Imagine--you have been working late to finish an important project when your project manager walks into your office and tells you she has been offered a better job. This is the same person you handpicked, trained, and recently gave a pay raise. As she turns to depart she says, “There are others thinking about leaving too.”
What went wrong? How are you going to finish this project? Who will be next to leave? The dread is starting to sink in.
Employers face enormous challenges when they consider the increasing difficulty of finding skilled people, a more demanding younger workforce, and a growing population of older workers heading toward retirement. In the next 10 years, HR professionals expect three out of 10 employees in their organization’s workforce to retire.
The difficulty in finding and keeping talented people is having a catastrophic impact on many businesses and industries throughout the world. In addition to those retiring, surveys show one out of every three people plan on quitting their jobs this year. The greatest threat employers face is losing their best and brightest to the competition. That’s a lot of talent leaving organizations and just the beginning of what many people have described as the "perfect storm."
Money and benefits are important, but studies show most employees leave for other reasons. Obviously, a certain degree of turnover is unavoidable, but with a small amount of effort organizations can make a major difference. Your retention plan should address the following key components.
- Hire the best and avoid the rest. Cisco CEO John Chambers said, "A world-class engineer with five peers can out produce 200 regular engineers." At Yahoo they would rather leave a position open than hire the wrong person. Instead of waiting for people to apply for jobs, top organizations spend time looking for high-caliber people whether they have a job opening or not.
- Redesign your orientation program for new employees. The old saying, "You don't get a second chance to make a good first impression" is true in this case. Organizations experience the highest level of turnover during the first 90 days on the job. The purpose of onboarding is to quickly assimilate the new person into the organization, so make the first critical days stand out as a positive experience. This is a great opportunity to make new hires feel proud to have chosen your organization.
- Provide flexible work schedules adapted to the needs of the individual. In today’s workplace, flexibility rules. A one-size-fits-all approach has long since lost its effectiveness. Workers will migrate to a company whose benefit packages and schedules help them meet the demands of their lives, whether they are single parents, adults who care for aging parents, older workers, younger workers, part-time workers, or telecommuters.
- Provide career development. For many people, learning new skills and advancing their career is just as important as the money they make. In a study by Linkage, Inc. more than 40 percent of the respondents said they would consider leaving their present employer for another job with the same benefits if that job provided better career development and greater challenges.
- Create an early warning detection system. Ask employees to let you know if they hear of people who are thinking about quitting. Advance notice will give you an opportunity to try to prevent the departure. One practice Applebee's put in place is the "Turnover Alert Form." It is designed to identify and prevent discontented managers from quitting. In those situations, Applebee’s brings the managers in to meet with the CEO and possibly other executives. They want to identify and repair anything that might be causing job dissatisfaction.
- Look for triggers. Focus on individuals going through some form of change such as marriage, pregnancy, divorce, a child's graduation, mergers, or other important events that could influence job satisfaction and/or persuade or force employees to leave the organization prematurely.
- Identify and weed out poor managers. The relationship with the employee’s front-line manager is the most common reason people leave. As part of LaRosa's employee retention strategy, all workers evaluate their bosses twice a year using a special report card. It asks the employees to give their managers a letter grade from A to D in four categories. Any score less than a "B" requires a specific comment from the employee. After it's completed, they tabulate the comments and design action plans for improvement.
Greg Smith's cutting-edge keynotes, consulting, and training programs have helped businesses reduce turnover, increase sales, hire better people and deliver better customer service. As President of Chart Your Course International he has designed and implemented professional development programs for hundreds of organizations globally. He is a former examiner for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation's highest award for business excellence. He has authored eight books including his latest, 401 Proven Ways to Retain Your Best Employees. For more information, visit http://www.401ProvenWays.com or call (800) 821-2487 or (770) 860-9464.