The Expensive Truth About Staff Attrition

The Expensive Truth About Staff Attrition: It’s Hurting Your Business

people first, teams

Most companies are hyper-focused on the big numbers – revenue, profits, market share. But there’s a sneaky factor that can seriously mess with your bottom line and long-term success: staff attrition. Sure, the upfront costs of hiring and training replacements are obvious. But the hidden impacts of high turnover? Those can be the real budget-killers.

The Productivity Drain

When someone leaves, their absence creates a void that ripples through teams and departments. The remaining employees get weighed down with extra work, leading to overload, burnout, and a productivity slump. Quality drops, deadlines get missed, and customer satisfaction takes a hit. It’s a vicious cycle.

Brain Drain

Those seasoned veterans walking out the door? They’re taking a goldmine of institutional knowledge with them – intel on processes, relationships, contacts and industry ins-and-outs that’s hard to replace. This brain drain cripples operational efficiency, decision-making, and the ability to navigate complex challenges. It’s like flying blind.

Culture Crush

A company’s culture relies on a stable, tight-knit workforce that shares values and understanding. But high turnover? It erodes that fabric, making it tough to maintain a positive, cohesive environment. Morale plummets as great talent exits, breeding more disengagement and attrition. It’s a self-perpetuating problem.

Strategic Scramble

Successful businesses run on long-term initiatives driven by dedicated teams working towards shared goals. When key players leave, critical projects get derailed. Momentum screeches to a halt, delays pile up, and costs skyrocket. Your ability to achieve those big-picture objectives is compromised.

The Money Pit

We’ve covered the obvious stuff like hiring costs. But high turnover creates a massive money pit through lost productivity, missed revenue opportunities, customer churn, and mounting expenses from restructuring teams. It’s a serious profitability issue that can sneak up on you.

What’s Causing Staff Attrition?

Leadership Burnout

When bosses are running on fumes, communications break down, teams get lost and misaligned. Cue mass confusion and disengagement that pushes your best talent out the door. Fast.

It’s up to the whole organisation to support leaders to beat burnout before it happens with preventative measures.

Additionally, in the absence of strong leadership, teams are likely to feel disengaged and unmotivated…

Team Burnout

According to Mercer’s 2024 Global Talent Trends Report, over 80% of employees are at risk of burnout this year. 40% of those said that exhaustion was a contributing factor, while 37% said they were struggling with an excessive workload. It’s a serious problem, characterised by cynicism, lack of motivation, difficulty concentrating and serious health problems.

Unsurprisingly, two of the things found to make a real difference to employees were psychological safety and a sense of purpose. These are crucial to cultivating a culture where staff feel safe to ask for help, prioritise what is important and take steps to combat burnout.

Change Resistance

Mandating sweeping changes from on high, without any staff buy-in? Get ready for those resentment and retention levels to skyrocket. On the other hand, involve your people in co-creating solutions and they’ll stick around.

The bottom line? Invest in your workforce for serious dividends. Prioritise retention strategies, build a supportive culture of self-care and give folks room to grow. Engaged employees are way cheaper than playing catch-up on turnover costs.

Are staff attrition and burnout throwing a wrench in your operations?

Burnt-out teams are having a ripple effect, resulting in lost talent, unhappy clients and decreasing market share. We’ve worked with many companies, experiencing these kinds of issues. We’ve been able to pinpoint the root cause…
and it might not be what you think.

Sound familiar? Need help cultivating a thriving, people-first, workplace? We’ve got your back. Book a virtual cuppa with us and let’s talk solutions.

burnout strategies

Beating Burnout: How Organisations Can Support Their Leaders

people first

What exactly is burnout?

Burnout is a huge problem in the workplace. And leaders are extra vulnerable to burning out, due to the demands, pressures and responsibilities of their role. Burnout is no joke. It’s characterised by:

  • serious emotional exhaustion
  • cynicism
  • lack of motivation
  • difficulty concentrating
  • health problems
  • feeling unfulfilled at work

Not good. Consequently, preventing burnout must be a top priority for any organisation that wants to hang onto top talent and keep creativity, innovation and motivation high.

How can we beat burnout?

Balance is key

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First things first: encourage leaders to take time off. Leaders need rest, relaxation and recharging just like everyone else. Make sure your time off policies are crystal clear and that leaders feel comfortable taking vacations, sick days, mental health days, ‘duvet’ days, or whatever they need to avoid going into zombie mode. Leaders often feel pressure to minimise time away from the office, so set the right tone and lead by example. Promote a culture that truly values work-life balance and self-care. Don’t just pay lip service to the idea. Walk the walk yourself. If senior management never takes time off, that sends the message that vacations are a no-no. Managers should actively encourage leaders to take time away, and be sure that adequate cover is available so leaders can completely unplug.

