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A Closer Look at Why Your Co-Workers Are Quitting

A Closer Look at Why Your Co-Workers Are Quitting

The August unemployment report contained some interesting news. Thanks to a strong economy, the country added more than 201,000 jobs during the 31 day period. That’s almost 6,500 jobs a day. The 3.9% unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since 2000.

On top of that, the Labor Department reported the average hourly pay jumped nearly one half of a percent in August, making the average hourly pay nearly 3 percent higher than it was in August of 2017. That’s the largest annual gain in 10 years.

“It looks like we’re finally seeing that acceleration in wage growth that we’ve been waiting for,” said Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Financial Services, told the Associated Press. “It’s good news for workers’ paychecks, it’s good news for consumers and it’s good news for the overall economy.” Economists are also saying employers are reacting to the low unemployment numbers by offering higher pay because they are forced to compete in an expanding job market.

“I view this as the strongest job market in a generation,” Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at Glassdoor, a career website told the Associated Press.

But you have to go to the JOLTS (Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary) Report provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to get a better picture of the job market. Admittedly, the JOLTS report comes out slower than the monthly unemployment reports, but they are incredibly accurate and they show a different view of the job market.

In July of this year (the latest available report came out September 11 with the July figures)  shows there were 6,900,000 job openings on July 31st. Six million, nine hundred thousand. The Bureau of Labor statistics says that is a new, all-time high. In case you thought there weren’t a lot of open jobs where you live, the report shows 2.4 million job openings in the South region, 1.42 million in the Midwest, 1.4 million in the West, and 1.1 million in the East. There are a lot of open jobs.

And, there are a lot of people interested in those open jobs. During the 31 days of July, 3.6 million employees quit their jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics describes the “quits” statistics as “separations initiated by the employee.” Breaking that number down, the 3.6 million quits means every day during the month of July, more than 116,000 people walked into their bosses office with a resignation letter. The economy is so strong, people are not afraid to leave one job for another, or leave one job just to explore the possibility of finding another.

There was a time when we would look at people who are leaving a job without having another one lined up and think that was crazy. This August, my son was one of those 116,000 people who went to his boss with a resignation letter but no other job. I about lost my mind. Five days later, he had another job. The reality is, this is a reality. People are quitting their jobs because they believe there is something better out there. Better pay. Better quality of life. Better culture. Better future opportunities. Just better.

Those people who are quitting might be right. The key to your success is to make them want to stay.

You might think of this as an opportunity. If good people are looking for jobs, and your good people are leaving, maybe you can actually see some improvement with the turnover. But remember this—you invested in the person who left. You did the training. You built the relationship. You know them. They know your systems, and bringing in someone new, no matter how much industry experience they have, means starting a lot of that all over again.

Meanwhile, we are in the middle of a booming construction economy, and we are busy. Let’s face it, we can’t afford to have someone walking around the office with a resignation letter right now.

Moving away from the obvious (better pay, work-life balance, providing a 401k) there are some things you should be doing to keep your best employees. They are also the key things your employees are looking for in any job they have.

First, promote your employees when it is appropriate, not when it’s time for their annual review. Just this year alone, tED magazine had to change two of our “30 Under 35” awards because winners who were nominated in March were promoted before we handed out the awards in July. If you want all of your employees to know that you are seeing their best work, you can do it by announcing promotions on a regular basis.

Second, let them know they are a part of your future, so they have to help you shape it. Encourage them to be creative in their everyday efforts, and pick their brains when it comes to how you want to have your company adapt to a changing, more millennial-based customer base.

And third, you need to talk with them. Once a month for 15 minutes is plenty. Listen to what they have to say, and let them know what you think of their work. One of the best meetings I ever had was with an old boss who opened the conversation with “what am I doing wrong?” Having the open communication will keep your co-workers engaged in the process toward success.

Take a few minutes and look for one of those 6.9 million job openings out there right now. It’s your job to make your business more attractive than all of them. No small task, but it beats having open positions for months at a time.



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Scott Costa, Publisher, tED magazine

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