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Talent Talk: The Turnover Hurricane Is Here

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Is 30% workforce turnover the new normal?

I remember when hurricane Irma went right over my house in 2017. It was no surprise — we had a lot of advance warning — but when it finally made landfall in Florida, there was not much we could do. It has been a similar story with the talent shortage in the United States. For more than 10 years, we have known that the baby boomers would be retiring at a rate of around four million per year.

Favorable conditions allowed Irma to rapidly intensify to a category five hurricane. Recent developments in the talent shortage include COVID-19, which caused many to re-think what they do, how they do it, and where they do it. In short, the very fundamentals of how we work in America are being challenged.

Fortunately, Irma weakened quickly to a category two and then to a category one. By contrast, the turnover storm appears to be strengthening. The job site Monster.com conducted a poll in June and published the results in July. Ninety-five percent of respondents said they were considering leaving their jobs. Burnout and lack of growth opportunities were the two top reasons given.

In my judgement, the Monster.com survey is unscientific and reflects a much different demographic than the plastics manufacturing sector. Even so, we are seeing some similar things from our vantage point “on the ground,” as are many others. In a recent article, Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., the President and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), posits that 30% annual turnover just might be the new normal.

In 2017, with the knowledge that Irma was coming, the right strategy for 6.5 million Floridians was to evacuate. Knowing that the talent hurricane is about to make landfall on plastics manufacturing, what can you do? Some will choose to evacuate (retire), but for those of us who prefer to stay and fight, we need a three-part strategy, which we will expand on next week.

The strategy must center on retaining your current workforce, having a proactive recruitment plan, and taking full advantage of alternative workforce options.

About the author

Paul Sturgeon is CEO of KLA Industries, a national search firm specializing in plastics, packaging, and polymer technology. If you have a topic you would like to see discussed, a company that is growing, or other ideas for this blog, e-mail Sturgeon at [email protected].

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