Expert: Great managers, quality onboarding and training key to finding, retaining talent

The Local Cantina on Est First St. in Dayton has a help wanted sign on the front door. JIM NOELER/STAFF

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The Local Cantina on Est First St. in Dayton has a help wanted sign on the front door. JIM NOELER/STAFF

Money and benefits are important in the quest for talented workers, but there is more to finding and retaining great employees in today’s tight job market, according to Bruce Tulgan, founder and CEO of RainmakerThinking Inc.

“Of course money matters,” said Tulgan, an author and expert on workforce issues. “It’s just that money is only part of the equation.”

Tulgan will speak Feb. 22 at the University of Dayton Center for Leadership’s executive development program. He will discuss how companies can become a magnet for the best talent and how to keep those employees amid the tightest labor market in years and what has been dubbed The Great Resignation.

He said companies should always be recruiting and evaluating potential employees, perhaps calling on former employees as a resource.

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Bruce Tulgan is founder and CEO of RainmakerThinking Inc., and an author.

Credit: Contributed

Bruce Tulgan is founder and CEO of RainmakerThinking Inc., and an author.

Credit: Contributed

Combined ShapeCaption
Bruce Tulgan is founder and CEO of RainmakerThinking Inc., and an author.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

And once the new employee is hired, Tulgan said it is critical to have great managers, top quality onboarding, training opportunities and a high performance culture.

“Yes, you have to be flexible and generous to set yourself apart in today’s super-competitive labor market,” Tulgan said. “But that doesn’t mean telling employees, ‘Come to work whenever you feel like it, and bring your dog!’”

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“Talent war is probably a good description of what things are in today’s workforce,” said Brent Kondritz, the center’s executive director. “The struggle for talent and finding talent and bringing in great talent is real.”

The Dayton region has made workforce attraction and retention a top priority. Officials are working to implement ideas from a report commissioned last year by the First Suburbs Consortium of Dayton, and the new Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy that is in the draft stage and being overseen by the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission.

Companies struggle to find workers with the right skills, a problem exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and shifting attitudes in what workers expect from employers.

Last April the quits rate, a measure of employees who voluntarily left jobs, hit a record high as 4 million people quit jobs, and then proceeded to break the record in several subsequent monthly jobs reports, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In December 4.3 million people voluntarily quit their jobs, a quits rate of 2.9%, slightly down from November’s record-breaking 3% rate.

U.S. job openings and labor turnover-December 2021  
 TotalRate
Job openings10.9 million6.8%
Hires6.3 million4.2%
Total Separations5.9 million4.0%
- Quits4.3 million2.9%
- Layoffs and discharges1.2 million0.8%
- Other separations392,0000.3%
Note: Data is seasonally adjusted. Separations includes quits, layoffs and discharges and other separations including retirement. Quits are people voluntarily leaving their jobs. 
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 

Some people are leaving for better pay and benefits, taking advantage of a steady rise in wages offered for job openings. Others leave jobs because of lack of affordable quality child care, COVID-19 fears, the need to take care of an ill family member, the stress of the job, a lack of flexibility or an employer not allowing remote work.

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“And in the face of all of these acute factors, a lot of people are rethinking their working lives and careers,” Tulgan said. “And it’s certainly true that some people are choosing to retire a little earlier than they would.”

Those “acute” causes of the labor shortage are worsened by macroeconomic forces, such as changing demographics, including an aging workforce, globalization and technology.

“Bad news is: this isn’t going away. The good news is there are things you can do to control it,” Tulgan said.

Good management and managers are central to the effort, he said.

“If there is a killer app, the killer app is managers practicing the fundamentals,” said Tulgan. “The result of that will be to increase retention.”

U.S. Employment and Unemployment-January 2022 
Total employed157.2 million
Jobs added in January 467,000
Unemployed people6.5 million
Unemployment rate4%
  
Note: Data is seasonally adjusted. The January jobs added are nonfarm payroll employment from establishment survey. All other data is from household survey. 
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

He said companies need to look at every employee in a supervisory role, especially those handling new hires, and make sure they are supportive “coaching-style” managers who can teach new employees. Then the company needs to provide ongoing support from managers, help workers chart a career path and to know what skills they will be building in the job.

Doing a better job retaining employees requires understanding why people quit. Those who leave soon after being hired are often suffering “buyer’s remorse” because the job was oversold by the company or because the employer ignored red flags in the rush to hire and made a bad choice, Tulgan said.

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Weak onboarding, poor orientation and training and having a weak, unsupportive manager are also major causes of new hires quitting, he said.

Employees who leave after two to five years often do so because they don’t see a career path, a chance to advance or a way to get more control over their schedule, Tulgan said.

More experienced people often leave due to “over-commitment syndrome,” often caused by understaffing and poor management, he said.

“Those are the people who are burning out,” Tulgan said. “Over-commitment syndrome is driving out some of the most valuable people in the workforce.”

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He said a high-performance culture does not mean people should be overworked. It does mean having a culture where people are expected to work hard, and they know they will be rewarded for it.

“One good person is worth more than three or four mediocre people,” Tulgan said. “Create a talent-first culture where what you’re doing is trying to create an environment where people can take care of themselves and also do great work.”


How to go

What: Bruce Tulgan session at the University of Dayton Center for Leadership

Time: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 22

Location: Daniel J. Curran Place, University of Dayton

For details and registration: Visit https://udayton.co/TDI or call 937-229-3115

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