In today's episode we talk about the 40% of workers that are planning on leaving their job over the next 12 months and what we can do about it as leaders within our organization.
Episode at a Glance:
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Robert Greiner 0:04
So what's new with you? Man? Were is Igor today. I figured he would bail. He's settling into vacation. He should. Yeah, I might be out of town too. Right.
Charles Knight 0:09
I think so.
Robert Greiner 0:09
In Vegas, have you talked to him?
Charles Knight 0:10
I have not. No, I have not. But okay. You're on the great road trip that they're taking?
Robert Greiner 0:16
Yeah, really cool. I'll text them live. We'll get an answer. If you're listening and are curious where Igor is at? what part of the country? Let's see if he'll respond.
I can't we'll wait till it comes back. And he tells us all, all that they've done. Yeah, definitely.
That guy has been working hard. I'm happy it gets some time off. Yeah, we should turn this into logistic vacation lifestyle, taking time off work podcast, forget your careers. We're about leisure now.
Yes, just take as much time off as you can without getting fired and tell you how to do that. Yeah.
Yeah, to prolong the staying employed until they get tired of letting you take time off. Yeah. Not a good strategy.
But not a good long term strategy. Probably fun in the short term.
Yeah, I do think about that. Sometimes.
Charles Knight 0:47
We care too much, though, to do stuff like that. Maybe not caring is the right term. But
Robert Greiner 0:50
It's easier when you have something that you're coming back to. Yeah, even if you take a prolonged period of time off. I do agree. I think it would be. You see that a lot. People who retire, especially people who retire early, have trouble adjusting and usually end up getting another job again.
Charles Knight 1:04
Yeah, yeah. There was there's somebody that I'm working with, on one of the nonprofit committees and I'm on he's a retired psychologist. So he's had a practice for decades. And he's retired. And so that's where I asked him if he's interested in joining this nonprofit committee that I'm, I'm on. And he's Yeah, I guess it's time for me to take the advice that I've been giving a lot of patients over the years about retirement. And this makes so much sense. But it does seem a little revolutionary, is like, Hey, you are a pie chart. And you spend your time on a variety of different slices. And when you retire, a big slice of the pie is gone. And, and that's what's the hard part is like you can no longer identify as a working person, the strategy is to not just suffer through it and try to it's just like, fill it, fill it intentionally with something else. And he's choosing to fill it with giving back working with nonprofits, and things like that. That seems such simple advice, but may be difficult to do. When you're not sure what opportunities you have to fill it because you've maybe you've never thought about that before.
Robert Greiner 1:55
That wouldn't be obvious to me. And then you just wake up one day and you feel like something's missing, or you feel this tension, but you don't know what it is. Yeah, that's good. You're a pie chart.
Charles Knight 2:04
Your a pie chart? Yeah. Yeah.
Robert Greiner 2:49
So this feeds into I think what we're gonna talk about today, which is attrition, like very hot topic right now. Lots of people are leaving HBr wrote a response article, which I think I sent you, in response to NPR is like, Great resignation, I think they coined the term, which I think is was really kind of pression of them. Because they were early. They broke the story, right? Where they outlined this guy, Jonathan, remote worker, was in a nine to five in work every day. And it's sort of like, yeah, you know, I really like working remote, got my guitar by me, I like the lifestyle, I can still get work done, I'm pretty effective. I don't know that you can be fully effective, fully remote when you're in a hybrid environment, which I want to talk about later, maybe we'll we'll put a pin in that. And then HBr sort of responded and said, You need to be a good company to come from, which is, I think, an interesting perspective, because you've been Microsoft study that said more than 40% of the global workforce is considering leaving their jobs this year. And switching your mindset, I think this is your line of thinking, which is we should make our organization a good place to leave. Like when you leave, you're happy about your experience you're learning and you're going into new job well prepared. So that's a counterintuitive point, though. So I wanted to talk about that. And maybe some of the reasons behind nutrition and, and things like that if you're interested.
Charles Knight 4:11
I am Yeah, man. I'm really interested in this. What is the phrase here?
Robert Greiner 4:15
Let's see the great resignation.
