How to Avoid “I Quit” in Times of Overwhelming Work Loads
by Vickie Bouffard
Stress is the beginning. As an example, loan professionals have been processing applications—for SBA CAREs Act, Paycheck Protection Program, and home refinances—and are beyond stressed due to the high volume of their workload. Applications have inundated these professionals with more work than they can humanly process. They are working with processes and systems not built for this level of volume. They have demanding customers who call for the status of their application and ultimately rant that their application was not processed first.
Loan processors, underwriters, and loan officers are working overtime to dig out from the overwhelming number of applications. Their patience is running thin, dealing with backlogs reworks and work stoppages. They feel like it’s an impossible situation where frustration mounts and motivation runs out. Tired of working overtime, tired of their tools not working like applications and systems should, employees in this type of situation will reach their breaking point and will literally stand up from their desks and say “I Quit.” People come to work and believe it or not; they do want to do a “good” job.
Rework drains morale. Nothing is more of a Debbie downer than redoing work. I once noticed my team members were reworking 25% of their production, and I could see their morale, enthusiasm, and job satisfaction take a nosedive. For example, when loan processors already have too many files to process, reworking files is very un-motivating. They get job satisfaction when they finish it, not when they rework it. When this situation develops, it is the job of leadership to recognize the issue, keep the team’s spirits up, and keep them productive.
Morale Booster – The How
As leaders, it is our job to remove the bottlenecks, backlogs, and reworks. During times of crisis, processes and systems are many times stressed to max capacity causing delays, edits, and work stoppages. These challenges compound to increase poor morale, anxiety, and costly turnover, which swiftly creates the potential for customer loss. It takes leadership who can build streamline systems and processes, identify the root cause for reworks and backlogs, as well as see the potential risk and reward, all in short order.
If nothing changes, it is a matter of time before the team reaches its breaking point. The more days that go by, the more stress piles up and the more team members think about “I Quit.” Leaders must collaborate to make quick, calculated decisions to simplify processes and keep costs in check. When leaders manage morale with intention and help associates feel great about coming to work each day, they reduce turnover, hold costs in check and create a culture of engagement.
During HARP loan days, my leadership saved a Fortune 50 company $3.7 million per year in operating costs while I motivated my team to run to the finish line to achieve top performer month-over-month for four consecutive years, streamlining the loan closing process. The team was motivated to win because I showed them how it was possible. The circumstances of COVID-19 remind us that humankind is connected. As leaders, we should also remember to stay in tune with each member of our team. The ultimate cost of “I Quit” is high. The investment in authentic leadership is priceless!
Go, TEAM Go! Let's Run to the Finish Line!