And What You Can Do About It.
You did it! You finally hired and trained the last open position. After silently rejoicing over how everyone is working together and achieving key goals, someone submits their resignation. The cycle starts all over again and it’s so disappointing. Likewise, the trickle-down effect is hard to control. And, of course, morale suffers. Employees left behind feel resentful and frustrated. And, to top things off, an increased workload strains productivity. Unfortunately, diagnosing high turnover doesn’t come with one straightforward answer. Therefore, it’s time to figure out why good employees leave.
- First comes awareness. Begin by talking to employees and listening to their concerns about management, culture, belonging, meaningful work, career growth and more. Hear employees out even when you can’t fix everything. It shows you value their contributions.
- Second we observe. Be aware of any changes in employee behavior or engagement. People can’t always articulate their frustrations, but behaviors may be your first clue. Don’t ignore a sudden change in demeanor.
After gathering info, categorize common triggers and develop strategies to address them. From our experience, solutions tailored to your employees will get the best results. Keep in mind, some departures are completely out of your control. When employees choose to move for a spouse or partner’s career, stay home with kids, return to school or change career paths, there is not a whole lot you can do.
Let’s focus on six areas you can control.
Relationship with boss
Unfortunately, bad bosses are prevalent and one of the top reasons why employees quit. However, you can minimize this at your company by developing and nurturing leadership skills in managers. A good boss can help retention as they learn what motivates, challenges and energizes their team members. By empowering bosses and giving them latitude when making decisions, they can better address concerns.
On the flip side, monitor how bosses communicate with team members and immediately address any lack of self-awareness and unprofessional conduct. Folks don’t always realize when their soft skills are lacking. Don’t worry, these skills can be developed. Managers with high emotional intelligence can positively impact an entire company.
There are many ways that companies can show they value employee contributions: fair compensation, meaningful benefits, ongoing feedback, end of year bonuses, listening and taking action on valid complaints/concerns and keeping promises. Recognition doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Genuine appreciation for an employee who drove results can have a positive ripple effect.
Employees also need to feel connected to the bigger picture. Explain how their contributions are supporting the overall strategy and mission of the company.
Your top performers may be susceptible to outside opportunities if there isn’t a clear career path. Therefore, don’t assume they are in their forever position. Ask them about their aspirations and understand not everyone wants to manage people. What types of educational support do you offer? Do you encourage passion projects? After training or education, discuss any new or different responsibilities where they can leverage and grow their new skills.
A large portion of our waking lives are spent at work and no one wants to feel bored all the time. Employees will seek stimulating work elsewhere rather than waste their talent. If managers identify ways to challenge and inspire workers, job satisfaction will increase. What a gift to help channel someone’s talent so they feel proud of their accomplishments.
BONUS: even if they move on later, they could return or provide great referrals.
Trust and autonomy
Trust is the foundation of every strong relationship including those in the workplace. Do your office policies signal trust or control? Flexible schedules and allowing employees to work from home are becoming expected. By allowing employees to shape their work environment and hours to maximize their performance, you demonstrate trust. An atmosphere of control and micromanagement becomes part of the corporate culture. Managers are stressed out by the leadership team and then start micromanaging employees.
With a focus on autonomy, the focus shifts to getting the work done. There’s less concern for how it gets done because you trust employees to determine how they work best within guidelines. This trust and autonomy improve job satisfaction, engagement and productivity. Most importantly, they’re less likely to leave.
Sales dips, layoffs, hiring freezes, negative press and merging with another company all leave employees feeling uncertain about their job and financial security. Most companies experience one of these, but how you choose to handle them is paramount. Does leadership have a clear vision for moving forward? Is it effectively communicated? Do employees respect leadership’s judgement? Be transparent with your team and give them reasons to stay.