In the End, it is All about People

  • August 13, 2010
  • Scott

According to the Kansas City Business Journal, 40% of US Professionals want to quit.  Wow.

But lets turn out attention to why so many professionals want to quit: their employers view them as a liability rather than an asset (read the article, it is there, between the lines). And with all the layoffs over the last 18 months, there’s more work spread across fewer employees.  In an environment of more work and stress, and fewer bonuses and benefits, we can understand why people might want to quit.  I’ve heard people say that someone should feel lucky to have a job- but equally, the employer should feel lucky to have their employees stick with them through hard times. It is, after all, your best employees who can still leave when the economy is down, and find a new job.

In another post, I tried to explain the dark side of the staffing service “body shops” out there: BPM experts are not a commodity, despite their best efforts to treat us so.  The big staffing firms I previously wrote about are also not committed to their people in any meaningful way.  When a project kicks off, the firm staffs up via hiring and contracting. But what happens when the project is over?  At these big firms, they just let go of all the people that can’t immediately place on another project.  People aren’t an asset to these firms, they’re a liability:  An obligation to pay salary and benefits. This is especially true of firms based outside the US who  leveraging local resources on a temporary basis (the locals are staffed up and down for each project independently in many cases).

We recently reached out to colleagues from a previous project – and we weren’t going to be surprised if they weren’t still working with the same customer.  But you could say that we were surprised they didn’t work for the big consulting company any more.  You might be thinking, sure, some low-level programmers got let go when the project finished. But no.  We’re talking about the people who were entrusted with running the project and managing the customer relationship.  Rather than leveraging their talents in another project, they were shown the door.

It must, at times, be hard for people who work at Fortune 500 companies, with a wealth of people walking their halls that have worked more than 10 years at the firm to understand the amount of turnover that happens at a typical big consulting body shop.  Or to understand how these firms put their teams together on short notice, and disband them equally quickly.

As a small firm, we sometimes have to hire talent to meet the demands of a project, but we’re hiring talent to reach a new plateau, and we’re taking on a commitment to continue their employment beyond just the project (otherwise, we’d just offer a contract).  We just celebrated a colleague’s one-year anniversary at BP3, and he’s about to embark on his 4th project with us.   And it isn’t a burden to pay salary to these employees. They’re our only real asset as a firm – their knowledge, experience, and commitment to our customers.

I hope in this time of economic turbulence, more employers will realize how much their people mean to their success.  And I hope we never forget that at BP3.

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  • Regarding the numbers of people that want to quit, Another article I should have referenced:

    “In each of the past three months, more employees quit their jobs than were terminated, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is good news for the economy but bad for individual businesses: when jobs become more plentiful, the first to exit are often the business’s most ambitious employees — the innovators, the risk-takers, the future leaders. ”

    Wow. It says something that more people quit than were terminated in this environment. It says employers are (so far) not stepping up to the plate in a uniform fashion. As if that weren’t bad enough:

    “The cost of replacing an employee is estimated at up to 250 percent of annual salary.”

    I believe not taking care of your employees falls under the heading of “penny wise, pound foolish”.