Still Pushing Employees to the Brink: A bad habit from the Great Recession.
Organizations responded to the Great Recession that started in 2007 with massive job cuts as consumer demand collapsed. The mantra was “do more with less” and the people still employed responded gratefully. Unfortunately for both unemployed folks and their employed friends, organizations of all stripes made the lean workforce a habit rather than a temporary fix. This has led to what Workforce.com came to call “the work-more economy,” coined in 2012 “to capture the way companies were ratcheting up expectations on employees in the wake of the Great Recession.”
Workforce, in a recent article, observes that this bad habit has not been fixed, and employees are starting to wear out. At some point that stressed-out dam of frustration will break, and self-assertive employees will seek and find greener pastures.
In the article, the writers cite research to back up this assertion:
- Towers Watson conducted research last year that found “inadequate staffing” as the top source of workplace stress, as reported by employees.
- A separate Towers Watson study shows that stress is now one of the top reasons high-performing employees leave organizations.
- The Corporate Executive Board Co. found that about 20 percent of employees identified as high-potentials are choosing to drop out of leadership development programs — we suspect because the programs were run with the same relentless grind, or simply added to an already jammed responsibility list.
The article is packed with other statistics that find the same growing threat to corporate tranquility, and while the authors find glimmers of hope in the actions of companies to ease the strain with all the usual tools of engagement (flexible schedules, thank-yous of all shapes and sizes, and the like), sharing the record profits of the last half-decades seems still to be last on the list, in that renewed hiring (the best possible solution) is not yet happening.
We kept waiting for the authors to jump in with “but its getting better!” They didn’t, and that points out a significant competitive advantage for those companies willing to invest a bit right now in their future:
- Top talent is ready to move.
- Engagement with these great people is still patchy and inconsistent.
- They are still being asked to do more with less.
- If you want to take a bit of risk, and invest in staffing up a bit faster than your competition, you could end up with all the best “high potential” people!
Worth thinking about? You bet. Adding staff the right way does not simply mean extra cost. It can unlock contribution from employees too stressed to be passionate, by giving them the chance to recharge their creative energy and unlock their full potential to contribute.
Exhausted employees don’t do their best work. This is a loss to the corporation that employs them. Hire back some of the supporting characters to top talent, and watch their creativity and innovative contributions explode!
Are you sub-optimized by unreasonable demands on your time and energy? Would you move to greener pastures if you thought the new place might be adjusting its mindset away from the “work-more economy?” What small improvements by your employer would make you want to stay and see how the next year develops?