Charles Knight 4:17
No that one would be a good company to come from, which is focusing on instead of operating with this scarcity mindset of, oh my gosh, there's a labor war, talent shortage, or just a lot of volatility in the labor market. And we're going to lose people we need to hold on to them to this scarcity mentality is all about just cling to what you have and try to grasp at whatever you can get. That's the feeling that exists around the great resignation, where instead if you take this abundance mentality and see it as a, maybe a market correction and the labor market for a variety of reasons, and instead of, I guess, taking the mindset that you have to just wait The storm or like, let the waves crash over you. And one way to think about is just like how do we optimize for the flow of people in and out of our company, as opposed to this mentality of, let's find them be really selective about recruiting people, and let's hold on to them as long as we can, the best that we can, by creating a great company to work and all this other stuff, maybe you just optimize for the flow. And maybe that makes everything better. So yeah, I'd love to get into your thoughts on that. Because I've certainly have some just through the work that we've been doing over the years, and hearing about our philosophy and our approach to that.
Robert Greiner 5:35pes of deals. If you remember:
Charles Knight 7:58
I certainly agree with them that there's an element of control that's being exerted here. And People's Choice. We've been cooped up humans. For the longest time. We just roamed about your hands. Like we're meant to be able to move around physically. And if you can't, it gets stifling like claustrophobic. Even. And yeah, changing jobs is one way to significantly mix it up. You know, what this? NPR, you know, talking about the great resignation, they pointed to restaurant and hotel workers leading the way. I think that's telling, like, where did this wave first start, in terms of resignations, and the ones that came to follow are probably what we're experiencing now. They were frontline workers, essential workers in the line of fire. Yeah, taking on a lot of personal risk and danger, right physical danger to their lives. They've experienced it way more than I have. But I've experienced a degree of that, too. Just as people in my network got infected and had to come to grips with how does that how does it impact me what risk tolerance do I have to to that. And so I think more than anything, this is the thing that this pandemic has done for us across the globe is that it has put us in physical danger in ways that we're typically not put into danger. On average, right, like it's pretty safe, on average. But that threat like to physical safety, I think has you reevaluating? What is it that you really value? Do I really value family enough to where I'm going to put myself and others at risk to go see them? Or am I in a way that out? Even though that creates isolation, you know and loneliness? I need a paycheck and I'm an hourly worker. Is that enough? Is it important enough for me to put food on the table for my family by being a doordash delivery person? I think that's part of the core, right? It's this reevaluation of is this all worth it given my values? And I think many people are saying, now's the time for a change right? to either get some space if you can, if you're privileged enough to afford it and say, What do I want to do? Do I want to change careers? And do I want to change locations, but for a lot of people, they don't have that choice. And that's the really sad, sad thing. It's like the essential workers, the frontline workers are the ones that are hit the hardest and put under and continue to be put into danger. And they get paid the least they get paid the least. And what options do they have if they want to get out of that? Not as much as we do. I think that's the really humbling part of this. Like, it's what we're experiencing is not anywhere near as difficult and dire. And yeah, just hard as what the frontline workers, essential workers are experiencing to this day. That was a lot sorry, but free rambling thinking about this. Does that make sense to you?Robert Greiner:
Yeah, yeah. And then if you are lucky enough to get a job to get an offer of that has some level of flexibility, it does seem like opting into that flexibility. And even if it comes with longer term, friction, career friction, does seem to be something that, yeah, like you said, people are opting into, there's a different calculus being played in people's minds around what's valuable outside of just salary.Charles Knight:
I don't know if this is right. But my intuition is that sure people are leaving jobs that they've had for a while to go pursue other jobs, that's probably going to keep happening over the next 18 months. Right. So people that left to go work someplace else, like one of our competitors, maybe they'll leave in another 18 months. Because once they've baked a little bit, they realize that they're not happier, it's not still in alignment with their values. And so I don't think this is just a one time, everybody, you know, take a different seat, and then we're locked into to a steady state equilibrium, I think this is just going to continue to fluctuate, and people are going to move from company to company and try things out and experiment until they settle. So that's why I love this idea of optimizing for the flow, right? Because this isn't a one time thing that will likely come in waves until things reach a new equilibrium.Robert Greiner:
