’s career objectives.
- I hypothesize that the workforce, in general, is becoming much more tolerant of an employer’s shortcomings. This period of economic strife has proven to those who are lucky enough to have a job that it really ain’t all that bad. I think there is a new wave of employee engagement coming and it goes something like “thank you sir, may I have another.”
Call me naive, overly optimistic, or just plain old blind; but I don’t see it guys. We’re all going to be happy when this is over and those of us who are smart are going to realize there are very few (other) employers out there that can actually make us happier. And HR, this is no different than any other time – treat your people like people and the rest will take care of itself.
While you’re at it, what’s happening with voluntary turnover at your company? Take a poll: http://polls.linkedin.com/p/70299/idugl
Postscript UPDATE: A Gallup Management Journal study released on 1/4/2009 concluded that “Despite the Downturn, Employees Remain Engaged” and saw very little shift in engagement measures over these tumultuous 12-18 months.