Project Management

Keep Workers from Quitting

From the Eye on the Workforce Blog
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Workforce management is a key part of project success, but project managers often find it difficult to get trustworthy information on what really works. From interpersonal interactions to big workforce issues we'll look the latest research and proven techniques to find the most effective solutions for your projects.

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You may have seen somewhere reports that workers across industries are quitting their jobs,  to seek better options that align with improved quality of life. One key stimulus for this is that they feel their current job is just not meaningful enough. Pandemics seem to add a new perspective the old job.

How would your project be affected if one or more team members simply resigned? At the very least, there would a disruptive period where the replacement process would have to play out. In a more difficult situation, you would face significant delays. You should want to avoid this situation, but what do you know about making work meaningful? What are you, a psychologist?

Well, maybe you do have a few tricks up your sleeve to make the situation better. And don't think it is all that difficult. You do not have to have an advanced degree in psychology to make work more meaningful. Sometimes all you need to do is show you care. Consider the following to adjust to the "new" new normal.

Remain aware of the key reasons people are giving for leaving (according to a Microsoft survey, at least, which also concludes that there are millions more ready to quit - yikes!).

  • Stagnating career
  • Sameness of their lives
  • Lack of fair treatment
  • Unnecessary income
  • unsafe workplace
  • Not engaged in workplace - disconnected from others

Some of these you will have little power to change, but others, such as not being engaged or stagnating career, you can help with.

Be aware also that Generations are being affected differently and it is clear that leaders are disconnected from their employees. According this report, younger workers are experiencing more negative affects than older workers. If you are not sure where to start, check with younger workers first.

Here's a quick example to show how simple a solution can be. Do you know anyone who is not satisfied with their current situation? This person may have already expressed their discontent or dissatisfaction with their job or the work environment.

  • Respond to this person by determining more detail about the situation. Do they desire more flexible work hours so that they can pursue charitable work or a meaningful hobby? You may have the power to approve adjustments that make all the difference.

Not all your interventions will be easy, of course. My article on the recent site topic of Inclusion leads to an important response consideration during the Great Resignation, as this situation has been called.  If you request feedback related to job satisfaction, be ready to handle this feedback appropriately.

  • Be ready to respond to someone whose comments make you uncomfortable. Someone may contradict you, or just not agree with your assessment of the situation, perhaps involving workplace fairness. Someone may have an unusual suggestion. It is important to remain open to these ideas, not to shut them down or minimize them. Remain calm.
  • Keep disagreement from becoming conflict by respecting opposing views. Seek to understand more about these ideas. Set up a follow-up if needed, but show that you are interested in resolving any problem connected with the workplace.
  • Act quickly on this feedback, however is appropriate for your project. If an action item is needed to improve the morale or to add meaning to worker's efforts, get started on that action item. The firs one you do will reflect on your commitment to more. First impression

Think about how the work environment affects your project team. Does it treat people as nameless resources who are required to get work done on time even if sacrifices must be made? Or does the work environment treat everyone with respect as individuals? To fix a bad work environment is complex. Your actions to improve the situation in your project does not have to be.

Start by asking project team members what would make work more meaningful to them. It may be more work that builds new skills so they can improve their career. Or maybe you need to actively assist someone to be more involved in the decisions of the team. Or someone may need time away from work to do something personally unique and exciting. Or it may be that you need to arrange a fun, non-work activity for your team where they can interact and rebuild rapport.

If the problem turns out to be similar to situations like these, you very likely have the power and influence necessary to be mount a successful intervention and to help give more meaning to worker's lives.  

Consider also this comment recently on a related article that I wrote.

BEVERELEY JAMES commented on How to Stay Empathetic During Complex Projects.

"A PM or Leader should strive for a culture that allows authentic and constructive concerns to surface so that empathetic responses can be given to address them. This type of environment does not always exist. An article on how to encourage/create that type of environment would be very helpful as well."

 This post partly fulfills your request Bevereley. I know I wrote a series on this topic and I will find that (those) ad post on this blog next time.

Posted on: September 19, 2021 07:34 AM | Permalink

Comments (5)

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Dear Joe
Very interesting theme that brought to our reflection and debate
Thanks for sharing and your opinions.

The resignation problem is bigger, especially in Indian IT workforce. There are even articles in mainstream media about this because the companies are now offering very high package & even cars to attract IT workforce.

The current period is indeed a difficult period to retain workforce. We just have to learn to work with continuous turnover of employees.

Thank you Joe for providing this evaluation. I would be interested in knowing what are the trends that disenfranchised workers are seeking, in light of the COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines, due to being out of certain employment opportunities.

Employee / employer relationship continuity has changed dramatically over time. In fact, it appears that having more employers on your resume is now more desirable as well! It's too bad because it creates an unconnected workforce that is harder to bond into high performing teams. Also very difficult to create "culture" that's specific to one company and create vision and pride (good pride) in your career. Leaders would be wise to incentivize properly and create the environment you mention above. Great article, Mr Wynne!

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