You’re a manager and you are facing unspeakable challenges. In the face of a global pandemic and resulting staffing shortages, you are still expected to continue offering services, reaching goals, and serving your clients. Burnout looms as you push yourself to cover the gaps, working long and exhausting hours. You are starting to question your competence and are stressed like never before.
There are many reasons why employees may be exiting your organization. These are challenging times and the impacts on your team and working conditions are immense. How sick are you of hearing the word, “pivot”? If you pivot anymore, you’ll collapse from dizziness. Enough with the pivot dance moves. Bring on solutions to cope.
What to do to manage the “great resignation”?
STRATEGY #1: Measure current employee engagement levels.
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for you to have baseline information indicating the current degree to which your employees are engaged. This type of research will indicate your organization’s strengths and opportunities for improvement, as seen through the eyes of your employees. When done properly, it allows for unbiased and honest opinions.
There are several ways to gather this information, all of them involving primary research of some sort. A client of mine recently engaged me to conduct an online survey of their 200 employees followed by online focus groups to determine the degree of employee engagement. The results set the groundwork for that client’s annual workplans and multi-year strategies. They now know what strengths to leverage and areas to improve. One caution about hiring out studies:
- If you choose to contract this piece out, be sure to work with a trained professional who knows about marketing research and how to analyze the results so you aren’t making decisions on inaccurate data. The quality of the results you get is only as good as the research methodology, instrument, and data interpretation. Make sure you get someone with marketing research expertise.
If you don’t have a budget to contract out the work, you can definitely do it in-house with the following caution:
- Make sure you’re using a valid and reliable measurement tool. That is, the questions you use need to be unbiased and actually ask what you want them to. Dedicate the appropriate amount of planning time both before the research is done and the time afterward to properly slice, dice, and analyze the results. Useful data reports take time and expertise to prepare.
STRATEGY #2: Use the feedback employees offer.
Some of the responses you get may be shocking. Brace yourself. When employees are given a communication vehicle to share their honest opinions, some can be harsh, critical, and less than diplomatic. Dig through any caustic comments and find the seed of truth you can use. Look for patterns and common themes, both positive and negative. When unrelated parties are saying the same thing, listen up.
Once you’ve noted both your organization’s strengths and growth areas, determine which ones you will act upon. Here are some questions that will help you move this pile of data to action:
- What defined strengths will you leverage and how?
- What growth areas will you correct?
- What is the potential positive “impact” of each of the suggestions given?
- What is the potential negative impact of concerns that remain unaddressed?
- What is the “cost” of addressing those concerns or leveraging those strengths?
Focus on the points that will have the greatest positive impact on keeping your employees engaged, while minimizing cost for implementation. That’s the easy-hanging fruit waiting for you to pick.
STRATEGY #3: Let your employees know you’re using their input.
When you seek their input, your employees feel valued having a chance to express their suggestions and concerns only if they know you are acting on the information they have provided.
Sadly, this critical communication step is often overlooked when managers ask for employee input of any kind. Even though you may be working furiously to implement suggestions, your employees don’t know this unless you tell them.
Therefore, make a communication plan part of your employee engagement project to ensure that you keep your employees in the loop. Doing so not only increases their engagement, it builds trust, buys loyalty, and boosts their buy-in you will need for successful implementation.
Using some of the input your employees make also bodes well for next time you ask for feedback or input. Your employees will be more prone to participate willingly when they know their suggestions are seriously considered with some being implemented.
STRATEGY #4: Involve employees in solutions to fill your staffing shortages.
Activating encouraging employees to develop solutions is an amazing way to create employee engagement. Share with your employees some of your challenges because they may have solutions that would elude you. Let them know where the gaps in staffing exist and engage them in helping to fill those gaps in the following ways:
- Your employees are conduits for new employees. Maybe they know someone who would be perfect for the area hurting for employees. They can use their own personal contacts. You could implement an employee referral program of some sort with the incentive being anything from a simple thank you note or recognition to an award, prize, or financial incentive.
- Use these gaps as employee training and succession planning opportunities. Instead of looking externally, is there someone in your organization right now who could “act” in your vacant positions? This could be a wonderful mentoring or job enhancement opportunity for a very willing internal candidate taken from an area less impacted by staffing shortages.
What to do next.
Even if you don’t do a full-blown study, keep it simple and ask your employees for suggestions of what they like about working at your organization and improvements they would love to see. It’s not anonymous and it carries biase but if you view the responses knowingly through that lens, you can unearth out some great insights and suggestions for the way forward.
I’d love to hear if you are grappling with staffing shortages and solutions you have found to manage your situation. Please post below. Communicating with each other is the first step to finding solutions.
©2022 Marion Grobb Finkelstein (MarionSpeaks)
Marion Grobb Finkelstein
Keynote Speaker / Corporate Trainer / Author
Recipient of APEX “Award for Leadership in Service Innovation”
SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube videos at YouTube.com/MarionSpeaks