I’m always hearing my clients, as well as others in various businesses, complaining about the lack of qualified applicants to hire.
They blame everything and everyone; low unemployment, poor quality schooling, and of course, the ever-popular, “entitled and lazy millennials”. Fact is, while finding great people is a challenge, the real challenge and the one business owners and executives have the most control over, is developing and retaining the talented people that are currently working for them.
Companies are competing not just for customers, but also for talented employees. In September, the U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 3.5%. There are currently more jobs available than qualified job seekers. What does this mean? The best talent is already employed.
These talented individuals are working. They are also quitting. The job market just experienced the highest “quit rate” since the Great Depression. Strong economies cause this kind of spike because workers have more employment options. Competition is high, and the battle is on for companies to recruit and retain qualified talent. The facts are 76% of CEOs rated “retaining existing talent” as the top management challenge. Others cited “attracting qualified talent” as one of their top concerns.
Alarmingly, 40% of workers plan to look for a new job within the next six months, and 69% state they are already looking. For employers, those figures are frightening. As a company, you work hard to hire the best workers carefully, and once they’re hired, you want to keep them.
When a good employee leaves, workload increases, productivity sinks, and morale can suffer.
Additionally, recruiting, training, and onboarding new hires can be difficult and extremely costly. The solution? Time to focus more on retention. Keep your people happy, so they don’t leave. So why ARE your employees leaving? Here are some of the most common reasons employees dump you for new employers/opportunities:
Employees aren’t engaged
What is an “engaged” employee? I think the best way to describe them is they are enthusiastic about, inspired by, involved in, and committed to their jobs. When employees are emotionally connected to their work, they put forth more effort. Gallup has been surveying employee engagement for the past 17 years. The research reveals that only about 30% of U.S. workers are considered “engaged” in their jobs. “They may be generally satisfied but are not cognitively and emotionally connected to their work and workplace; they will usually show up to work and do the minimum required but will quickly leave their company for a slightly better offer,” states Gallup.
Companies perform exit interviews to learn why employees are leaving. Consider conducting “stay interviews” with your most tenured employees. Ask them why they stay. Why did they come to work? Why have they stayed at your company? What would cause them to leave? Do they have any non-negotiable issues? What changes or improvements would they like to see? As a company leader, you can use this information to strengthen your engagement and employee-retention strategies.
They have lousy managers
“When you lose your top talent, the first place to look is at management,” because, “Most people don’t quit their jobs; they quit their managers,” says the vice president of recruiting at JPMorgan Chase, Wendy Duarte Duckrey.
Employees want to feel valued. One way you can show your employees you value them is by acknowledging and addressing their concerns or suggestions. Listening to feedback, taking action, or simply explaining why their suggestion isn’t possible, goes a long way.
Managers need to be meeting with employees regularly to discuss their career goals and job satisfaction. Once per year, performance reviews are a waste of time. Experts agree more frequent interviews are much better, especially with younger generations.
And of course, sometimes simply acknowledging their contribution and saying ‘thank you’ can make a big difference.
This doesn’t mean you have to run around all day complimenting your employees. However, if someone does a great job on a project, make sure you recognize them for it. Fact is, companies that have a strategic recognition program observe less employee turnover.
Management roles are vital. Organizations need to train people to be managers. Invest the time in developing, coaching, and mentoring your managers. Too often, people are promoted into management and then are left to fend for themselves. Make sure your management has all the training and skills necessary to be great leaders.
Employees do not see an opportunity to grow
If employees sense they’ve hit a wall or can’t see a future in your company, they’ll look for other opportunities. If you provide the ability to acquire new skills and progress in their careers, they are more likely to remain loyal.
Career development and mentorship appeal to the most talented employees. Many times, career development programs encourage employees to stay rather than leave for another company. Remember, your best employees want to learn and grow. Unless they can be exposed to new opportunities, take on challenging tasks and received advanced training they will probably get bored and leave. A skilled, career-oriented employee needs growth opportunities within your company to reach their full potential. Some examples would be, learning something new through a cross-functional project, leading or participating in a “lunch and learn,” and attend leadership development workshops. Don’t be afraid to stretch people with assignments that will expand their knowledge and sharpen their skills.
Technologies or procedures are outdated
Time, tools, and training should be your friend. If an employee is failing at work, ask, “What about the system is causing the person to fail?” Employees need to have the necessary systems, procedures, and equipment to do their job well. If they don’t, they will move on to a company that provides the tools needed to succeed.
Keeping your technology and training up to date engages employees in the direction of your company goals.
Employees are unclear about your company vision
Most people want to work somewhere with a strong corporate culture, one that clearly defines its mission and has a set of values that every employee, from the CEO on down, has bought into, believes in, and is aligned with. Have a robust set of company values and a clear vision with specific goals that tie into a “what’s in it for me” proposition. This will help direct employees’ energy and allow them to see how their contributions are part of the greater whole.
There is no work-life balance
Giving attention to employees’ struggles to manage work and home life will go a long way toward keeping top talent. “Little things that emphasize the importance of work-life balance go a long way toward making employees feel that they’re not just disposable cogs in a wheel, but a valuable asset to the company, and their families,” says Wendy Duckrey, “There is a talent shortage, and you’re going to have to give a little to be able to retain top talent.”
Research from Dice.com reveals telecommuting is the most-wanted benefit among tech pros. Sixty-three percent of respondents to a separate Dice snap poll indicated they would be willing to take a pay cut to telecommute at least half the time.
“This is a major demand we see from talent,” says George McFerran, the executive vice president at Dice. “And for organizations that can’t compete on salary to get that elite tech talent, offering remote and telecommuting options — even just part of the time or a few days a week — means they’ll be able to land those great hires.” Acknowledging that your employees may have a life outside of work will send a message to you team that you care about them. If you consistently insist, they come in early and work late, they will inevitably start looking for another job.
The ability to work remotely has enabled people to work without having to go into the office. Remote work provides the kind of flexibility that employees want, especially younger ones. This does not mean they won’t work the same number of hours, but rather that they can manage their work outside of regular office hours.
Three best practices for keeping employees:
Hire the right people
The starting point is hiring the right person for the right position. Here at Results Driven Leadership we have a comprehensive training program that includes training several best practices for creating a process that assists in Hiring Top Talent.
Offer great benefits
Companies that provide valuable benefits to their employees are more likely to keep them. Many surveys reveal that health benefits are most important, followed by retirement funds. With the costs of healthcare rising, a strong employee health benefit plan is essential to recruit top talent.
Employees look for ways to plan retirement. Employers can help contribute to savings by offering a 401k match. This is a great motivator for joining and staying at a company.
Companies that provide generous paid off-time avoid burnout and retain their employees more successfully. Employees appreciate being able to take a break without being punished. Often, they value this more than a higher salary.
Pay above-standard rates
To hire and keep the best, you should pay the best. Not a ridiculously high salary for these people. However, pay that is at or below the market rate for the position tells employees, “you are not truly valued.” It’s worth considering structuring your pay scale from 20% to 40% over the market rate.
Talent can be your biggest asset or your biggest expense. According to Investopedia, it takes an average of 6.2 months to train a new employee to the break-even point. Though you will never eliminate employee turnover, following these strategies can help you keep your best.