Employee retention a cause for reflection
Employee retention is a hot business topic today. No longer do people stay at the same company for 25 years and collect the gold watch like in years past.
In fact, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, the average worker will have 12 jobs from age 18 to 48. A shocking statistic. That alone should tell managers that all the time they put into hiring, training and promoting may just be preparation for the employee’s next job – and chances are it will be somewhere else.
Employees have more bargaining power than ever before. Unemployment is relatively low, and social media makes a company’s employee retention information public knowledge.
Factor in that a recent Gallup poll shows that only 31 percent of employees are engaged at work, 51 percent are disengaged and 17.5 percent are actively disengaged. Translation: less than one-third of employees are excited about their jobs. Glassdoor, a website where employees and former employees anonymously review companies and their management, says that the average employee gives their company a C plus (3.1 out of 5) when asked whether they would recommend their company to a friend. In other words, companies need to do a better job retaining their valuable employees.
Then there is the collateral damage. Customers have an uncanny talent for picking up on dissatisfaction, and that can damage the bottom line. Can your company afford that?
Why do people leave companies in the first place? There are many reasons – changes in benefits, bosses and job responsibilities, difficult co-workers, unethical practices, poor leadership, lack of challenges and many more.
I happen to believe that employees leave managers; they don’t leave companies.
Taking action when your employees are seriously dissatisfied with your organization’s policies or decisions is a test of your leadership. A face-to-face discussion about grievances can clear the air, but you’ve got to be careful to prevent it from turning into an explosive gripe session. A productive meeting needs careful planning, so consider these suggestions:
- Prepare to hear some painful conversation. Be ready to listen without becoming defensive or arguing back.
- Limit the size. A group of 10-15 employees is large enough so people don’t feel exposed and singled out, but still small enough so everyone can participate.
- Assure privacy. Meet in a conference room where you won’t be overheard – not the lunchroom or break area where other employees might wander in and out.
- Ask for input. State the problem as you’ve heard it and ask for everyone’s opinions and feedback. Promise that you won’t punish anyone for speaking out, and stick to your word. Ask participants to prioritize the list so that the most important issues can be addressed first.