The other thing too, is we're not getting a lot of good information on why people are leaving. There's this like I mentioned whole new mindset shift, there are new variables at play. When I talk to people who are leaving, right when they put in their notice or things like that you get this sort of rehearsed, largely unhelpful. reason. And, and I don't, I think that's the right play. Like I don't blame them for that. It's really not too wise to tell your employer on the way out why you're leaving, like the real reasons behind it, you should always just be thankful for the opportunity. This is a good thing for me and my family, those types of things that are no what good, it does you to pop off on your way out. But what it also robs us from, you don't have a way of getting that feedback later. Is what are those reasons? What are the things that people were thinking of? What are the things that we could change, add more flexibility, and as we move towards, ultimately, trying to keep people from leaving, because we're already offering what they're leaving for?Charles Knight:
This is really interesting, because there's so many different threads, we can go down, I guess I'll go with the one that first popped into my head. Do you think people are? I'm sure there are some people that are deliberately, you know, withholding information in those exit surveys, for example, or even in one on one conversations. A lot of times though, I don't know, maybe I'm wrong. A lot of times, I think that people don't really know why they left. Not reallyRobert Greiner:
Oh, yeah. Okay,Charles Knight:
kind of at a loss, right? They have this feeling that they need to change and this kind ofRobert Greiner:
Running from something you think orCharles Knight:
not running from. Yeah. There are times when for sure people are running away from something. There are times when people are running towards something, too. This is more about from a neuroscience standpoint, like the decisions that we make, are made subconsciously, before the rational cognitive mind can come up with an explanation. I just know this through some of the stuff butRobert Greiner:
yes, yeah, that makes sense.Charles Knight:
And so a lot of these reasons that their assets like I think these are rationalizations after the fact, right after they have some feeling of conviction about it's time for a change, and ask asking them why. It's like, Oh, I guess I need to have a reason why, as opposed to this just feels right. I like it, which to me is a perfectly good reason. But I think we feel like we have to provide a it's all bias based off of how the exit surveys are structured, and what questions we ask and stuff like that. And so I kind of I agree that I don't like exit surveys, because there's not a lot of useful stuff. And yet, I still think it's important because because I think what we should be doing when people leave is reflecting and saying, Have we done something fundamentally wrong? Did we fail As a result of a lack of integrity, or did we miss the mark in terms of our mission? And I think you get a sense of that, and looking at the exit surveys over aggregate, and over a period of time. But it doesn't it, I don't think it does much to surface things that that we can do right now. To slow or stop attrition. Like I don't, I just don't think that's possible.Robert Greiner:
Yeah. And I heard this really cool analogy, where if you're on like a really big ship in the ocean, and you want to make a 90 degree turn, you as soon as you start turning, you will travel like 13 nautical miles in the your original direction before you are stopped and actually pointed in the other direction. Yeah, yeah. And it's just like that, like, you just you can't turn on a dime. These are hundreds of little things that need to be adapted to over time. So you don't get this cascade of dysfunction, which in this case, would lead to attrition. Yeah. And yeah, it's 100 little things. So any little piece of information that you can gather that you can arm, frontline managers, frontline leaders with to help with their influence, their sphere of control, is also the right approach, like you can't actually even solve this at the organizational level anyway,Charles Knight:
yeah. It's such a complex system that anything that you tried to do, will take time to change the system. And so that's where I think it's in our model. It's, it's tough for our people, and myself, because you hate to see people go, you want to do something to try to stop people, other people from leaving, that you don't want to leave, when in fact, the right thing to do is to wish them the best, and reflect ourselves why we're here, why we choose to stay and share that with others. Because I think it is the right thing to do to reevaluate and reflect and say, Hey, should I be here? Or maybe I'm missing something. And and I should be rethinking about where I'm working? If we don't we don't we don't do those people that leave justice. I think that is our responsibility. And the only thing we can do really, within our control, is to personally say, am I convicted in staying? In? If so, let me just share that with people. So that way people know. And if not great, they've inspired me to reevaluate my priorities and values. And that's good, too. And that's connected very much to the optimized for flow. I think it's great when people realize that consulting isn't for them, or consulting is for them, or they want to go back and teach or they want to stay at home and take care of kids it. Those to me are things to celebrate. And I feel like some people, there's a lot of shame in that. Like, they feel like they failed, right? Yeah. And that that's just, that makes me so sad, dude. Like when people are afraid to leave and tell people they're leaving, because they feel like they're gonna disappoint somebody. Those are the hardest ones. And when people are, like, I was afraid to tell you, Charles, like why are you so afraid? I'm so happy for you.Robert Greiner:
