Closing Shop One Employee At A Time

Is your company planning to close up shop anytime soon?  Maybe there are no plans to close, but it is happening just the same, one employee at a time.  Why is it that the sailors know before the officers that the ship is taking on water and going down?  Your company may not be planning to close shop on any specific date, but they are closing.  They just don’t realize it yet.

There are countless reasons why employees quit an organization, and countless reasons why companies ignore the warning signs.  They wait until a location or department is out of employees before someone asks what happened.  Although it is too late to turn back the clocks, I’d prefer to encourage managers not to wait that long and focus on two areas that let us know we have problems.

  • The first is the training function.  Is this function building in-depth skills, advanced abilities and preparing for the unknown before it happens, or is it self consumed with entry-level and new hire orientations?  If they never have the time to build, and are only addressing first level it could be because the company is growing.  If the company is not growing it is time to find out why employees are not staying.
  • The second function is within HR, and it is recruiting?  What is driving the recruiting function?  Again if it is growth that keeps them so busy that is okay, but if it is a result of terminations and resignations then do they know why?  Terminations are often thought to be a result of the employee screwing up, but many times it is a work environment that prevents success.  Resignations could signal many different issues, and not just payroll please.  People will often take less pay than the competition if everything else is okay, but when people leave for preventable issues, the company is at fault for losing an employee.

I was discussing employee retention with a senior manager recently, and he said something like, there are more where they came from, implying that unemployment will easily yield more applicants.  I used to be bothered by this mentality, but it has become so common place it doesn’t surprise me.  I still want it to go away, but the reality is that too many managers think this way.  They feel they are doing the employee a service by providing a job instead of realizing that employees are free to seek better work environments.

I’m also learning that this kind of mentality will crush a company over time.  And the higher up the food chain it exists the quicker it will cause the company’s demise.  If the CEO is grounded, the company has a chance.  But if the CEO has their head in the clouds and sees only what they want to see, then they will be the last to realize they have been closing shop for months, one employee at a time.


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