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Mark Craemer No Comments

The best organizations are those that hire and retain the best and brightest employees. Keeping these people engaged and satisfied is essential. If you’re not worried about employee retention, then you must work at a rare company these days. Consider the following:

  • Currently, there are about 8.6 million people unemployed in the U.S. and nearly 10 million job openings.
  • A record 4.3 million people left their jobs in August and, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this job quitting trend is showing up in every sector they track.
  • A survey by BamBooHR found that nearly one-third of employees left their job in the first six months of employment: top reasons include poor onboarding, lack of clarity in job duties and expectations, and a less than stellar boss.
  • Recent research by Built In found that the cost of replacing a highly-trained employee or executive can exceed double their annual salary.
  • According to Wills Towers Watson, almost three-quarters of employees who fall in the “high-retention-risk” category are seeking to leave because they see no opportunities in their current organization’s career ladder.

If you’re a leader in your organization, especially in HR, you should find all of this very alarming. Blaming it on millennials who feel no company loyalty is only partially accurate.

Despite what may seem like an insurmountable challenge, there are many things that are entirely within your control. These things will not only help you retain your top talent and save time and money but will likely increase overall employee engagement and productivity.

  • Improve your hiring process to ensure you bring in the right people for the right positions and develop a strong on-boarding process.
  • Ensure that managers have annual or semi-annual conversations with each direct report regarding career growth and opportunities.
  • Offer professional training and development opportunities such as executive coaching to build greater leadership capacity.
  • Provide career advancement pathways beyond managing groups or teams for valuable individual contributors.
  • Offer ample opportunities to take on leadership positions throughout the organization.
  • Ensure those with direct reports are regularly measured on how well they manage and grow their people.  
  • Stop inadvertently encouraging employees to seek out and then provide counteroffers from other companies before offering to pay them what they should be earning.
  • Encourage an environment that expresses gratitude for work well done. This is not limited to bonuses and other material rewards, but specific and heartfelt appreciation delivered publicly (when possible) can be tremendously important in job satisfaction.  

“Most organizations simply assign too much importance to financial compensation and too little to the other side of the equation,” writes Patrick Lencioni in his book The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business. “They often do this because they believe that people who leave their organizations are doing so because they want more money.

“This is an understandable mistake because that is what many employees say during exit interviews when they’ve already made up their mind to leave,” continues Lencioni. “However, almost no employees willingly leave an organization where they are getting the levels of gratitude and appreciation that they deserve just to make a little more money, unless, of course, they are so grossly underpaid that they can’t justify staying on the job for the sake of their livelihood.”

As I’ve written previously, simply expressing appreciation to your people can go a long way towards making employees feel valued. It doesn’t overcome an inadequate salary, but it certainly factors in when deciding whether to change jobs.

Provide a warm and welcome on-boarding process, clearly define the role, responsibilities, and expectations, ensure managers are effective at directing and supporting their direct reports, provide career advancement opportunities, and show appreciation regularly. If you’re doing all of this and salaries are commensurate with the positions, you will likely retain your best employees.  

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