The last three years have been a rollercoaster for employees and businesses alike. From COVID regulations forcing owners to shut their doors, to employees quitting due to a lack of childcare, and everything in between. We’ve seen furloughs, lay-off’s, hiring-spree’s, more lay-off’s, businesses unexpectedly closing their doors, and more. You can’t go far without seeing a handful of ‘Help Wanted’ signs. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 10.3 million job openings on the last day of October 2022 and 4.02 Million people quit their jobs in October 2022. I work with several businesses in a variety of industries and they are all saying the same thing – it’s nearly impossible to hire people. One of my clients told me today “We can’t even get people to show up for interviews.”
What does this mean for the employees that are still working? If I had to take a wild guess, I’d say they’re overworked and feeling undervalued, which is a pretty significant contributing factor in the current turn-over rates.
Person A leaves their job for any number of reasons.
Person A’s responsibilities are divvied up between Persons B & C, typically with no additional compensation.
Persons B & C were already fighting burnout prior to A leaving due to supply chain shortages, inconsiderate customers, lack of recognition from management/team members.
Person A’s responsibilities create added stress, longer hours, and rapidly accelerate burnout in Persons B & C.
Persons B & C begin seeking employment elsewhere, and the cycle continues. Help Wanted.
Even pre-pandemic, burnout was happening. Other factors include poor work-life balance due to unmanageable hours, unrealistic deadlines, poor communication from management teams, unmanageable work loads, negative/hostile atmospheres, and more. Every time a business experiences growth, or turn-over, or makes any variety of operations changes – it impacts the work load of it’s employees. Before you even realize it, your people are suffocating under duties that they never actually signed up for. Sure – your bottom line looks great in the beginning. Why pay out an extra salary when your existing employees are managing the load? Your bottom line isn’t stable when your employees aren’t stable, and your employees won’t be stable until they are valued and appropriately compensated. Ditch the Help Wanted signs, and start pouring your efforts into employee retention.
Burnout is not inevitable.
Here’s a few tips to aid you in actively engaging with your staff and building morale.
- Start by humanizing your people – As a manager it’s easy to see your employees as just that. Employees. They come to work, do their job (hopefully well) and leave. If you are incapable of acknowledging that they have a life outside of your business, you aren’t promoting a healthy work-life balance. Your employees have family, hobbies, and homes to tend to. We weren’t built to wake up every day, go to work, and die.
- Maintain open lines of communication with your team – Implement 5 minute morning meetings. A simple recap of the previous day and update on goal/project status will undoubtedly encourage your team to be actively engaged, ask questions, and ultimately increase their productivity.
- Job Descriptions – This should be standard practice with every person you hire. A detailed job description outlining performance expectations and duties of that position. Not only does this help you to maintain an organized structure, but also eliminates confusion for staff as to what responsibilities lie with whom.
- Regular Reviews – Annual at a minimum, semi-annual would be best. Undoubtedly, the world around us will continue to evolve, as will our business operations. Why would we expect our staff members to evolve for us, without recognition or compensation. At each review, job duties and performance evaluations should be thoroughly reviewed. Continue to open the door for communication with your team as you complete your review. When your team goes above and beyond their job duties for the betterment of the company, reward them appropriately. Give them a 4 day weekend, a bonus, or a raise. Closely analyze those tasks that they went above and beyond with and determine if that work load is sustainable long term. If not, hire someone, delegate to someone else, or consider outsourcing.
- Consider offering flex scheduling, or remote opportunities – Do your employees need to work 8 hour days, Monday through Friday, or can they work four 10’s? Does your right-hand repair guy need to be on call every single night, or can you create a rotating scheduling? Does your administrative staff need to be in the office every day, or can they work remotely? I understand that flexible scheduling does not work for every situation, but there is no reason the most demanding tasks can’t be dispersed.
- Outsource – Rather than weighing down your team with new or additional tasks – consider outsourcing. There are countless options from independent contractors to well established corporations who specialize in whatever you need. Often at a rate much less than hiring a new full time employee.
You can ditch the Help Wanted signs when you truly begin to invest in your team. At the end of the day, fighting burnout starts with leadership. I want to encourage you to engage with your team. Only then, will you see the areas that need to be addressed. Only then, will you be capable of implementing effective changes and strengthen the core of your team.