Human Resources Management in the Economic Recovery

Sometimes I say something that seems obvious to me, and people in the audience start taking notes.  "Aha!" I say to myself, "maybe that wasn't so obvious."

This week I was in Las Vegas presenting a course on how the global and local economy effects foodservice, with historical perspective, for the Women's Foodservice Forum.  I mentioned that the quit rate, the percentage of workers who leave their jobs voluntarily, dropped in the 2001 recession and its aftermath; then rose when good times returned, then plummeted in the 2008-09 recession.  Quits are still running very low.

Here's a practical use for the economic insight.  You have a manager, and you see tell-tale signs that he may not be doing a great job with his subordinates.  But you don't see a high turnover rate among those subordinates, so you ignore the problem.  What do you think will happen when the economy recovers?  Yes, his people will quit as soon as they can find other work.  As Warren Buffett said, "You only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out."

Actually, it's not impossible to find out now, when the tide is in.  Look closely for signs of employee discontent.  The signs will be more subtle, but I bet they are there.  Warning: if you wait until the employees start quitting, you've waited too long.  Good employees will again be hard to find, and sooner than you might think.  So make sure that all of your supervisors are encouraging staff members, and showing them the respect they deserve.

Incidentally, the Women's Foodservice Forum got rave reviews from all the attendees I met (even those who did not attend my sessions).  If you are in the business, whether at a junior level or a senior level, plan on attending next year's forum.  And men are welcome!  I had looked forward to being the smartest man in the room, but there were a few guys in both my sessions.