Have you ever been in awe of a company that seems to do everything perfectly? You know the ones … they have a recognizable, respected brand and mission, they find and hire the right people, positive culture is off the charts, and professional development opportunities are plentiful.
Unfortunately, many of us have worked for a company who operated on a philosophy of profit over people and had high turnover rates, with no defined mission or values. The main question here is: Do these types of sub-par organizations have a chance of turning things around? EDSI’s Managing Partner of EDSI Consulting, Jim Bitterle thinks they do, which is why he wrote his first book: Unquittable: Finding and Keeping the Talent You Need.
In this blog, Jim will answer questions about the findings from his book research and share best practices and “unquittable” tips companies can use to ensure their talent management strategy is effective and competitive in the 21st century. Jim brings more than 20 years of management consulting experience in the areas of talent management and organizational strategy. His leadership roles in general management, operational, organizational improvement, and strategic consulting engagements, as well as direct experience as a corporate leader, give him great perspective in understanding the universal need for all organizations to find, develop, and retain great people.
Q: The economic situation we’re in right now is uncertain. How is this book relevant in today’s talent landscape?
A: Due to the COVID-19 recession, we’re not dealing with a war for talent now, but the best practices and innovative tools in the book are still very relevant and important.
In looking at the macro data, we had a talent shortage and now we have a recession. The Department of Labor still shows the trend of jobs growing faster than our workforce, so even though we may be in a recession for a while, when we come out of this, the war for talent is actually going to be worse. That’s why NOW is the perfect time for companies to focus on implementing solid talent principles, because when you’re really busy it’s hard to carve out time for improvement. If you plan and practice now, you can start making changes to help your company create an unquittable environment and be known as a great place to work. Then, when the war for talent fires back up again, your company will be one of the winners.
Q: What advice do you offer in the book for companies dealing with low morale/high turnover?
A: I recommend starting with a talent dashboard. Start tracking the data on things like recruitment, time it takes to fill open positions, turnover, etc. First, try to understand the negative culture/talent issues, then figure out how much each issue (high turnover, for example) is costing your company. Then when you approach the CEO with improvement ideas, you’ll have the data and numbers to back up your case. Once the financial impact is defined, then it’s time to get buy-in from leadership to start making changes. If leadership is not bought in, unfortunately you won’t make much progress.
Q: What kind of professional development and training are expected by today’s workforce?
A: In recent studies, I found that young workers – millennials in particular – place high value on training and career development. And because they find that so valuable – more valuable than Gen Xers or Baby Boomers – companies, in order to be competitive, must offer programs that train and develop employees. The best thing a company can do is create a corporate university where curriculum is tied to career paths.
Most companies don’t have curriculum developers in their organization and there’s no need to hire people to do it because companies like EDSI can offer the resources and provide the service for that aspect of the corporate university. What we do is come into the company and talk to their subject matter experts, develop the training for them, and then hand it off for them to use when and how they want.
EDSI has helped clients build customized training and corporate university programs for over 30 years, which have resulted in improved talent attraction and retention rates.
Q: When it comes to onboarding, where do companies usually go wrong?
A: Onboarding at many companies is usually is too short and too limited. A good onboarding program must include more than orientation, benefits explanation and IT setup before throwing an employee into their job.
A really great onboarding experience involves a more in-depth introduction that includes company history, who clients are, products/services overview, departmental overviews, key people to know in the organization, career paths, etc.
Did you know 43% of new hires quit after being hired because it wasn’t what they were expecting? A more robust and progressive onboarding process could reduce this number.
It’s also crucial to talk in detail about the company’s core values during onboarding so people understand the culture and expectations. According to a 2019 Jobvite study, 61% of new hires get no training on corporate culture, which shows that companies clearly need improvement in this area. Unquittable organizations take it even a step further by assigning a mentor upon hire –a non-manager who they can go to if they need advice, guidance or reassurance.
Q: What is the worst talent situation you’ve witnessed in your years as a consultant?
A: Recently I had a client who treated his employees with such obvious disdain and did not value or appreciate them. The CEO ignored employee feedback and didn’t trust his leadership team. It was no surprise that employees were not engaged and the turnover rate was very high. In a situation like this, it’s no surprise that product quality ends up suffering. Today, the company is struggling to survive and the CEO still won’t change his ways. These problems ALWAYS start at the top!
On the flipside, a company like Judson Center is an in-progress success story. The CEO truly cares about employees and as a result of hard work, time, transparent communication and employee enrichment, the company is going through a cultural transformation. Their Glassdoor score has gone up from 2.7 to 4.5 in less than a year! As the culture shifts in a positive direction, turnover is less and employees want to stay. Everyone is on the same page, working toward similar goals that support company strategy.
Q: What are your last words of advice to become an unquittable organization?
A: Don’t expect to grow an unquittable organization overnight. You’ll try some things and they won’t work, but don’t let that stop you. Keep trying different methods and communicate the vision. It usually takes 2 or more years to have a meaningful culture change. And remember: talent drives the success of a company; it drives the success of your business and the ability to achieve strategic and financial goals.