And it's such a good point, man, like you don't want to be doing things to force people out. There are plenty of examples of dysfunction of misbehavior that make people want to leave, we're not talking about that here. You should stamp that out as best you can. But also take a firm like ours, Facebook, Google, even like those are two completely different companies to work for Amazon, they're all in the upper echelons, they're all completely different to work for, where we have a very opinionated way of how our company works, what career trajectories look like, what we value, what we don't. And it's a fairly narrow path. And if we're not a great fit, or we're a good fit, but now we're not, that's totally fine. You should be thinking about that in your career. Or maybe this was a great fit for me a perfect fit for me five years ago. Now, for these reasons, the story has changed. I want different things, whatever. It's time to seek something new. And it's not you're upset or trying to leave because you hate it there or something bad happened. You're just looking for the next wave of the journey. And I think we should encourage that. Again, this is another counterintuitive thing, you you can't force people to opt in to your opinionated structure. They either like it or they don't. That's the whole point. Like you have to have a perspective on how the organization is structured and runs. And if people aren't compatible, and you try to force them to stay somehow, that's just it's gonna end up working out really poorly. So you got it, you got to help them see that it's a good fit or not, and adjust accordingly.Charles Knight:
Yeah, that's why I never tried to convince somebody to stay on that there's there seems wrong. Why like you Only you know best if you should stay or leave. Now, what can I do to give you information to best make the informed decision? That's what my role is in those scenarios. Okay. Have you thought about this? Like, how are you thinking, tell me your decision making process. So that way, I can feel good that we've given you the information that you need. That's my role in those situations not to convince people do you try to convince people to stay if they come to you or not.Robert Greiner:
No, if the decisions made, it's made, your shields are down long ago, I The decision was made long ago, you should definitely just be supportive, and do what you can to help the transition go smoothly, because job transitions are risky. But now I don't think I think the data supports this, there's the counter offer the trying to force something, it just really doesn't make sense. Your effort would be better spent trying to keep people from wanting to leave in the first place. And the I never tried to force the change of heart. It just doesn't make sense.Charles Knight:
Okay, so question for you. This is in the realm of optimizing for flow. And in this HBr article they talk about as an example, they call it developing a program for happy exits. So it's to encourage people, well, it's to encourage incentivize people to retire. So they say, Hey, that was pretty cool. Yeah, yeah. When employee turns 35, if they have worked for over six and a half years, they're eligible for a $75,000 retirement bonus. And as they get older, the bonus increases. That's a great example of optimizing for flow. Here's one that I've heard of being discussed. Now. I just heard the idea at our company. It wasn't something that I think people were pursuing. But I think it is another great example of optimizing for flow. And I want to get your take on it. Because it was very controversial when I heard about this. So it's the idea that we get like a total compensation summary every year. In the mail. Yep. Nice, glossy. Yeah. So what this person was advocating for is that in addition to that, like, Hey, here's total comp that we've given, you look at all the great things that we've done here is essentially comparables compensation that you could get elsewhere, either at our competitors, or within industry, like if you want to go work for one of our clients. And they were saying, like, we should be offering that as a service to our employees. So that they know, on a regular basis, like what how the market would value them, as you can imagine, that's essentially making it easy for somebody say, wait a second, I can get $50,000 more in salary by going over here. Yeah, I'm gonna take it. Right. That was the fear. And the controversy is like, why would you do that is because you're optimizing for flow. And we don't have this scarcity mentality around the need to retain people at whatever cost is. Have you heard about that idea within our firm or? No,Robert Greiner:
I haven't. But I like the idea. I think there is such a thing as too much transparency. I don't think most places get even close to that line.Charles Knight:
Yeah, yeah.Robert Greiner:
Yeah. I mean, the information exists, elsewhere. Yeah, I think one of the, by offering that information up, you also create value in the employees mind where you go is probably not going to give you that. So we have a model, for instance, where everybody at every level makes the same money, no matter what. And there are geographical multipliers there. So if you live in New York, and you're the same level as me, your salary is higher because you live in a high cost of living area. But it's the same across the board. It's all published. And you can very clearly see, and that has a huge benefit in that it pretty much eradicates wage discrimination. Yeah, heavily mitigates it.Charles Knight:
It creates challenges, though, right?Robert Greiner:
Yes, we can't offer we can't try to compete to get a really great resource from like a new college hire, or really great hire, we don't have it, we don't have the flexibility. And so it bites us on the other end. And you can always leave our firm to go make more money. Based on how we structure compensation, we don't put all of our resources into salary, we spend a lot of time on career growth, you know, you and I spend hundreds of hours a year of time that we could be billing, we could be generating revenue, we could be selling work focused intently on the career growth of others. That's a benefit you have working here that has $1 value to it above and beyond what the average is at other organizations, and you can go get more of one thing somewhere else, you can't go get more of everything somewhere else. And so you got to be really careful what that balance is.Charles Knight:
It is fascinating to think about the importance of how you design systems, like early on, because it was so easy for us to be transparent about salaries, because that was baked into our system like it was architected by design at the beginning of our firm. It's a nobody questions that nobody questions that they think they might think that it's weird and unique. And wrong, but nobody really fights against it. The interesting thing about this other service, and I can't remember if it was a, hey, every employee gets it every year, or maybe it was a opt in service that's available. So hey, if you're looking, how about we help you look. So it's a something that people could opt into, and get a sense as to what they could command in the market, which I think by the way, would also reduce some of that shame of leaving of letting people down if not being a perfect employee, because our values have changed, or they weren't aligned to begin with. But we, if that was baked into the design of our system, we wouldn't be questioning that either. It would just be a thing, right? Like it would just be part of how we operate. Another one of those things, that's the secret sauce. And I think the hard part is, what are the unintended consequences of doing that? Yeah, it's easy to say, higher turnover, right, higher, higher turnover, because people opt to leave when presented with that information that otherwise wouldn't, because they didn't, they didn't think to go look for themselves. That's like first order, consequences, that sort of thing. But what are the second order consequences, that's the hard part that we would need to unpack to try to make that system level change now, which is why we haven't, because it's just really hard, it's really hard to understand the consequences of that sort of stuff.Robert Greiner:
And going back to the article, too, it's the same kind of thing, you're, what HBr suggesting is that you make your people so valuable. I'm using my words here, you make your people so valuable, that it hurts when you lose them. And again, you could view that as counterintuitive. But that's precisely the right way to approach this, you want people developing faster than inflation, faster than the market is growing faster than your competitors are growing. And if they choose to take that and go make more money somewhere else, or go get something else that they're looking for, that we can't offer somewhere else, then that's fine, because you've built an engine of developing people to a really high potential to get more out of them than when they started. And if you have a good hiring pipeline to replace, then that's how championship teams are made like you. There's an analogue to that in sports. Next man up, next person up. And so if you're developing everyone more broadly, you don't have to worry about. So being so focused on trying to keep your 10x performer in there and cultivating that person, like an individual, like planting a garden, because you're making it up more on scale, and it's going to be harder to leave. If you're growing if you have good flexibility in your work. And you have this interesting retirement bonus that we read about you taking care of people like they're going to be less inclined to want to leave, even if they can, like I said, Go optimize one attribute of their career interests somewhere else.Charles Knight:
I think that's really easy for a company like us to do because of what we are optimized for, which is developing people to their highest potential. It just makes perfect sense, right? And I just take for granted, that is how we're wired and oriented to where that sort of stuff makes sense. But do you really think that this could work at other companies right now?Robert Greiner:
I don't think I don't think this can be solved. And by the way, we're learning this in our company, too, is a lot of our response to attrition, to market forces to things like that really can't be done at the CEO level, at the executive level at the entire organization level. You have to decentralize the authority and responsibility and resources to the individual leaders for their team to make the decisions they think are necessary. You may have one team that's really hungry for training and growth, and leveling up their skill set, where you may have another team, that the majority of the focus could be on work life balance, and then everything in between. And so you have to equip that group of leaders who are on the front lines to make the most out of that.Charles Knight:
Yep. And it's so true. I think one thing that I take comfort in is that this is happening to everybody everywhere, like all industries, all types of jobs. And one thing that gives me comfort is that I don't believe that this is an existential threat to our firm. It's just something that we have to weather and that we should learn from. If we were dealing with what we're dealing with, and everybody else was not right. That would be a scary point in time. Right? Because then it's okay. There's something structurally or fundamentally wrong with us. But this is just to me, hate this is where we are as aRobert Greiner:
Yeah, the playing field is essentially equal. These macro forces are affecting all ships in the ocean. We are in a situation though, it's a new frontier, where if you're able to adapt to this new reality, you're going to reap outsize benefits. And that's why I think, you know, we are trending towards, it's not a new idea, to decentralize this stuff. That's, we're moving. We've been moving towards that for decades. Now. When it comes to the levers that you can pull to keep people interested in growing and creating an environment where people want to stay, we just got done with the series talking about that, it all comes down to the team that someone's on. So if you are a manager, and you have a bunch of individual contributors working for you, or your director, and you have a bunch of managers working for you, or a VP, and you have a bunch of directors working for you all the way up, you have your core team, that's the team, you have to focus on making sure that they're getting what they need to grow, to manage their work life balance, all of those things effectively. And that's how you drive. I think career growth and stem attrition over time, because again, you're not you don't want to force people out who have because you're doing something wrong. If people aren't want to opt out, because the story has changed, and they want something different than you can offer. That's fine. But that landscape is larger. If you take it down to the team level, you have much more flexibility to address the individual needs and preferences of your team.Charles Knight:
Yep. Interesting stuff. I'm curious to just how the restaurant workers and the hotel workers lead the way and resignations. I wonder where the early signals are going to come that we've reached some sort of equilibrium in the labor market? I really have no ideas. Do you? as aware we should be looking to see when you're leading indicators? Yeah, some sort of leading indicator?Robert Greiner:
Yeah, that's a good question. I I don't know.Charles Knight:
I don't know, either. Yeah. I think it's too early to say, I think people are starting to experiment with the hybrid work models. When as people start to re enter the workplace, in our line of business, and a lot of our clients, not the front, frontline workers we've been talking about, I think until there's some sort of emergence of best practice there. I think labor will continue to fluctuate and move and be quite volatile, because and that's probably going to take another 18 to 24 months, if I were to wager a guess.Robert Greiner:
Yeah. And we have pockets of the US worried about the next wave of pandemic. And so we could be forced into, you know, something that looked a lot more like it was 12 months ago than it is now. And so it's hard, definitely hard to tell. But I don't know that changes, what your action should be, if you're on with you and your team, especially if you're in a leadership position. Yeah, doing the things that you can do to make sure your people are growing, supported, helping them navigate the return to work, hybrid model, whatever that looks like, which is going to be long and drawn out all the things we've been talking about. That's still the play.Charles Knight:
Yeah. It's interesting to reflect upon the year, right, we're in August, at the beginning of the year, everybody was really optimistic. And I think rightfully, we were optimistic, but this the attrition, the variant progression throughout our country, it's it's just a reminder that this is still a marathon, we got to think about the long term, we have to manage our individual energy, and ups and downs. So that way, we can take care of our teams as they experienced these things. And then keep focusing on that because that is within our control. Just let's take care of each other at the team level. And, and I think things are going to be okay. As long as we do that.Robert Greiner:
Yeah, definitely.Charles Knight:
Cool, man. I don't know if I have more thoughts. But thanks for sharing these articles. They were they were interesting to read. I've heard a lot of different stats in terms of people considering leaving their jobs, like 40, 70 80% 90%, and different surveys and stuff like that. Regardless of the actual number. There's just a lot. So I'm curious to see what this continues to bring, you know, the economy overall.Robert Greiner:
Yeah, yeah, definitely. And hopefully, if you're in a leadership position, this has helped give some thoughts and ideas on how you can provide a good place for your team and hopefully mitigate some of the attrition going on around us. Yeah, was great talking to you, man. We'll talk soon.Charles Knight:
Cool. Thanks, Robert.Robert Greiner:
Take care. Bye.Charles Knight:
That's it for today. Thanks for joining and don't forget to follow us on Twitter @wannagrabcoffee or drop us a line at Hello@wannagrabcoffee.com