Within the next year, it seems likely that three things will happen, each of which will put added pressure on employers. In likely order of occurrence they are:
Health care legislation – The odds are that some kind of health care bill will soon be signed into law. While this is generally a good thing, the devil they say is in the details. Regardless, it seems quite likely that health insurance in some form will be made available to all (most), without prejudice on the basis of pre-existing conditions. One of the unintended consequences of this is that lots of people, millions perhaps, who have stayed in jobs they really don’t like because of the difficulty in replacing their health coverage will bolt for greener pastures when that is remedied.
Economic improvement – By even the most pessimistic of projections, the current recession should wind down sometime in the next year. Here again, as conditions change, a lot of workers who have been biding their time (and biting their tongues) will find it considerably easier to move on to greener pastures.
“EFCA lite” – Though it now appears that the so called “Employee Free Choice Act” legislation will not be passed in its current configuration, my bet is that congress will succumb to pressure and give unions something that makes the organizing process considerably easier, a change that is justifiably not especially welcomed by the business community.
Taken together or independently, the message for employers couldn’t be clearer. Despite the fact that we currently enjoy an “employer’s market”, we would do well to take steps now to preserve, and where possible enhance our reputations as leaders, employers, and business people. How?
A great place, no, a necessary place to start is in taking steps to rekindle trust in ourselves and our organizations. In our recently completed “Post-AIG Leadership Survey” 95% of the 286 mostly management level respondents indicated that rebuilding trust (internally and externally) is a Significant/Very Significant factor in successfully emerging from the current business and economic crisis.
If nothing else, leadership is the earned consent of followers, consent that begins with the trust that, as leaders, we are who we say we are, and that even in the absence of guidelines, we will do what is right. Make no mistake, that faith has been broken, not bent, and either by our own actions or by presumed association, our institutions and leaders, each of us, has to some degree been painted with the same brush of suspicion.
The implication for those of us who would lead others is that we must re-earn that trust, and in a larger sense, re-qualify for duty. It doesn’t matter whether you were busily approving bushels of crazy, shady loans at Countrywide, or diligently minding your p’s and q’s as an honest, hard working floor manager at Claim Jumper Restaurants, or a Delta Air Lines in-flight leader. We all bear the burden. As Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo put it recently, “Corporate America, after the immediate financial crisis, has now found itself thrown into a far more corrosive and durable crisis – a crisis of trust. The victims of recession may not differentiate between guilty and innocent parties – everyone in corporate America could take a share of the blame, deserved or not.”
Let’s get going!
A thought leader in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website at www.contentedcows.com, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows