Your employees will leave; here's how to embrace turnover

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Your employees will leave; here's how to embrace turnover

Does luck shine on us randomly or can it be created? In today’s hypercompetitive labour market, with employee turnover bubbling up in every corner of the organisation, it’s hard not to feel a bit unlucky. We feel as if we’re doing everything right, but Lady Luck has simply dealt us a bad hand.

However, self-professed lucky people tend to view luck a bit differently. Lucky people are open to new experiences and are more willing to try new things. Their exploration increases their likelihood of a lucky opportunity. Lucky people are also optimistic, so even when things take a turn for the worse, they can spot the good in a situation. In other words, luck is often a matter of perspective.

So, perhaps if we want to turn our luck around when it comes to talent, we should take on a new, glass-half-full perspective. Turnover has its benefits. Employees who get stuck in a role or within an organisation can experience skill stagnation and decreased satisfaction with working arrangements that they once found exciting.

Ultimately, organisations benefit from turnover too, because disengaged employees are less productive and less healthy, both physically and psychologically.

Want to feel lucky? Then explore new approaches 

Embracing a high-turnover future isn’t about giving up or embracing bad luck, it’s about changing our perspective and finding luck in our new circumstances. It’s just going to require exploring new approaches:

Stop hiring reflexively. Put down the job description and take a breath. Consider: why are people leaving this role? Is it a perceived lack of career opportunity? Is it poor management and coaching? Also, take a moment to take stock of the tasks owned by this role. Could they be automated? Could they be optimised or simplified? Open requisitions offer us an opportunity to reflect on how to improve the quality and purpose of a role.

Focus on skills-based hiring, rather than location-based or credential-based hiring. This will allow you to uncover unconventional or hidden talent sources. Unconventional talent pools might include underrepresented talent; contingent, part-time, redeployed or outsourced employees; those from different functions or industries; upskilled, self-taught or freelance workers:

Hire for the team, not the job. Supply chain leaders tend to backfill for open roles and in doing so are often hiring for the same skills that already exist within the team. In today’s environment, we cannot feasibly build a team of “unicorns,” but we can, and should, build a “unicorn team.” Focus hiring on backfilling for skills that are missing from the team or might be needed in the future. You might also remove the hiring manager from the process and organise hiring committees that are knowledgeable and laser-focused on team skill gaps.

View knowledge management and onboarding as table stakes. Turnover presents the issue of knowledge loss. Identify highest risk knowledge areas (e.g., employees who are retiring, disengaged or critical) and establish roles to own knowledge management activities (e.g., knowledge generation, refinement and storage). Also, your onboarding shouldn’t be a firehose of information. Instead, shift to an agile approach to learning; focus on iterative, just-in-time learning interventions that are tied to business outcomes.

Design for the boomerang. In a high-turnover environment, we’ll see shorter tenures but we’re also more likely to see the return of prior employees. Advise existing employees where they can go to find opportunities to round out their skills and build re-entry options into offboarding processes. Develop a supply chain alumni network to keep in touch with former employees and partner with HR to develop “fast cycle” return processes to enable those employees to return more easily.

Build internal and cross-company career paths. It’s time for supply chain organisations to get creative when it comes to career pathing. Where we have exhausted our promotion of internal career paths, why not seek to engage ecosystem partners in driving talent mobility between organisations? Suppliers, external manufacturers or logistics providers, retailers, consulting firms and even academia could serve as partners in creating cross-company career opportunities.

Explore the connection between life phases and career phases. Build flexible career paths that allow for different types of roles at different stages, rather than a linear, always-increasing set of responsibilities. Design roles for employees as they pass through life stages (for example, parenthood, elder care and preretirement).

Capitalise on fresh ideas. New recruits bring new perspectives, but they’re only valuable if we are able to execute on them. As part of your project proposal or innovation processes, expand decision options to include, “yes,” “no” and “safe to try.” The “safe to try” option means a lack of disagreement is permission to move forward. Stakeholders no longer need to think a proposal is perfect and can instead consent to give it a try.

Free up people managers by empowering employee decision-making. Managers need more time to recruit, onboard, develop and performance manage their people. To free up time, managers will need to define what good decision-making looks like and model this for their teams. Shift leadership incentives to ones that are focused on delegation and coaching.

In order to explore these new approaches, we’ll need a new perspective. But imagine what is possible for us in a world where our question about new recruits isn’t, “How quickly can they learn my supply chain?” but “How quickly can they change my supply chain?”

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