The past couple of years have presented us with a bunch of new concepts in the post-COVID workforce. The first was the Big Quit, with around 20% of workers planning to quit their jobs in 2022. And more recently, Quiet Quitting, where workers don’t actually quit their jobs, but instead do the bare minimum of work. required. to keep their employers happy, without putting in a minute of extra effort. For me, those are the two problems with employers, not employees. Because if employees were truly happy, respected, and engaged in their jobs, they wouldn’t feel the need to quit their jobs, either outright or in their mindset while continuing to work. This article will help us diagnose if you have any issues to address in your business, to help stem this tide.
A couple of disgruntled workers as a case study
Let’s look at a few industries where quitting seems to be at an all-time high: K-12 education and restaurants. These are two industries that I know well, with my wife a 2n/a teacher and I own a business serving the restaurant industry. In both of these industries, it’s pretty clear to me why people are leaving; they are asked to work hard with very little reward, when it is so much easier for them to change industries and earn much more money elsewhere. Not to mention the dysfunction of these types of companies, without much means for their new ideas to be heard or put into practice, where the companies are poorly managed, often with a lot of bureaucracy. Why would anyone want to work in this environment? Anyone who does it is because they feel they have no other options based on their skills or because it is simply their passion project to give back to their community, without making compensation or job satisfaction its ultimate drivers. Which is not a good position for the employee or the employer.
So how to solve this problem? We start with the common sense that 20% of workers don’t quit the entire workforce, they quit you!! There must be something you are doing that they are unhappy with that needs to be fixed. It could be something like low levels of pay, their mundane day-to-day tasks, your company culture, lack of upward job mobility, a bad boss, lack of job flexibility, or whatever. So if you’re experiencing high levels of employee turnover or engagement, it’s time to look in the mirror and start auditing everything you do, with a post-COVID mindset of what the employees are looking for. Let’s dig a little deeper.
Investigate compensation levels
Going back to our case study above, can restaurant workers really earn a living wage at $15 an hour? That’s only $30,000 a year, in a world where inflation is out of this world. After taxes, that’s only about $2,000 a month. Let’s say half of that goes to cover their rent, and the other half, $33 a day, is left over to cover all their other living expenses. This calculation simply does not work. Not to mention they have to be at work in person, while all their other friends get more flexible jobs that allow them to work from home.
And the same for teachers. They teach our children and prepare the future of our country. It disgusts me that movie stars and athletes make $25 million a year, and teachers start at about $50,000 to do a ton of work, deal with hostile parents, and work in dysfunctional workplaces where the rules change every year. Enough already, teachers need more respect and a material increase in salaries to justify these working conditions. As a society, we need to better value the roles they play and all contribute with slightly higher property tax bills.
So what does this mean for you? Stop thinking about your industry in a vacuum and stop using historical compensation levels as a baseline. You might need a drastic salary increase to retain and attract new talent in today’s market. And employees will seek work in other industries if they are unhappy with the pay levels in your company or industry. So when you’re looking at the average salary per role, do it across all industries. And I didn’t talk about researching benefits here, but you should also do that to make sure you’re in tune with the market. A good benefits management company can help you compare yourself to other employers.
If you determine that you cannot profitably afford to increase your salary at the market rate, you may have a material problem on your hands. But hopefully raising your prices, to better afford you market rate wages, will help fund those increases. Lord knows my restaurant bills have gone up as restaurants pay their staff more in an effort to retain them. But if price increases are not digestible by your customers, you may have to face the harsh reality that your business model may be broken and not survive without a significant change in model metrics.
Study job flexibility
Thanks to COVID, everyone prefers a more flexible work environment, starting with the ability to work from home. So don’t get stuck in the Stone Age, forcing everyone to be in the office every day. This will give staff more flexibility to save on travel time, parking costs, gas costs, car costs, etc. and will allow them to be closer to their families to care for their children or attend their local school events or other get-togethers. You don’t have to “see” them to know if they are doing a good job. You’ll see their success in the data from their work (eg, sales results, tasks completed).
Study corporate culture
If your staff are grumbling behind your back that they work in a “toxic work environment,” you have a major problem on your hands and need to “plug the hole” before the whole “bucket” empties. Survey your staff, either directly or through an HR consultant. Ask them what they like and dislike about the company, then look at your strengths and address your weaknesses. Be sure to calculate your Net Promoter Score from your employees, not just your customers, and shoot to keep that number at 8.5/10 or higher.
You may like one of your managers, who sees you as his boss, but his direct reports may hate him. Be sure to conduct 360-degree reviews of your employees, so they have the opportunity to speak openly about their boss as their performance is reviewed. Nothing will get a person looking for the door faster than being micromanaged, disrespected, or verbally abused by a bad manager. So, you may have to part ways with someone you love, for the greater good.
Study career paths
People want to stay in companies where they can see upward mobility in their career. They’ll give you a few years in their current role, but what happens next? Is your business growing, to create new levels of management in which it can evolve? If so, great. But otherwise, employees may get bored and decide to find a new challenge. So put plans in place, for each role in the company, where they can easily have visibility into how their responsibilities and compensation will grow over time, to give them “hooks” for wanting to keep working. with you for the long term.
Study daily tasks
Nobody wants to work in a job they don’t like. So ask yourself: would you like this job? If not, figure out what it would take to make that job more enjoyable. If it’s eight hours a day of mundane, mind-numbing tasks, find the best way to make the role more challenging, perhaps by sharing mundane tasks among a larger team that performs more strategic tasks for most of his work.
So this concept of the big quit and quit is really rubbish to me, because the focus is on the employees, not the employers. These people have to work to pay their bills. You just need to understand how they will want to work for YOU, and not look for the door looking to work for someone else who values, respects, challenges and motivates them. After doing this internal self-study, if the mirror is not broken, keep up the good work. If you’re looking at a pile of broken glass, it’s time to start from scratch and rethink everything you do.
George Deeb is a partner at Red Rocket Ventures and author of 101 Startup Lessons – Entrepreneur’s Handbook.