Quitting Is on the Rise: How to Retain Quality Employees

According to a recent article on Monster.com, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in October that the number of employees voluntarily quitting their jobs had eclipsed the number terminated through layoffs and other types of discharges. As we come out of a long recession, the job market is changing–which is, of course, a good thing–and more opportunities are opening up for worthy candidates. That means that there may be more choices for job-seekers but also a greater need for employers to inspire, engage and retain quality talent. Whereas a couple of years ago in the midst of the Great Recession, we could say to our staffers, “Well, really we should all just feel lucky to have a job,” nowadays that rationale no longer works. Across the board, people are being asked to do more with less and, now that the market is improving, we need to make those folks feel valued and recognized for their hard work.

According to a recent study by HR consultancy Right Management, four out of every five workers are planning to, or at least contemplating, leaving their current employer. Hiring and training employees is time- and money-intensive so it’s vital to focus on retaining quality people so they don’t leave for other opportunities.
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DON’T PUT YOUR CAREER ON ICE THIS WINTER

The weather across the country had turned colder…and so has the job market. Recent stats took even the White House by surprise. According to the recently released numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate edged up to 9.8 percent and the number of unemployed persons was 15.1 million in November. Scary. But, what can you do to keep warm during this extended and early freeze?

Hatch a plan.

In “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” Alice asks the Cheshire Cat, “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” to which he responds, “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”  When she says, “I don’t much care where,” the Cat points out, “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”  Take a lesson from Lewis Carroll’s heroine: Think about what your goals are during this (seemingly) long cold employment period and start breaking down how you’d like to accomplish them. It could be as simple as hanging on to your job; it could be slightly more difficult (i.e. getting a raise). For the former, work on ways to be your own best publicist in the workplace (for example, by volunteering to work on additional projects). For the latter, start compiling evidence of the ways you add value or how you’ve saved–or made–the company money through the work you’ve done.

Help others to help yourself.
You know the saying “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”? Consider a different perspective: Do something nice for others and they will likely be more apt to do something nice for you. For example, if someone you know is a fledgling graphic designer, recommend them for a project.  At a minimum, they’ll remember you.  More importantly, perhaps you’ll come to mind when they come across an opportunity that would be good for you. Given that the majority of job leads and new business come through people you know, it’s smart to increase the odds.

Keep calm and carry on.
When faced with a winter of discontent, an important thing to remember is that it will ultimately turn to spring, even if it doesn’t feel that way. Take stock of what is going right in your life: family, friends, job, bank account, puppy, etc. At the risk of sounding too Holly Golightly, it’s always good to look at the bright side.  There’s always someone worse off than you.  While we don’t wish an unfortunate situation on anyone, it may put your own in perspective and stop you from wallowing, particularly if you are sinking into the “woe is me” portion of the broadcast.

Instead, enjoy the holidays with friends and family, have a cup of eggnog, relax and then as the New Year arrives, think about your career resolutions for the year ahead so you can start fresh and confident about what you want to accomplish in 2011.

What are you doing to keep your options warm in this cold snap? Tell us on Facebook or Twitter (@BestPublicist).

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WHAT’S YOUR (RESUME) STORY?

It’s not news that workers today feel the need to jump around to get the money, experience or accolades they desire (and feel that they deserve). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median years a person stays in one job is 4.1 years (2008) and an average person will have to have 7-10 jobs over their careers.

Given that today’s workplace narrative has shifted from a loyalty tale to one where varied experience is king, your resume should be crafted to reflect who you are and where you want to go.  And, perhaps more importantly, when you walk into an interview, knowing how to share your resume story will be crucial to locking in any new opportunity.

Do you flit or sit?

FLIT: If you’re a “Butterfly” (i.e. candidates that have a long list of positions on their resume, each held for only a year or two), it begs the question: If the candidate is hired and the time (and money!) is spent on training, will he/she stick around long enough to make it worthwhile for the company?

SIT: On the flip side, maybe you’re more like a “Beagle” — someone who has been at the same company for years, who has demonstrated loyalty and dedication.   The one watch out: You may be seen as set in your ways or not as tapped into what’s happen in the current marketplace.

Whoever you are, when walking into a job interview, you should be prepared with a strong story about why you did/did not make the jumps:

  • Have you stuck it out at your company for a long time? Talk about qualities like loyalty and commitment and the opportunities that have been offered to you.  Come ready to share stories about your various victories and accolades earned.
  • Do you move around every few years? Focus on sharing the evolution of your experience and what that varied background can add to a potential employer.  Underscore your interest in finding a place to learn and grow for a while.
  • Are there gaps in your work experience?  It’s not unusual in today’s economy to have some gaps.  Maybe there were layoffs or shifts in directions that created the need to separate from your employer.   No worries, just make sure you’re prepared to talk about alternative experience (e.g. volunteering, school, externships) and that you can explain simply/easily why you and the companies in question parted ways.

Tell us, do you relate more to the butterfly or beagle?  What’s the story that you’ll tell to a potential employer about your work experiences?   Share your thoughts with us on Facebook or Twitter (@bestpublicist).