Roberta Chinsky Matuson
Creating Exceptional Workplaces and Extraordinary Results
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Amazon Scraps HQ2 Plan in New York: What it Means for Employers Nationwide

Amazon is coming for your talent.

Amazon delivered some shocking news last week when the company announced it was canceling its plans to build an expansive corporate campus in Long Island City, New York. Employers in and adjacent to their proposed new co-headquarters city are probably relieved to hear this news, as it’s likely many would have lost talent to Amazon. While they may be celebrating today, the rest of us should not be. Here’s why.

In a statement released by Amazon, the company notes the following:

“We are disappointed to have reached this conclusion — we love New York, its incomparable dynamism, people, and culture — and particularly the community of Long Island City, where we have gotten to know so many optimistic, forward-leaning community leaders, small business owners, and residents. There are currently over 5,000 Amazon employees in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Staten Island, and we plan to continue growing these teams.

“We do not intend to re-open the HQ2 search at this time. We will proceed as planned in Northern Virginia and Nashville, and we will continue to hire and grow across our 17 corporate offices and tech hubs in the U.S. and Canada.”

Here’s what this means for employers nationwide.

Hang onto your talent. Amazon has plans to continue growing their teams, which means they may very well be doing so in your backyard. Only this time, they won’t be throwing out a warning shot. Most likely you won’t even know this is happening in your area until they’ve successfully poached your talent. There are lots of things you can do today to ward off a potential ambush.

Here’s one simple idea that could yield tremendous results. Over the next week, meet with each team member and ask:

What were your hopes and dreams when you accepted your position with our company?

Has your dream become a reality?

If not, what can I do to make this right?

Now is the time to assess your leadership team. I see companies spending a ton of money trying to outdo one another in terms of perks and crazy office designs that few appreciate. Tales of kegs being opened at all hours of the day or exotic snacks that are making employees fat seem to be all the rage. Yet, here we are. Employees are less engaged today than back in the sixties when a steady job was the key to engagement. Studies consistently show that employees don’t leave companies. They leave their bosses.

I get it. It’s a lot easier to buy an employee’s affection than it is to deal with lousy leadership. Those organizations with great leadership have little to fear, in terms of a company like Amazon ramping up their hiring right in their backyard. Employees who are connected to their leaders will most likely choose to stay right where they are planted. Those with weak leaders have a decision to make. Either move these leaders out or engage a coach to help them make the necessary behavioral changes needed to become what I call, magnetic leaders. These are leaders who are great at getting talent to stick around.

Start updating your succession plan. Raise your hand if your company has a current succession plan. If your hand went up, then we’re done here. The rest of you will want to continue reading.

Eventually, everyone leaves their company. Knowing this, what’s your plan when someone goes? We’d like to believe our best employees will remain with us forever. However, that’s not realistic. That’s why every company needs a succession plan. If your best sales leader went away tomorrow, how would you replace this person? If one of your top managers announced their retirement, what would that mean to the rest of the organization? Who could move into this spot and successfully fill this role? What type of training might this person need to be given to make this seamless transition?

Amazon’s announcement today reminds us of how important it is to have a talent plan in place. Employers need to plan for tomorrow today, while there is still time to hold onto their most treasured asset–their people.

©Matuson Consulting, 2019.

What’s the real cost of employee turnover in your organization? Head over to my free employee turnover calculator. Send me the results and I’ll send you a free copy of my latest e-book, Guard Your Exits: The Executive’s Guide to Employee Turnover.

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