Safeguarding Your Self-Storage Business Against Employee Turnover

As more jobs begin to become availabe, self-storage owners should take steps to safeguard their operation from employee turnover.

March 11, 2011

5 Min Read
Safeguarding Your Self-Storage Business Against Employee Turnover

By Megan Stanish

At the end of 2010, the media began to declare that hiring was on the rise. A December Wall Street Journal article reported there was an increase in job postings across a number of industries. Then CNN stated in January that many economists and experts believed the coming year held the promise of dramatic hiring gains. These media organizations and others have predicted this turnaround for months, noting all sorts of indicators, such as a recent increase in the hiring of childcare workers.

While this is great news for many companies, employers who have used the downturn to justify squeezing every drop of productivity out of workers at the expense of the employees well-being ought to be nervous. The end is near for Scrooge-like practices as well as the peace of mind that staff will remain loyal under any circumstances.

For employers who took this tactic, voluntary turnover is almost certain to rise as employees learn there are new outlets for their efforts and talents. In addition, these employers likely will have a more challenging time hiring new employees as word of their actions gets around.

New Opportunities for Employees        

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the change in total separations year over year isnt what is startling. In fact, total separations has remained relatively static. Instead, what tells the story is the proportion of quits to layoffs and discharges.

In October 2009, 50 percent of private-sector separations were due to layoffs and discharges, with 42 percent attributed to employees quitting. In October 2010, those figures flipped: 50 percent of separations were due to employees quitting, and 43 percent were due to layoffs and discharges. In other words, Americas workforce is beginning to recognize there are new opportunities, and employees are leaving the companies that have taken advantage of them for the last few years.

There are promising signs, specifically for the storage industry. For instance, in an article titled Self-Storage State of the Industry 2011: Financing, Construction and Development, published in the March 2011 issue of Inside Self-Storage, industry leaders indicated the financing market is improving. For certain, there are still significant concerns and challenges, particularly regarding new development, but many indicators point to hope for the immediate future.

Factors of Employee Turnover

As the economy continues its slow return to normal, employers need to consider several factors that may contribute to a rise in their employee turnover, including exhaustion, pay, disillusionment, delayed retirement and the return to home of formerly at-home parents. The relative impact of each will be determined by the actions taken by individual employer.

Exhaustion. Some companies took advantage of the economy to preemptively cut labor costs by reducing staff more dramatically than business required, leaving remaining employees with a significantly greater workload than before. Although theres no promise a new company will respect an employees need for a break and a manageable workload, the fact that an employer has already proven to have little concern for an employees well-being will quickly drive that employee away once new opportunities arise.

Pay and disillusionment. Citing financial woes, companies around the country froze pay rates and halted promotions. To be fair, these actions kept companies afloat in many cases. However, it was the rare organization that redoubled its efforts to ensure employees continued to be recognized for their work.

During flush times, its easy for a company to be generous in pay and appreciation. In tough times, managements true colors show. Those that remained positive and supportive and who tackled challenges creatively with an eye on their employees needs and fears will reap rewards in the coming months. The others likely will face increased turnover.

Retirement. In the years leading up to the recession, fears abounded regarding an impending worker and management shortage. Many tenured employees were expected to retire shortly with too few young people waiting in the wings to take over. Those worries were put on hold when the economy slowed, because these folks could not retire as planned.

With stocks creeping higher again, as well as improving job prospects for family members theyve been supporting, individuals who delayed leaving work will again start to plan to retire soon, leaving gaps in staff as well as in knowledge.

Return-to-home parents. Many at-home moms and dads returned to the workforce as their spouses and partners were laid off or forced to accept reduced hours or salaries. While some of these newly re-engaged employees may remain in the workforce, in many cases, as the original working spouse or partner becomes able to support the family again, the initial at-home parent may return to his or her preferred place of work: the home.

The coming return to a solid economy is positive, absolutely. The unemployment rate will start to decline as jobs become available. Those who become employed will feel more secure in spending more money, creating greater demand for products and services, prompting companies to produce more. The increased work volume will require more staff, driving up job openings, creating more employment opportunities and more security for those who are employed. Its a positive process. And yet companies that have taken advantage of their employees over the past few years should be concerned. Their challenges, in the form of turnover, are just beginning.

Megan Stanish, director of client services for Michaels Wilder, has been involved in recruiting and recruitment marketing since 1994. Her professional experience includes client support, operations and management. She currently provides guidance on recruiting and employment trends, recruitment marketing, and interactive tools and social media. Michaels Wilder is a marketing and talent-management services company delivering Internet, mobile, print and broadcast advertising solutions. For more information, call 800.423.6468; visit .

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