Focus on flexibility

On top of holiday/vacation time, giving leaders flexibility in their schedules and workloads can help them manage stress. Options might include flexible start/end times, the ability to work remotely, job sharing, adjusting responsibilities after stressful deadlines. Even small things like avoiding early morning meetings, allowing hybrid working, or encouraging no-meeting Fridays can make a difference. Figure out what types of flexibility work best for each leader’s situation. Check in regularly to reassess and provide new flexibility options as needs change.

Lighten the load

Unrealistic workloads are a huge stress and can trigger burnout. Consider all the responsibilities you’ve loaded onto leaders and trim any unnecessary or redundant tasks. Having a clear company vision can help everyone to do this. Clearly define roles and expectations, and bring in extra support if needed. During crunch times, reshuffle priorities and deadlines to keep expectations reasonable. Leaders should feel empowered to push back if asked to take on too much. Adjusting workloads shows that you care about employees well-being.

Collaborate and communicate

To understand leaders’ challenges, you need open and frequent communication. Maintain an open door policy so leaders feel comfortable voicing concerns or frustrations. Check in regularly instead of waiting for them to reach out when they’re already burned out. Proactively manage stress by talking early and often. This shows leaders you care about their well-being. It also gives you opportunities to collaborate on solutions before burnout hits.

Invest in leadership development

Leaders need continuous development to expand their skills and handle ever-changing demands. Provide training, mentoring, coaching and other growth opportunities. Host workshops and send leaders to conferences to stay current in their field. Investing in their growth empowers leaders to tackle challenges and stay engaged in their role. Thus preventing boredom and burnout. In this way, you recognise leaders that have evolving needs and are committed to developing talent within your organisation.

Create a culture of self-care

An organisation’s culture around self-care plays a huge role in preventing burnout. Make sure senior management models healthy work-life balance, takes time off, and avoids exhaustion from overwork. Institute policies that focus on well-being and discourage excessive off-hours communications. Remind leaders to take breaks, unplug from work, pursue hobbies, and prioritise their physical and mental health. Small things like offering standing desks, encouraging walking meetings, providing healthy snacks or yoga classes send the message that self-care matters.

Stay aware and offer help

Keep an eye out for any warning signs like lack of engagement, increased cynicism, absenteeism and declining performance. Reach out to support leaders before things escalate into a bigger issue. Recognise that leaders may downplay challenges they’re having for fear of looking weak. Continually evaluating mental health and catching problems early makes a massive difference.

Leaders need to know help is available if they’re struggling with stress-related mental health problems. Provide easy access to confidential counselling services and mental health support. De-stigmatise seeking psychological help by talking about it openly. Share stories of other leaders who have benefited from mental health resources. Investing in these services shows you prioritise employees’ emotional well-being.

Beat burnout together

Preventing burnout requires a team effort across the entire company. By providing more flexibility, reasonable expectations, strong communication, development opportunities, encouragement of self-care, and access to mental health resources, you can create an environment where leaders can thrive without burning out. Taking these preventative measures will lead to more engaged, empowered leadership and greater success for all.

Is your organisation struggling with burnout? Would you like to create a culture where well-being matters and your leaders feel comfortable prioritising their mental health and encouraging others to do so?

We can help! Get in touch for a friendly, no-obligation chat.

And in the meantime, why not download our drastically different to-do list It’s a fantastic FREE tool to help manage your work/life/health balance.

Leadership lessons we learned from the Barbie movie

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If you have recently watched the Barbie movie, you’re likely already aware that Greta Gerwig’s creation is so much more than just a kids’ film. It’s a super pink, campy romp through serious subjects such as feminism, capitalism and the nature of autonomy.  Here at Bryter Work, we couldn’t resist taking the leadership lessons that we picked up from the film, and exploring how we felt that they applied to our own experiences.

If you haven’t seen the film yet, and are planning to, maybe read this article afterwards, since it contains some minor spoilers!

leadership lessons we learned from the Barbie movie Death

“Do you guys ever think about dying?”
– Barbie

So apparently this is not the thing to say mid massive-choreographed-dance-with-all -of-your-Barbies-and-Kens.  Cue the music stopping and everyone looking a bit shocked and nervous.  Although it was super awkward, and went against expectations, Barbie had to have the courage to be vulnerable and let people know that this was truly what she’d been thinking about. 

