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Last week I talked about giving your folks a great start in your organization. So what about the other side – when people leave? I know, I know … sometimes you just want to part ways and minimize the pain.

But the truth is that there are still implications even after they’re gone. Perhaps they’ll refer your next great customer or employee. They’ll probably be talking about their experience to friends and associates.

So it’s in your best interest to have a good breakup. People do move on, after all, and it doesn’t always mean you’re a bad person.

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How much do you actually design the experience for the new person on your team? I ask, because so much of that person’s attitude is going to be formed by what happens on that first day.

Imagine that you’re going into a store that you’ve never seen before. You heard some positive things, so decided to check it out on a whim.

You’ll know within the first two minutes whether this is going to be a place you’d like to come back to. The layout. How attractive the products are. Whether someone welcomes you. Even the smells and sounds.

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I was talking with someone today who doesn’t have more money they can give employees – they’re stretched financially. So the question becomes: How can we motivate our employees?

This is a very common trap that people fall into. But if you think about it, you know that money isn’t everything. It’s part of a complex mix of factors which can be different for each individual.

But before we get to that, it’s critical to first answer: Does each employee feel that they’re being paid a fair living wage? For many (most?) hourly workers, the answer can be no. In which case, getting to fair compensation must be your first priority. Without that, you’ll be battling employee turnover until your business ultimately fails.

So now let’s get to those who ARE being paid decently. What motivates them?

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True leaders understand that their role is to serve others.

That sounds like a contradiction, right? When we think of the typical boss/employee model, it’s very clear which direction serving should go.

You’re the boss, and others aren’t. So they should serve you.

The reality is that this isn’t sustainable.

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Many businesses are struggling to build their teams right now. This is a recurring topic, of course, but magnified by the pandemic and recent social unrest.

The media and politicians like to focus on minimum wage, which is often a source of unfairness and discrimination. But that’s nowhere near the whole story.

Minimum wage attempts to provide a baseline. But it doesn’t apply to many situations, and certainly doesn’t provide a living wage in Northern Colorado.

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You see the signs over town of companies desperate for new employees. But this isn’t because there are no good workers.

File:Now Hiring.png - Wikimedia Commons

But you might want to notice which businesses are doing just fine with their workforces. They’re retaining great people and attracting new ones at a comfortable rate. You just don’t hear about them because they’re getting back to delivering great value for customers.

What’s the difference?

The answer comes through thinking about employees like you think about individual customers. You often ask questions like:

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As you call people back to the office, you may have a hard time figuring out how strongly to demand that everyone follows the same rules.

There are so many variables! Nature of job tasks, desire for people to connect face-to-face, costs, sanitizing requirements, and so on.

What it comes down to is this: You want to have enough flexibility so that everyone feels reasonably productive, comfortable and supported.

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Rebuilding your work environment post-pandemic is going to be a big challenge! Sure, you have to work around government regulations and community rules. You’ll put cleaning regimens in place and spacing requirements.

But that’s the easy part. People are always much harder.

The problem is that each person has their own requirements, unique comfort levels, and new work patterns developed over the course of a year.

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Recently I had a chance to connect with the Fort Collins Chamber’s Talent Summit, which focused on the 2021 emphasis of workers returning to the office. There were a number of golden nuggets that I’ll explore in the coming weeks.

McKinsey has done a big study on Return To Work, and discovered that 29% of employees would consider switching employers if required to return to the office full time. That’s a stunning number, something we couldn’t have predicted a year ago.

If this transition is mismanaged, you could easily lose over a quarter of your workforce. And probably the most valuable workers, since they have the greatest mobility to other companies.

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2020 was so sad because of limitations on physical gatherings. I know many organizations which have cancelled holiday parties and celebrations as a result.

It’s the wrong way to think about it.

Sure, you can’t do what you’ve traditionally done, and it’s disappointing. But the real question is: what can you do with available resources?

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