PAYING ATTENTION TO RETENTION
With the ongoing progression of the state’s reopening, headlines are shifting; no longer focused on what we have been through, now emphasizing what is to come. Though it is impossible to predict the future, it certainly seems reasonable that the forecast could be correct: a mass employee exodus is coming. What does this mean? Now more than ever, paying attention to retention will be key to keeping your key players.
PAYING ATTENTION TO RETENTION
While many talented professionals were hesitant to make a move during the pandemic, they are now more open to considering new opportunities. In fact, a jaw-dropping 52% of employees report that they plan to leave their jobs this year. 1 As a business leader, you are now faced with two very important questions:
How can you stop it?
And do you want to?
If the thought is that turnover is a natural evolution of the workforce, it is true. But as a leader, it is important to remain on the driving end of those decisions, not the receiving. Creating an environment in which nobody would ever want to leave might sound impossible, however, falling a few feet short of that goal is better than never striving to achieve it at all. Imagine if you had a rock-solid team of “A” Players and a line out the door of more wanting to join. Imagine what the future could hold if your highest potentials never went to your competition, they only joined from them. Would those scenarios allow you to achieve more and (perhaps more important) enjoy more?
So yes, it is fair to say that paying attention to retention is more essential than ever, knowing what is likely to come.
RETENTION REQUIRES FOCUSING ON WHAT MATTERS
Inc.com recently published an article that states more than half of employees (52%) plan to leave their jobs this year. Here is what their research found:
- 71% more employees are more disengaged in 2021 than they were at the beginning of 2020, and 66% of employees said they would be more engaged at work if their employer improved company culture.
- 46% of employees feel less connected to their company or colleagues since the start of the pandemic; most employees blame a lack of communication (26%) or lack of effort to make remote employees feel connected (25%).
- The research found one in four employees (25%) reported work-life balance as the reason they would search for a new job.
What can we deduce from this? What kind of culture will inspire and retain the talent you need? How can employees get involved and feel part of something bigger than themselves? What is the right balance of virtual and in-person interactions? These are just a few of endless questions that should be asked within the leadership of an organization. Consider though, that the answers are not found at the top, within leadership. What matters to people is not the key to retention. What matters to the person is. It is time to stop theorizing and time to start asking. What matters to each person on your team and how can you ensure that they feel valued?
RETENTION REQUIRES SERVANT LEADERSHIP
If you had to name the names of your most important clients, who would immediately come to mind? If the answer is anyone other than the names of your employees, it is likely time for a paradigm shift. Your people are your most valued asset, and they should feel as though you are dedicated to serving them the same way you do your external ones.
Authenticity is paramount. “You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want” … To a certain extent, this famous quote by Zig Ziglar is commonly mistaken. If the reason you want something from others is that it will benefit you, that is inauthentic behavior, and few will trust it. If your intent is to genuinely serve those around you, you have begun to create a relationship of authenticity. Work on asking purposeful questions, perfecting your active listening skills, and share responses and professional recommendations that are rooted in the intention of serving those you lead. If you truly believe in what you say and the intent behind why you are saying it, others will as well.
“Listen with the intent to understand, not the intent to reply.” – Stephen Covey
UNPLACED VALUE BREEDS LOST RETENTION
When employees feel valued, engagement increases. Employees are exponentially more likely to remain loyal to their employer when engagement increases. “Value” can look like many different things, though, and how one feels valued will vary from person to person. Therefore, as a leader, it is up to you to ask the important questions and listen to the responses with the intent to reply and act as a servant leader. The following list includes common reasons why employees will consider new opportunities:
- Lack of recognition
- Increased burnout
- Bored or under-challenged
- No growth opportunity
- Lack of benefits or employee perks
- Dissatisfaction with management
- Cuts to salary and/or bonus, or lack of raises
- Suffering morale, negative company culture
INQUIRING MINDS PROMOTE RETENTION
As it relates to professional purpose and fulfillment, there are two critical elements that are highly intertwined but distinctly different: the responsibilities and the relationships. Retention cannot happen without constant care and feeding around both. Pay attention to retention and ask your employees these important questions:
- What is going well? What wins are you experiencing?
- Are you facing any challenges? What do you need help with or making your job harder than it needs to be?
- How are you feeling about the work that you are doing?
- How would you describe your morale?
- What new projects/clients/meetings/responsibilities would like to be involved with?
- Do any of our processes seem inefficient? How can we fix them?
- What would you love to fix or change about our department? Leadership? Team? Company? Commute? Hours?
- Envision yourself a year from now; how is that person different than today? What do we need to do to take perpetual steps to prepare you for that progression?
- On a scale of 1-100, how confident are you that you are in the right place, doing the right things, with the right people? How can that number be improved?
- Every company does things well, but what is good that you believe you could help make even better? What is a 7 that could be a 10?
- Who do you work with (me included) that frustrates you, and why?
- How can I be better for you as a leader? What should I be doing more or less of?
- What can I do to help make you more successful?
- If you were ever to be open to an opportunity outside of our organization, what would it look like and how can we create that here together?
Confidential surveys are good for disclosing issues that people do not feel comfortable sharing. However, confidential surveys do not lead to retention; candid conversations do. In order to gain retention, ask the hard questions.
1 – Inc.com – Half of Employees Plan to Leave Their Jobs This Year
This blog was produced in partnership with Karen Schmidt of Sanford Rose Associates® (SRA).