As a society we’ve spent centuries reducing risk in our communities and now is a good time to make it a key focus in our businesses. By correctly identifying and understanding all our risks, we are better placed to clear the frequent hurdles which come our way, usually courtesy of cyclical events which are beyond our control.

Businesses are good at insuring against garden variety risks like theft and security but what if a greater exposure is masquerading as our most valued assets – our highest achievers and strongest teams?

What happens when those vital, trusted people who we entrust every day with our commercial IP suddenly move on? How do you insure against that? The loss of key talent has such a domino effect across an SME organisation that it’s not even possible to measure the full impact. Many industries are currently facing a cycle where the demand for labour exceeds the supply, leaving some vulnerable, exposed and unprepared. Even for those on the front foot, there is still the hit to morale and the overall cost burden that comes with staff transitions to consider.

The majority in leadership positions understand the importance of having a good team and treating them well. When it comes to the staff retention challenge, most have embraced the recommendations and theories around the importance of ensuring a great company culture, work life balance, career paths and progressions, training and development, praise and positivity, perks and wellness packages, flexible hours and even the idea of individuals designing their own job descriptions.

Despite all these initiatives, we are currently facing a cycle where the balance within the workplace ecosystem has swung so far towards the employee that business continuity and growth can be on the line, even for those trying to do everything correctly. 

The response to this challenge doesn’t lie in simply offering more rewards. If we haven’t already, at some stage we will hit an unsustainable point of diminishing returns. When a re-calibration is required, how can leaders engineer workplace harmony, reduce their risk and find a bullet proof way to ensure transition is worked through while change is celebrated. 

One approach is to reduce a business model’s reliance on recruiting above-average people or star performers and instead focus on building a business structure and systems that supports the average person to achieve above average results. This idea reduces our dependence on the need  to hire unicorns to gain a competitive advantage. Rather than pouring a disproportionate amount of energy into more and more disappointing retention strategies, employers can embrace transition as a positive and welcome part of operating a business because as each new person is hired, there’s an injection of enthusiasm and momentum that can be harnessed.  If employers can make this shift then their organisations will be perfectly positioned for the post-Covid business world, no longer be at the mercy of staff churn and optimised for opportunity. 

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