Congratulations to LinkedIn for some eye-popping research with the Talent Trends 2014 survey which shows that only 15% of employees are not open to looking at new employment opportunities. Here’s a harsh reality that’s worth taking a moment to consider, People never leave companies, they only ever leave managers.”

With the average employee replacement cost being estimated at 1-3x their annual salary, it pays to retain great staff. In this article I’m going to outline what you can do and a simple R.E.T.A.I.N. formula to ensure you keep the best employees in your business. (How to recruit great employees I’ll save for a future post)

Considering the Talent Trends data along with the latest Exit Survey (also by LinkedIn) which shows that the top reasons for Australians leaving their jobs were:

  • A lack of advancement opportunities (22 per cent).
  • Unsatisfactory leadership or senior management (19.5 per cent)
  • A lack of challenge in their job (13.8 per cent)

The interesting thing about all three of these reasons is that they point directly back at issues with leadership and management. Let’s address each one of these in turn.

A Lack of Advancement Opportunities

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Perception is reality”? What I see in many businesses is managers that struggle to sit down once a year with their staff to review their performance and career goals. Employees adore managers who are prepared to say, “I believe in you” and help stretch their vision and create brightness of future for their career. Many managers fail to create a career plan with milestones and goals to keep employees engaged and passionate in their roles.

As an employer, you need to encourage and support your employees in improving their skills and education. Prepare and invest in training your people to perform at the next level well before the opening comes up. What is also important is to have a “Hire from within” policy that gives preference to your existing employees for any new roles that open up within your organisation. It’s a lot more inspiring to see colleagues being promoted than new people being hired from outside. It also protects and reinforces your company culture.

Unsatisfactory Leadership or Senior Management

Just because someone is a star performer in their allocated role does not mean that they are great management material. Technical and people skills are completely different skills at opposite ends of the spectrum. Furthermore, few companies invest in grassroots level leadership programs to encourage and grow leadership at all levels. Leadership programs tend to be more for senior managers, however by then it can be too late.

Practicing any new skill without appropriate training creates bad habits and poor outcomes. Imagine giving your teenage children the keys to the car and telling them, “Give it a go, you’ll figure it out.”. There’s a significant chance they will end up injuring themselves and any other unfortunate soul who gets in their way. The same is true for any employee or manager in your company with the casualties being your staff and your customers. Practice makes perfect only when done correctly.

It is also important to regularly set aside time to engage with and listen to your employees. When employees feel like management is listening, they feel valued and their motivation increases accordingly.

A Lack of Challenge in the Job

This is again where managers fail to really understand their employees or to challenge them with stretch goals or innovation projects. Any job can be fulfilling if the person understands the importance of what they are doing and receives recognition and appreciation from their colleagues and managers for a job well done. Put in data collection programs so you can regularly monitor how your employees are doing on key responsibilities.

Why not come up with some additional projects for your employees to work on in their spare time. Reward entrepreneurial thinking – your staff usually know where the problems and opportunities lie within your business; if they can help you increase revenues or reduce costs, why would you not reward them accordingly?

So here are six points that can help you R.E.T.A.I.N. your key staff

  • Relationships must come first. Teams that have fun together, stay together. Build relationships with your employees both inside and outside the workplace.
  • Educate Have a career development plan (and training budget) for each of your employees. Even if promotion is unlikely, it is important that people are given the opportunity to learn and grow.
  • Talk with your staff one on one regularly. Let them know how they are doing. Be sure to LISTEN and take on-board their feedback especially before making decisions that affect them.
  • Accountability – when you promise to do something, do it. Likewise, ensure you follow up and hold all your staff accountable also. This is one of the most important keys to building a high performance team.
  • Inspire – When you make your staff feel like that are part of an important cause and that their work is important and valued, it adds to their job satisfaction and motivation.
  • Notice – Catch your staff doing things right and give them recognition and appreciation for a job well done.

On the flipside of course, the survey data can also be great news if you are looking to hire new staff. After all, 85% of all employees are open to looking at new opportunities. :)

So what do you think, does the 85% of employees being open to leaving come down to leadership or is it something else?

If you would like a complimentary personal leadership consultation or a leadership analysis of your organisation, please contact us.

Details of our next leadership training course can be found here.


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