“People are definitely a company’s greatest asset. It doesn’t make any difference whether the product is cars or cosmetics. A company is only as good as the people it keeps.”
– Mary Kay Ash
The attitude that employees are expendable and replaceable is slowly changing as businesses realize that investing in good employees is the key to success.
Keeping a stable workforce allows you and your employees to build an atmosphere of trust, where all are aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to construct a team that is far stronger than the sum of its parts.
PriceWaterhouse-Cooper’s Saratoga Institute estimates that high turnover can cost organizations between 12 and 40% of their pre-tax income, a figure that can cripple a business at a time when profit margins are shrinking. Before trying to keep employees, you have to first understand why they choose to leave one employer for another. This will allow you to tackle the underlying issues behind high turnover, or your inability to attract and retain the best and brightest.
“Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.”
– Steve Jobs
Why Do Great Employees Leave?
These are some of the primary issues that cause staff to leave and seek alternative employment:
1) Low Trust in Management. Layoffs may be inevitable for many employers in a down economy. How you manage the process will either strengthen your team, or erode it. Consistency in communication and direction is important, and establishes trust. A poor manager will send out a flurry of directives, often contradicting each other, and will soon have staff questioning management’s competence. If management keeps changing direction, why should your employees apply their full attention to a task, when they know that they will soon be told to do something else or move to another department?
2) Burnout (Work-Life Imbalance): Naturally, as a manager with a task, the temptation is to seek out your best employees, simply because you know that they will do a great job. Great employees can usually accomplish more than the average employee. Their work is better quality. Supervisors sometimes overload a great employee (remember the saying, if you want something done, give it to a busy person). The problem is that your top employees may soon find themselves with a disproportionate workload.
Usually, they are paid at the same rate as everyone else, and begin to feel resentful that they are working much harder than their colleagues. Be aware if you are overloading your best employees. Be more selective in how you assign your tasks, saving your best workers for times when you really need a job doing well.
3) Little Advancement or Unwanted Promotion: Many employees leave simply because they feel that they have little chance of promotion, especially when they see less capable people move up the ladder. Often, your best employees are modest and don’t constantly remind you how good they are, so it is up to you to take action and promote the right people.
Conversely, sometimes your best employees find themselves suddenly thrust into supervisory positions when they really don’t want the responsibility or stress. Some people just want to put in a good shift and earn an honest day’s wage. It’s up to you to have this conversation with people. Find out what your best employees really want, and try to meet their goals.
4) Managerial Micromanaging: Good employees like to be given meaningful projects, and then be able to complete it without constant distractions. If you are micromanaging, (constantly telling the employee what to do and how they should be doing), you may be de-motivating staff. If you think about it, micromanaging is literally telling your employee that you believe they are not bright enough to do the job.
If you have hired the right employees, trust in their initiative and let them get on with things, letting them know that you are there if they need you. By doing this, you are giving them respect and ownership of their work, which leads to greater job satisfaction.
5) Disregarding Opinions: As a manager, you should crave feedback, because it lets you know what you are doing well and what you are not doing well. Welcome and invite suggestions and feedback at all levels; not only does this improve morale, the people working on the front line often give great suggestions about how to work smarter.
6) Money and Extras: Naturally, money is always a sticking point, especially in a tough business climate. If an employee finds a job with far better pay, there isn’t a lot you can do, and that is a simple fact of business. However, you can minimize the risks by making sure that your wages and benefits are as competitive as you can afford. Try to avoid penny-pinching measures. Little extras, such as having free or low cost tea/coffee/soda available, are a simple and small measure towards creating employee goodwill.
7) Work-Life Balance – Respecting Time: Many companies do not respect the work/life balance of employees and assume that they will gladly devote their entire life to the cause. Rather than assign time for training, employees are asked to take their training material home and read it, or they are expected to complete paperwork in their own time.
When people are excited about their work and feel a strong sense of purpose in their company’s mission, they’ll gladly work more hours than requested. Many people are seeking more work-life balance; they’re willing to sacrifice money for more family and vacation time.
Great employees are aware that they can always find another job, so you should try to keep them or you risk being left with a workforce that is fine, but not excellent. Changing some things, such as wages, might be difficult if a business is struggling, but others are a simple matter of changing approach.
Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan.
– Sports quote by Tom Landry
HOW CAN YOU ATTRACT & RETAIN THE BEST EMPLOYEES?
1 – TRUST & TEAMWORK: Develop Supervisors who build trust with their teams. The supervisor relationship greatly impacts an employee’s decision to stay or leave.
2 – CULTURE: Identify what it is about your organization that is unique – what do you offer employees, that others don’t? Build on this. Have a strong first 90-day orientation period. First impressions are important, so make sure you’re presenting your best impression and providing the best entry to your organization, with solid training, orientation, follow up and feedback. Before hiring, assure that you are hiring people aligned with both the job goals, skills and your company culture.
3 – LISTEN TO & VALUE PEOPLE: When you ask someone for feedback and really listen, you’re communicating to them that you value them. Ask for feedback – then listen. What are things that make your employees feel more valued? What do your employees want to achieve? What are the factors that are causing people to leave? Challenge old policies – are your rules driving good people to leave?
4 – TEAMWORK: Create a positive team environment, one in which people get along and cooperate willingly with each other.
5 – PURPOSE: Create meaningful work and projects. People need to feel excited and engaged in their work. When assigning projects, communicate how the project or task is important and aligned with the mission/vision of the business.
Even if you are a good manager, good people will still leave, so don’t forget the power of the exit interview. Exit interviews, completed by a neutral person (not the employee’s manager) will give you a great oversight of how you can change things and make your workplace a happier, more productive place.
“Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.”
– Stephen Covey