As staffing professionals, we are acutely aware of the volatility in the employment and labor market. We hear about it from clients who are struggling to find, hire and retain good employees. We see it in our interactions with job seekers, a group that is more vocal than ever in terms of their expectations. And we see it in our own companies. Our industry certainly is not immune to the turnover taking place in seemingly every industry and company.
This year, more than ever, there are many factors, concerns, and considerations affecting people and their approach to work and working. Some people are leaving jobs primarily because they are offered a much higher salary. Others are taking positions that allow them to work remotely a hundred percent of the time. And there are some employees who are quitting without a new job lined up because they want to take some time off and reassess their lives in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For these reasons and others, we’re still in a very different and evolving period as we move into the second half of 2021. The word I have been using to describe the world we live in today is “unsteady.” And if there is one thing I have learned after decades of hiring people for our company and recruiting candidates for clients, it is that almost all employees want stability and steadiness from their employer more than just about anything else.
With that in mind, we recently held an offsite management meeting with the theme, “Steady state in unsteady times,” to talk about what we as a company should do to make sure we are functioning as steadily as possible for all our stakeholders. A key takeaway was that while it may be necessary to adopt new approaches or adjust certain aspects relative to our business and operations based on this unique moment in time, it was important that we remain as committed as ever to our fundamental tenets.
Simply put, to ensure that employees and others recognize that our company in fact is in a steady state, we need to demonstrate steadiness in all our words and, most importantly, actions. Here are three guiding principles we are adhering to, now more than ever:
- Be prepared to walk away. None of us wants to lose a good employee or revenue opportunity, but once you are convinced that you have made a fair, reasonable, and mutually-beneficial offer you do need to be prepared to walk away if you cannot come to an agreement.
- Stay within the guardrails. As with the previous point, we want to be as flexible, adaptable, and accommodating as possible with requests from employees or candidates; at the same time, it is essential that we have established guardrails that we stay within so that people know we are applying them equitably.
- Get closer to people. All things being generally equal, it is still true that people are firing their bosses and not the company when they decide to leave. Making time to actively listen to and engage with team members and acting on what they tell you whenever you can, is a top priority for every supervisor.
Predicting what is next is more difficult than ever. And there are seemingly more factors impacting our businesses that are out of our control. Focusing on what we can control by making decisions and implementing practices through the lens of achieving a steady state can yield benefits in practically every area of your company.