Forget the fact that it’s a really tight job market with unemployment at an all-time low and good talent highly sought after – employee retention is always important. Turnover is expensive and can have a negative ripple effect on culture, morale and hiring. Some attrition is natural, but how do you know when it becomes a problem? Sure, it varies by industry and occupation, but a substantial LinkedIn survey revealed an annual global turnover rate of 10.9% on average.
In 2018, the cost of poor retention was $600 billion, according to the Work Institute. A Washington Post survey found that 71% of U.S. employees are currently looking for their next job. PayScale research revealed that 66% of all organizations agree or strongly agree that employee retention is a growing concern.
Let’s state the obvious – It’s a good idea to keep the good employees you already have. Here are some of the top reasons:
♦The hiring process is complicated and lengthy. Think of all the steps you have to go through, from updating and posting a job description to on boarding.
♦According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) it takes an average of 42 days (that’s six weeks!) to fill a position.
♦The workload for the empty position still has to get done, so the impact on the remaining staff is significant and impedes productivity. Additionally, the hiring manager’s time is diverted to hiring, causing additional strain on the rest of the team.
♦SHRM also estimates that replacing an entry-level employee costs 50% of their annual salary. When replacing higher level employees or leaders, the cost skyrockets to as much as 250%.
♦When an employee leaves, unless their knowledge is documented and/or shared with others, it walks out the door with them.
♦High turnover makes teamwork harder. It takes time for people to bond with each other and work well together. Even when you have brought on a replacement, the team needs time to form a new dynamic and train their new coworker.
♦Where do you think the employee that left is going to work next? Most likely in the same industry, which could mean your competition. Their new employer will reap the benefits of their industry knowledge, experience, skills and potential.
If you are one of the 66% that believe employee retention is important, and you are seeing more than average attrition, keep reading. This will outline a 6-step process to help keep the talent you have in place.
“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.” Dale Carnegie
If you are losing talented employees at higher than average rates, the buck stops with you. Some things may be out of your control such as product quality, resources and overarching company culture, but you can improve retention by implementing the following 6 steps, which C.R.E.A.T.E. teamwork and loyalty. When a manager C.R.E.A.T.E.s a bond, a sense of mutual respect and loyalty forms.
In order to create an atmosphere of loyalty, you must sincerely care about the people that work for you. I heard this story from a company CEO I greatly admire. She was at a dinner party with several other business leaders when she overheard someone bragging that they now had four mortgages. The home they lived in, the lake house, the beach house and the mountain house. This person was obviously proud of what to them meant success. My friend responded that she had 92 mortgages – there were 91 people that worked for her and counted on her running the company in a way that they had a roof over their heads 24/7. Take responsibility for the people that look to you for leadership.
Caring does not mean that you are best friends with everyone or that you baby your team. It means you ask from a place of genuine interest and listen to what you hear. Meet people where they are – this makes them feel understood and comfortable. In order to do this, you have to have a high degree of “E.Q.” Find out how each individual likes to be interacted with. Tools like DiSC can help you in this area. Remind yourself why this person joined the team, what motivates them and what matters to them. If you don’t know, ask and listen to what they say.
Gone are the days that a manager got to be “boss” and everyone conformed to that person’s personality. We all have to work together. If you want to be more than just a boss, if you want to be someone that inspires loyalty, you have to care and show that you care.
Caring lays the foundation and the next layer is Respect. We touched on meeting people where they are in Caring, but taking it to the next level is respecting people’s differences. We all know deep down that we are more alike than different; yet, we can gravitate to more of the same. Respect – and appreciate – differences: differences of opinion, personality, style, motivation. Make sure that if you have a council of advisors or routinely seek input from your team, mix it up and include someone who will challenge you. If you have mastered caring – your team will feel secure in challenging you – respectfully.
When working with a group, make certain that everyone has a voice – balance the extroverts and introverts – and don’t let anyone take over or be left out. And NEVER say “because that’s the way it’s always been done.” BlackBerry – enough said. Different leads to advancements.
If you’ve gotten Care and Respect down, Engage should be easy! By now you know everyone’s preferences and needs and have let them know it matters to you. Have you ever had a manager that literally said, “I have an open-door policy?” If that needs to be said, then they probably didn’t really have an open-door policy. Either employees did not feel valuable or secure enough to approach or may have approached but gotten ignored, lied to or brushed off. There may be issues that you can’t address, but don’t ignore the concern. Be as honest as you can and/or seek help outside your department. HR can often assist.
When an employee feels like they’ve been lied to, it is generally not a blatant un-truth. More often it is a promise with no follow through or a manager’s blind spot. I once worked with a team that often talked about “being nice” and “helping each other” as being their creed. I think they actually believed that but when the rubber met the road and someone asked for help, it was marginalized, and that person was put on a PIP for not “getting it.”
Being Engaged means being a part of the conversation: doing what you say you are going to do and being the person you say you are. Being engaged also means being a part of the process in the day-to-day, not holding the mantle of the mission from some ivory tower.
This is not managing by the “everyone that shows up gets a trophy” method of support, but a genuine appreciation for people’s talent and effort. Yes, your paycheck is your reward for doing your job. However remember we aren’t just trying to be average. Genuine appreciation is a part of how you build a team of loyalists that will go the extra mile and gladly work for you again in the future. Acknowledge good work, helping the team and stepping up. Do it in a way that is respectful of both the person receiving your gratitude and the rest of the team. Calling an introvert out in the staff meeting is probably not the way to acknowledge them, and may do harm with others who crave public acknowledgement.
Never, ever take credit for your teams’ hard work. You will get caught and your reputation and trustworthiness will not recover. You don’t have to do a closing credits roll at the end of your presentation like a Star Wars movie but it should always be “we,” “our” or even “the entire department” worked very hard on this.
“Success is best when it’s shared.” – Howard Schultz (Chairman & CEO, Starbucks)
At almost every step of my career, I have been blessed with amazing mentors and teachers at all levels and across multiple departments. One of my best lessons was from a head of HR who said “99% of the time, there are three reasons why people don’t do what you want them to do:
- They don’t know you want them to do it.
- They don’t know how to do it.
- They don’t think it’s important enough to do it.”
The fourth and most obscure reason is that they just don’t want to do it. In all four scenarios, guess who’s fault that is – you got it, the manager’s. Set clear expectations, provide the tools/teaching for people to succeed and make sure they understand the big picture. As often as possible, avoid asking someone to do something without telling them why and how it fits into the overall objectives. Sometimes, that includes telling someone how to do something.
However, the more important is the why. As a leader, you have experience and expertise in your industry that is valuable and can help grow the careers of the people that work for you. Share your knowledge and teach others.
Teaching is the foundation for elevating someone’s career, but it goes beyond just what you have to share. As much as possible, put steps in place to help people on your team grow.
Use reviews and regular conversations with employees as an opportunity to figure out the best steps to help your employees elevate their career. Look for continued education opportunities, certifications, mentors, industry groups; etc. You could also implement a buddy or mentor system for onboarding new hires, which develops both the buddy and the new hire.
Check in often. If you are helping people grow, they won’t want to leave.
You can improve employee retention, engagement and attraction when you C.R.E.A.T.E. an environment that fosters loyalty and respect. Don’t do it and you’ll constantly be behind the ball on projects due to, attitude, turnover and gaps in staff. Don’t be average – be exceptional. Don’t be a manager – be a leader. You can improve employee retention and make your group, division or even company a place where employees want to invest themselves and stay for the long-haul.