I Say the Resume Tsunami is Nothing More Than a Drop in the Bucket

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:

  1. The workforce gets treated poorly all the time and on average only 1 in 5 people regularly leaves to find “something better.” 
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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?
  5. 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. 
  6. 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.

2 Responses to I Say the Resume Tsunami is Nothing More Than a Drop in the Bucket
  1. Stephanie Kempa
    January 13, 2010 | 9:33 am

    Charlie, I agree with what you’re saying, but I also agree with Deloitte and the others and here’s why — attrition is at unnaturally low levels. Everyone talks about the economic impact of adding jobs but everyone is missing a huge piece of the puzzle, which is the job market that’s created by “churn”.

    The chicken-and-egg problem is that when attrition is low, fewer jobs are open. In a normal environment, the attrition creates a lot of job opportunity — I would argue that it’s probably more of the job market than new/incremental jobs. Fewer job opportunities mean fewer people leaving to go to those jobs, resulting in fewer backfill opportunities.

    The only way to break the cycle is for attrition to increase and for companies to backfill those positions. And I do think attrition will increase when there are more opportunities and choices, and it will be healthier for everyone if employees who are dissatisfied leave.

    Good stuff, by the way, hope you don’t mind – I’ve added you to my blogroll.

  2. Charlie Judy
    January 13, 2010 | 10:12 am

    Stephanie, thx for your thoughtful response. you’re absolutely right – the chicken-and-egg rears its ugly head again. there is always some level of uncertainty – or a guessing game – in determining where our people’s heads are. honored to be on your blogroll.

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