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Workforce Development

As things pick up, be wary of the other shoe…

Whether or not you think that the state is in recovery mode, as an employer the next shoe is about to drop. And it has nothing to do with taxes or healthcare. As the unemployment rate drops, voluntary turnover will increase and talent will continue to be scarce. As we learned with double digit unemployment, talent is scarce no matter what the economic conditions are.

The vast majority of employees elect to stay with their present employer during an economic downturn. With reduced employment opportunities workers opt to remain in a less than perfect situation that supplies a paycheck. But availability is only one of the (and not the primary) reasons that people voluntarily leave their position.

Job dissatisfaction is the main reason people voluntarily leave their job. When satisfaction decreases, people begin to evaluate their options. As the economy picks up, the options increase. The chart below is from the Deloitte Review article, “Where Did Our Employees Go?” and implies that voluntary turnover will most likely increase as the economy recovers.

Quit Level
Now is the time to take action to prevent your employees from walking out the door. Employers need to be careful not to alienate their workforce. First out the door will be the essential employee who has had additional work piled on him and is feeling underappreciated. Don’t forget that your best employees can find jobs elsewhere. They are capable of succeeding anywhere and the first to be recruited in a turnaround. They are vulnerable to your competition.
Communicate with them. Be honest with them. There is a lot of insecurity and anxiety when others are being let go around you. Creating trust between employers and employees can prevent a rise in voluntary turnover rates. Identify your most valuable employees and take care of them. Without them you will struggle through both the short term and the long term. And make sure that they know what your focus is—taking care of your best customers, seeking out new markets, etc. Does everyone in your organization know what the mission is?

Mitigating the stress and anxiety caused by an economic downturn can go a long way in retaining the employees that you want (and need) to keep. While employee engagement might be low on the priority list it can have an impact on your company’s future performance and health. Deloitte has a great point/counterpoint debate outlining both sides of preventing voluntary turnover. Click here to review the full document.

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