Her vulnerability and courage to tell the truth, garnered Barbie support from those around her.  In my journey, I’ve found it an interesting and sometimes tricky balance. One where I share challenges and my feelings with those around me, while still taking an attitude that problems are there to be figured out and figure-out-able. The relationships with the teams that I’ve built and the colleagues that I’ve collaborated with have run deep and long term as a result. And Barbie gives us a great reminder that sharing enough of your humanity as a leader helps to build high trust, supportive environments.

“I have no difficulty holding both logic and feeling at the same time. And it does not diminish my powers. It expands them.”

– Lawyer Barbie

Barbie Leadership Lesson 1:  Barbie shows us that there’s strength in vulnerability and that saying the thing that needs to be said might be awkward at first, but it’s also necessary.

Leadership lessons Barbie movie

“We sell dreams, imagination, and sparkle. And when you think of sparkle, what do you think of next? Female agency”
– Mattel CEO

It’s the fact that we live in a world where feminine imagery and feminine coded items (e.g. pink, glitter, high heels, dresses) are seen as frivolous, or lacking in intelligence, that makes this joke work.  When the ideals of femininity are so enmeshed with the perception of lower ‘value’, the Barbie movie playfully brings us to pause and consider our unconscious biases around femininity and our unconscious ingrained views of women who embrace it.

As female leaders at Bryter Work, we are in a space where we can bring our femininity (and also lack of!)  to work and not be constrained by stereotypes.  Outside of the Bryter Work bubble, we recognise that many of us in business still face these stereotypes and challenges. And so Barbie leads the way in gently helping to question these.  A lot can be learned from the Barbie movie approach to playful rejection of these narratives, as well as its unapologetic fun and feminine look, while still radiating intelligence and poignance. 

Barbie Leadership Lesson 2:  Just because it’s feminine or playful doesn’t mean that it can’t be serious too. And addressing biases doesn’t have to be confrontational.

leadership lessons Weird Barbie

“Either you’re brainwashed, or you’re weird”
– Barbie

Although Barbie can be criticised for setting homogeneous beauty standards for millions of women, Barbie would have been stuck without getting the most diverse views.  Weird Barbie is the Barbie who got played with too hard. She lives in her Weird Barbie house with the ‘cancelled’ dolls (Earring Magic Ken, Sugar Daddy Ken, Growing Up Skipper, Video Barbie). These dolls know much more about the ‘real world’, as a result of the world’s reaction to them.  This special insight means that they don’t get caught up in the group-think exhibited elsewhere in Barbie Land. And Barbie can trust them to give the advice that she needs to overcome her problems.  

It’s a perfect example of why great leaders don’t surround themselves with people exactly like themselves. In addition to this, they see value in the perspective of someone who has faced marginalisation and might be considered an ‘outsider’.  Arguably Weird Barbie shows the greatest leadership qualities in the movie. She holds a non-judgemental space for decision-making, and can always be relied on for her homemade maps, diagrams, sense-making analogies and no-nonsense advice.

Barbie Leadership Lesson 3:  Great leaders seek out diverse ranges of opinions. They recognise that unique insight comes from listening to marginalised voices.  They also are happy to ‘own’ their weirdness, for the same reasons!

“It is the best day ever. So was yesterday, and so is tomorrow, and every day from now until forever.”
– Barbie

In Barbie Land, everything is perfect. And so are the Barbies. At least, that’s how they perceive themselves and their world. So, when things begin to change (cold showers, cellulite, an awareness of mortality, flat feet), it is painfully uncomfortable and unsettling. In fact, when Stereotypical Barbie (Margot Robbie) reveals her flat feet, the other Barbies gasp, scream and even start to retch. This comically extreme reaction echoes the relatively normal feelings of anxiety and resistance that most of us have to change.

Leaders aren’t immune to these feelings either. In fact, when she sees what the Kens have done to Barbie Land, Barbie shouts “I HATE change!” and flings herself hopelessly on the ground. However, Barbie is equipped with resilience, excellent communication skills, and a supportive coach (in the form of Weird Barbie), along with her own courage and curiosity, tenacity and emotional intelligence. Thus allowing her to not only manage change effectively but also guide and mentor others through change. Thanks to her, Ken now believes that he is “Kenough”.

