Numbers continue to flood the internet, attempting to capture our attention on the heavy burden the constriction in the market has caused.
The numbers paint a dim picture
- 30 million unemployment claims
- 14% unemployment
This is not fake news. Families are being affected, businesses are struggling to navigate this economic storm. For anyone caught in the economic downsizing, these numbers are harsh and real.
However, the market has not been flooded with 30 million technical specialists, accountants or engineers. When Enron collapsed, shredding its corporate office in Houston, we experienced a market freeze as 4000 people were laid off on a Friday afternoon. The perception was there was a flood of people to select from to fill roles. While there was a large talent pool that was created, the market quickly absorbed the top high demand performers as there were not 4000 accountants, 4000 engineers, 4000 IT specialists.
So, as leaders, what numbers should we be focused on? Here are some to consider. Gallop has just released a study that shows 54% of the people surveyed are re-evaluating their current situation. The period of pause we have been battling has caused talent at all levels to reflect on whether their roles and responsibilities truly meet their wants and needs. A massive reset button has been created, not just for our businesses but more importantly for those who have chosen to work for us.
An additional report shows that over 45% responded they felt their current employer did not understand how COVID-19 and the shift to work from home and to school from home has impacted them. This adds fuel to the statistic that before COVID-19 only 20% of the workforce felt truly engaged while 64% of the workforce felt disengaged. In the third category, 16% had quit their job but had not bothered to tell anyone yet.
As leaders we can’t fall into the trap I’ve witnessed in past downturns of developing the attitude “they should feel lucky they have a job.” The future of your company lies in the talent of the people who choose to follow you and how they choose to apply it.
Engaging and retaining our talent has to be our highest priority. Having Zoom social happy hours to stimulate connection has served its purpose. Yet, as we reset with the reopening of company offices, the true number we need to focus on is the number 1. How are we connecting, one person at a time? Are you slowing down, making the five-minute water cooler conversation more specific, more intentional? Have you turned job descriptions into causes that people can rally around? Have you made the mistake that most leaders make of charging into battle rather than devoting time to explain the why behind projects or job descriptions? Security is a tremendous driver. What truly anchors security and ignites performance is being seen of value.
Check out this video comment by thought leader Jenifer Lambert, on this important subject:
The second priority is to develop a strategy on determining if you have anyone who is in the third stage mentioned above. Now is the time to review and make the difficult decisions of evaluating those who you have been working around rather than the difficult decision of drafting new players. Positions that were difficult to fill ninety days ago need to be readdressed, a new hiring strategy developed. The talent pool now has A players who are hitting the reset button, opening their minds up to new opportunities that may better address their goals and desires. For some, security has been shaken by either the economic condition of their company or dissatisfaction of how leadership is driving the ship. Others have moved from being comfortable with workarounds to “it’s time to fix what ails me.” You won’t find busloads of candidates but strategic recruiting campaigns may now produce results.
The talent pool has shifted from where it was only sixty days ago. The questions you, as a leader, need to reflect on is has is expanded with people on my team that I don’t want to lose? And what additional or different talent make a major difference in productivity and efficiency?
Don’t get caught up in the debate over fake news. There is important information being reported that impacts our companies, families, and society. My question for you is where is your focus?