The Economic Recovery F-You Factor…

Kris Dunn Current Affairs, Engagement and Satisfaction, Lizz Pellet

The winds of change blow slowly, so it’s no shock that it may take up to four years for the nation’s jobless rate to fall back to a normal level of around 5%. We continue to read countless stories of downsizing, rightsizing and layoffs and many organizations have cut so close to the bone a coyote wouldn’t even stop to sniff around – there’s nothing left. When the economy comes back around though, will organizations who have been slashing and burning employees be ready for their remaining top talent to make a mass exodus? Don’t believe this is going to happen? It’s easy to predict for two reasons…the research and the vibe.


I came across the Adecco Workplace Insights Survey recently, which found that the most serious threat to organizations in this recession may be the recession’s end itself showing an indication that most employers will see a high level of turnover when the market rebounds. There have also been a lot of studies correlating employee engagement and employee satisfaction – which has a direct effect on employee retention (think Gallup). Another piece of research? Leadership IQ Group surveyed 4,000 individuals who watched colleagues get laid off and were left behind to carry on and found:

• 75% said their productivity had declined
• 70% said the quality of products/services had declined
• 81% said customer service had dropped
These numbers should make us all gasp. Imagine the revenue being thrown out the window when 75% say they get up to go to work each day knowing they’re not performing at peak levels. And imagine the great results customers and clients are receiving when the quality of products and services admittedly stinks – and there isn’t even the client service to make up for it! It’s a rosy picture that makes you want to just jump up every morning, grab a cup of joe and rush right into work cuz you’re lovin’ it!

Now for the Vibe.


Organizations that have stayed true to their values and done just about everything to keep the company going – before resulting to letting their (literal) human resources go – are going to be in good shape. Employees still have a sense of loyalty and are focused on keeping their jobs. But organizations that have slashed and burned in the human area or have not been upfront or trustworthy to their employees? They’re undoubtedly in trouble because as soon as employees see a crack in the glass, they are very likely to say, “F-You! See you later, alligator!” and take their KSA’s elsewhere.

The difference between these organizations is a difference of organizational culture and those who choose to react versus respond. There are gobs of case studies about how organizations who are steadfast in their values and organizational culture respond to adversity and challenges (think J&J and Tylenol) fare far better in the long run from a financial performance and employee engagement perspective than those who react (think Enron whose corporate value of “ethical” was carved in stone in the company lobby).

So, what can be done to combat the possibility of this F-You mass exodus? The obvious place to start is diving into the trenches and pulling together a significant retention strategy. AMA programs have been offered for years and individual consulting groups like Wonderlic can help. I was also recently introduced to a new approach at that might just revolutionize the retention tools and processes. The tools and resources you can turn to are out there – and you can choose any variety of approaches to address retention… just know the bottom line is this: do something now before you turn around and find that your best players have left the building waiving a big ole middle finger at you saying, “F*&! you!”

Editor’s Note – This guest blog post is courtesy of Lizz Pellet who is the Chief Culture Officer at EMERGE International where she supports organizations in measuring culture and creating employment brands. She is the author of a handful of books and a fellow at Johns Hopkins University which means she’s smart, super smart. Lizz has also written Getting Your Shift Together: Making Sense of Organizational Culture and Change. And if you don’t like a book title like that… well, we can’t help ya.