There is a lot of talk about employee tenure and retention of top talent, and how it has changed over the years. What was once looked upon as job-hopping is now widely accepted as just another step up the corporate ladder to better opportunity and more money. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, from August to September of 2017, the number of people who quit their jobs jumped from 2.5 million to 2.8 million – making it the highest the number has been since April of 2008. Knowing what we now know about tenure and the growing acceptance of job-hopping, the impetus now falls on employers to provide enough incentive to convince their top performers to stay. But, with the allure of raises and promotions coming from all directions, what can an employer offer his or her employees that will entice them to stick around? Let’s look at some options.
According to a Gallup poll, the most common reason why people quit their jobs is career advancement or promotional opportunities. While it may be difficult for a manager to watch a top employee move on, it’s certainly better to see them transition into a new role at the company where they will be successful than watch them leave the company altogether. In order for an employee to flourish, he or she must feel challenged and be fully invested in his or her job duties. If the employee has remained in the same position for a period of time and no longer feels challenged or engaged, they may start looking to make a move. Providing them options to grow within the organization can allow them to flourish in another area of the business. While the manager will still need to recruit and train a replacement, the original employee may serve as a resource for training the new hire, as well as eliminating the need for recruiting a candidate to fill their new position.
This may be the most obvious option. The same Gallup poll states that “pay and benefits” are the second most common reason why people leave their jobs. No matter what other perks an employer offers – telecommuting, flexible hours, paid time off, a great company culture – none of these things will pay an employee’s mortgage or put food on the table. Employers are always looking to cut costs – that’s a given. But there comes a point when they must weigh the cost of increasing a top employee’s salary or offering a bonus against the cost of searching for and recruiting a replacement. Once a qualified candidate is located, he or she must be interviewed, hired and trained, all on the company’s dime. Finally, the employer must take into account the lost revenue for the time the position goes unfilled or is covered by another employee whose work responsibilities may suffer as a result.
Far too often, employers aren’t aware of what needs improvement in their organization until their top employees have already left. Traditionally, interviews are conducted when an employee begins a job, and occasionally when they leave a job. Retention interviews are a perfect opportunity for employers to sit down with their top employees and find out what’s going on – what’s working, and what’s not. Are they happy, and if not, what needs to change? Hindsight is 20/20. Why wait until the best employees are gone to find out what it would have taken to make them stay? Giving employees a voice may be all it takes to not only mend tears in the corporate fabric, but to empower employees enough to make them feel like they’re making a difference. Retention interviews can prove an ideal way to find out what needs to change in a company or department before it’s too late.
It’s been said many times that people don’t quit their jobs, they quit their managers. The simplest way to prevent that is to make them feel appreciated. Every employer should view their employees as their most valuable asset, and employees should know this. Credit should be given where credit is due, and individual and team victories should be celebrated. Also, employees should be trusted to work independently, without micromanagement. When employees know they have their managers’ trust, they’re motivated to work that much harder in order to not lose it. A truly productive team is one who knows their value to the company, and values being a part of it.
Nearly all companies require growth to remain profitable. Growth requires change, and change requires ideas. Often, these ideas are generated by creativity. All successful companies employ creative people in some form or another, and these creatives keep the company moving ahead. But creative people don’t work well when confined to a box. They need the freedom to spread their wings. Management should encourage employees to explore new ideas and share them with the team, then build off of what works and what doesn’t. 3M’s Post-it notes and Amazon’s Prime loyalty program are two examples of hugely successful ideas thought up by creative employees. If an employer stifles their employees’ ideas, another company will eventually benefit from those ideas.
In today’s job market, employees have options. The more unique and in-demand their skill set, the greater the number of options from which they can choose. But employers have options too. The challenge for employers lies in choosing the right option before their employees begin exploring theirs. Failure to do so can result in numerous recruiting costs, as well as time spent filling positions of departed employees. A top performer can be difficult, if not impossible to replace. Are you doing everything you can to keep yours from leaving?