Barbie Leadership Lesson 4: Resistance to change is normal. The best leaders use empathy, honesty, curiosity and kindness liberally (including being kind to themselves)!

leadership lessons we learned from the Barbie movie Ken

“Why didn’t Barbie tell me about Patriarchy?”
– Ken

It’s hard to avoid, but Barbie really asks some interesting questions about feminism. These got us thinking about structures of power and inequality in business and the workplace.  

The Patriarchy in the real world doesn’t work as simply as Ken imagines it should do (he’s sadly prevented from performing an appendectomy in the real world, even though he’s a man with a clicky pen!).  From this, It might be easy to think that feminism ‘has won’ due to the fact that it’s not enough to just be a man to take positions of power or influence.

In Barbie Land, an extreme opposite power dynamic of Matriarchy prevails.  The Kens at the start of the film had only been created for the benefit of Barbie and so lack autonomy and purpose. They therefore fight and bicker with each other as a result of their insecurities.  When the Kens take power, the balance swings fully in the opposite direction. The power is taken to the exclusion of all the Barbies (and Allan, the least Alpha of all the male dolls).  When the Barbies eventually take the power back, they once again exclude the Kens from their democratic process.  

These uncomfortable narratives play with the persecutor/victim roles, never allowing the toy characters to find a path outside of these two positions. The one exception is Stereotypical Barbie, who opts out by choosing her own destiny. Although the Kens were happy to hand back control and power to the Barbies, it left them back in the childlike position of lacking autonomy and basic rights.

Movie vs. reality

However, as the real world showed Ken, the reality of patriarchy is far more nuanced than the simplified version of the power dynamics of patriarchy vs matriarchy played out in Barbie Land.   As Barbie sadly notes in the film, the real world wasn’t what she expected it to be. Her creator Ruth agrees “It never is.  And isn’t that marvellous”.

As a female leader, but also as a leader wanting better representation and equality for marginalised groups, we can sometimes get disenfranchised by what we see as a lack of progress in feminism in life, business, or any other cultural shift that we might want to see.  

In the real world, we just have to listen to the heartbreaking and personal song written by Billie Eillish for the Barbie Movie:  What Was I Made For? The message of the song makes clear that our culture is still commodifying young women like Ms Eillish, who receive criticism for presenting too masculine, or too feminine from both men and women.  It is still hard for women to express themselves authentically, and not just for the pure appeasement of others, without being objectified, criticised, mocked or harassed.

And yet despite this, Barbie shows us that there is hope. That this human experience of getting to know ourselves and each other is a beautiful and painful part of the important journey that is life.  And that life is precious because of its imperfections. Not just despite them.

Barbie Leadership Lesson 5:  Problems are rarely totally black and white. And they rarely have clear answers or a perfect end destination.  Being a leader is about having the wisdom to find the beauty in the human experiences of discovery, and the courage and resilience to keep trying to make things better.

One last leadership lesson…

Leadership can be tough. And lonely. Crafting a style that feels true to you and developing your leadership qualities and skills can be a real challenge.

Bryter Work’s experienced and empathetic coaches can help with your leadership development and professional identity, coaching you to become the best (and most authentic) leader you can be.
And whether you want to wear hot pink heels or rollerblades, sneakers or slippers, that’s a-okay.

Get in touch to chat about out how we can help.

Seeing the unseen princess and the pea

Seeing the Unseen – revealing hidden blockers

coaching, people first, teams

As a leader, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day operations of your organisation. You might be focused on meeting deadlines, managing employees, and making sure everything is running smoothly. However, it’s important to remember that there may be unseen problems lurking beneath the surface. Just like the princess in Hans Christian Andersen’s tale, you can sense that there is something wrong, but can’t quite put your finger on what it is. And without knowing what is wrong, you have no way of resolving it. Our coaches are experts at helping organisations with seeing the unseen blockers preventing them from achieving their outcomes.

Using Systems Thinking to see the unseen

One way to discover hidden problems and reveal the elephant in your office is systems thinking. This approach involves looking at your organisation as a whole, rather than just focusing on individual parts. By examining the relationships between different parts of the system, together we can identify areas where changes in one area may have unintended consequences in other areas.

Seeing the unseen with Visual Thinking

Another useful tool for uncovering these hidden issues is visual thinking. This approach involves using metaphors, diagrams, maps, and other visual aids to represent complex ideas and information. By visualising the workings of your organisation, you can gain a deeper understanding of how different parts of the system are interconnected and clearly see where potential problems may be lurking.

