A new phenomenon is affecting the construction business—and it's called the Great Resignation or the Big Quit.
In early 2021, people began leaving their jobs in droves. In fact, Fortune magazine reported that 4.5 million employees quit their jobs in November alone and that followed over 12 million others who quit during the months of August through October!
What about this is important to you?
We haven't talked to a contractor, or any other business owner for that matter, in ages who doesn’t report their No. 1 challenge is hiring people. Additionally, news sources report that about 50% of people are considering job changes right now.
Think about that—half your people might be considering leaving you in the very near future! That's frightening!
McKinsey did a study where they asked both employers AND employees the same question: Why are people leaving their jobs? You'll be struck by the dichotomy between the employer and employee responses.
How did employers answer the question?
- Work-life balance
- Employees were in poor physical or psychological health anyway
How did employees answer?
- Don’t feel valued by my company
- Don't feel valued by my manager (a very close second)
- Don't feel a sense of belonging at work.
Employers pointed to tangible things: Money, health, or work-life balance. Employees talked about soft subjects: Not feeling valued and not feeling a sense of belonging. The almost opposite responses offer a stark contrast. Employers think they know their people, but they just don't!
How can you combat the Great Resignation? How can you get your people to look at you as an employer of choice where they want to stay and be part of your business family?
First, get all-hands-on-deck right now! I mean now, yesterday hopefully.
Get on top of this because in a worker shortage the worst thing that can happen to you is that your better people leave.
That's got to be terrifying; you've got opportunity after opportunity, and suddenly you're unable to staff jobs in a way that provides for clean execution. That is a contractor’s nightmare. Act now! Get together with your team, figure out what you're doing right, what you're doing wrong, and grab this bull by the horns and move!
Second, make employee retention your top goal. Hanging on to your quality people is more important than ever because they're so immensely difficult to replace. Hanging on to even marginal people is more important than ever! You've all seen the statistics about how much it costs to replace a departed employee. The costs, including opportunity costs, are outrageous now.
Third, ask your people what they want. One of my consultants sent me a 70-page white paper about the “perfect incentive" and they had all kinds of data to back up their claims. Basically, they concluded that hunting and fishing trips for project managers and superintendents were the cat’s pajamas. But what if your project managers or foremen don't hunt or they have young kids at home and can't afford to be away for days at a time? Zig Ziglar used to say that you can get anything you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want. Take the simple step of asking your employees what they want, and, if it's humanly possible, help them get it.
Fourth, work on your managers. The number one skill that managers lack is, you guessed it, communication! Get them communication training. Family Business Institute’s Mike Flentje says the difference between managers and leaders is that managers manage tasks while leaders lead and inspire people. Do you see the difference? Work on your managers and help them improve their communication especially the thing they lack the most: LISTENING SKILLS.
Fifth, connect! We write about the importance of strategic plans all the time. What we don't talk about is the day-to-day act of connecting the 30,000-foot strategic plan and its mission, vision, values, and goals to the jobs your employees perform. Your accounts payable clerk, for example, may have a hard time understanding how her job connects to the company's mission or values. You may have to demonstrate how the connection works and evangelize how every job, no matter how routine, contributes to the mission and how everyone on the team is important. A technique we've learned from our peer groups and Boot Camp classes is that some leaders go out and buy a bunch of gift cards. When they see someone exemplifying the company’s values, they reward them on the spot. They then trumpet and evangelize the behaviors that the person represented and how they helped connect to the mission or vision. Give spot rewards to your employees and then talk about them until you're blue in the face so that other people begin to get it too.
Finally, think about your employees differently. Brian Tracy said that every individual is really the CEO of his or her own personal service company. Every one of your employees can literally take their personal service company, walk across the street tomorrow, and sell those services to your competitor. Think about your employees as the CEOs of their own small companies and view them as peer small business owners with opportunities too.
The Great Resignation is a real thing, and every contractor needs a proactive strategy for attracting and retaining your most valuable asset—your people.