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My thoughts on “The Great Resignation”

Over half Americans will be looking for a new job this year. Sales professionals all across the board are turning over at a record high. This headline of this MSN article tells the story: The Great Resignation is Here. We are in a state of the great resignation (a term that was coined in 2019), and I think the author Phillip Kane is spot on. This article really highlights everything that sales professionals are experiencing. Whether you’re in leadership or you’re an employee, you are experiencing the challenges of being successful post COVID. This week I want to talk about this article and share my thoughts.

Why turnover matters

It doesn’t matter if you’re a big company or a small one, company turnover is expensive. Turnover was a problem a few years ago already, when the labor force reported that a millennial sales professional would be looking for a new job after only two years at an existing one. Job hopping is socially acceptable, and that gets expensive for companies because customer retention suffers when we don’t have employee retention. And it’s not as simple as picking up new employees when you turn over old ones. The job market is more challenging than ever because all employees are being more selective about where they want to spend their time. With all this in mind, if you’re not worried, if you’re not wondering how can I retain my talent? How can I prevent people within my organization from wanting to leave? Then you’re missing the boat.

People over profit

From the article on MSN, Philip goes on and says whether due to a fear for personal safety, a lack of fair treatment, having to deal with a horrible boss, or an inadequate work life balance, those fleeing that might be viewed as perfectly good jobs are simply choosing to put themselves first for a change.

“Whether due to a fear for personal safety, a lack of fair treatment, having to deal with a horrible boss, or an inequitable work-life balance, those fleeing what might be viewed as perfectly good jobs are simply choosing to put themselves first for a change. Employers who beat them to the punch by taking steps to create environments where associates feel safe, valued, and more empowered to make their own scheduling choices stand a great chance of keeping these employees. And when I say environment, I’m not talking about bean bags and ping-pong tables.”

Yes, Philip Yes, Yes, yes. He references this article from Fast Company “The Era Wacky Office Perks is Dead.” I totally agree with the author on this. Sales professionals, if you are in a company where you’re feeling this way, you’re not alone. Sales leadership, here’s a solution. The author talks about caring, but I’m going to take that a step further and say you have to empathize. It is one thing to care and show care for your employees, to take the time to demonstrate that you care for their general well being. About a year ago, I published an article out that said ‘people over profit.’ I got some negative feedback and positive feedback, but I believe it now more than ever.  COVID has put people in unprecedented circumstances across the board. It is one step to care. It is a second step to empathize. You have to take every action you make as a sales leader and realize the things that were once important before may not be as important to your employees. They are concerned. They have children going to school. There is a COVID variant that is scary. The entire west coast is on fire. When you listen to the news, it seems like the world is crumbling beneath our feet. If you continue to manage the way you did before COVID, not taking steps to empathize with your employees, the great resignation is coming to your doorstep.

The writing is on the wall

It won’t matter if you’re running a big profitable company. It doesn’t matter if your product is the best out there. The writing is on the wall. It’s not just you, your industry or your company. It’s across the board. Americans are taking a step back right now and deciding to put themselves ahead of their employer. Those angry emails that come in at night. The phone calls that happen early in the AM. The challenges of working in a difficult environment. Employees are feeling vulnerable and reassessing their priorities and they are asking themselves “Is it really worth the aggravation anymore?” They’re now willing to take the risk of going to a one-income household. They are dipping into their savings to take time off. They are taking a chance on themselves and starting that business they always dreamed of.

If you can develop an environment where you’re caring and empathizing with your employees, you have a better shot at retaining your top talent. But it’s going to take more than that. The article touches on this and I want to elaborate on it. Leadership has to acknowledge that the problem is real. The leaders have to openly admit that they have to radically shit the way they treat their employees. I can’t tell you how any times companies go to hire consulting firms and execution isn’t the problem; it’s the leadership. The leaders have to change their mindset and change the way they focus on their business. You need to be ready to look in the mirror and ask yourself ‘is what I am doing today in the best interest of the people that work for me?” If the answer is anything but yes, then you’re doing something wrong. If what you’re doing is in the interest of profits, not  people, you’re going to find it’ll be more challenging than ever to retain your top talent. I know some people will say I’m crazy. That the main goal is to make money and make the business successful. But I believe the most successful business has the happiest employees. The most successful companies have the sales team that is most excited to be there. You want your employees to be happy to be part of your team, and in order to do that, sometimes you have to take a little slice off the profits and put the people first.

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