Making change with the help of a Systems Coach

Once you’ve identified potential problem areas, it’s important to take action to address them. This is where systems coaching comes in. Our systems coaches can help you develop strategies for addressing complex problems and implementing changes in a way that minimises disruption to your organisation.

Of course, it’s not always easy to identify unseen problems. It can be difficult for a busy leadership team to step back and take a broader view. That’s why it’s important to cultivate a culture of open communication and encourage feedback from employees at all levels. By listening to the voices of everyone, you can gain valuable insights into areas where your organisation may be struggling.

Ultimately, the key to uncovering unseen problems at work is to be proactive. Don’t wait until a problem becomes too big to ignore before taking action. By using tools like visual thinking, systems thinking, and systems coaching, we can help you can stay ahead of the curve and ensure that your organisation is operating at its full potential.

What is a people first culture?

people first

The world of work is changing. Once it was enough to have a job, with a decent salary and benefits. Now people are looking for more. Whether that be flexible or hybrid working, learning development and career opportunities, a better work-life balance, or the chance to do something that will make a difference in the world. A people first culture is one that prioritises the needs of employees and customers above all else. In this article, we will explore what a people first culture is, why it matters, and how companies can cultivate this type of culture.

what is a people first culture (1)

So, what exactly is meant by a people first culture?

A people first culture is a company-wide approach that puts the well-being and happiness of people at the centre of its values and operations. This means that the company’s decisions and actions are focused on the needs and desires of its employees, customers, and other stakeholders. In a people first culture, the company values the individuals who make up the organisation. Staff are recognised and appreciated, in order to help them feel more connected and motivated. rather than viewing them as a means to an end.

 

Why does it matter?

A people-first culture is important for several reasons. First, when employees feel valued and supported, they are more likely to be engaged and committed to their work. This translates to better performance, increased productivity, and higher employee retention rates. Additionally, customers are more likely to be loyal to a company that treats them well and puts their needs first.

In contrast, a company that prioritises process over people may experience high turnover rates, low employee morale, and negative customer experiences. This can lead to a damaged reputation, decreased revenue, and a lack of trust from both employees and customers.

Corporate employees are more productive than ever—when they have the freedom to unlock their true potential and work when they choose to work and from where they want. Remote working has also shown to improve the company’s profits.

Forbes

 

How to cultivate a people first culture

Creating a people-first culture requires a concerted effort from everyone in the organisation. Here are some ways that companies can cultivate this type of culture:

1. Lead by Example

Leaders can model the behaviour they want to see in their employees by prioritising the well-being of their team members and demonstrating that they value them as individuals.

2. Listen and Respond

Companies must create an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, ideas, and concerns. It’s essential to actively listen to feedback and respond to it with actions. Building your coaching capability is an excellent way to achieve this.

3. Provide Support

People first managers provide the necessary resources and support for employees to succeed in their roles. This includes training, mentorship, and tools to do their jobs effectively. A coaching approach is not only a highly sought after leadership skill, but also provides this much needed support for high-performing, collaborative teams.

4. Recognise and Celebrate

Recognise and celebrate the accomplishments of your employees. Celebrate success together, being proud of team efforts as well as individual achievements. This promotes a culture of teamwork. Recognition might be in the form of public recognition, company newsletter mentions, awards or communities of practice.
Consider also ‘celebrating failure’, when you’ve tried to do something differently but didn’t quite make it. There are lessons to be learned and failure shows that you are reaching for beyond the status quo as a team!

5. Protect psychological safety

Transformational leaders hold a shared expectation with members of their team that they will not embarrass or punish anyone for sharing ideas, taking risks, or asking for feedback.
The Enterprise Change Pattern builds the psychological safety needed to create inclusive, self-sustaining change. After all, change is inevitable. Leaders who successfully embed the Enterprise Change Pattern into their organisation’s DNA, promote these people first qualities. Consequently, they gain the advantage of a self-sustaining change program by ensuring that everyone has their voice heard and feels included.

6. Prioritise Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

A people first organisation values diversity, equity, and inclusion. People first companies cultivate a workplace that is welcoming to all employees, regardless of their background or identity. In this culture, each person’s unique perspective, background and thinking style is celebrated, thus avoiding groupthink.

 

In conclusion, a people first culture is a mindset that puts the well-being and happiness of people at the centre of everything a company does. By prioritising employees and customers, organisations can create a positive work environment, increase engagement and retention, and improve customer experiences. By cultivating a people first culture, companies and leaders can create a more sustainable and successful future for themselves and their stakeholders.