How To Keep Employees From Jumping Ship
Are you happy in your job? It’s a question that gets asked fairly regularly. We take our pursuit of happiness as our right – at home and at work. So many of us are chasing the dream of skipping off to work each day to be fulfilled, engaged and happy.
As the economy gets back into shape, employee turnover is set to go up with it. As a result, companies need to do some hard work to keep their employees engaged and in their jobs. Otherwise, any residual unhappiness from the past few years will end up in serious defections.
Any employer knows that losing an employee is expensive. The cost of replacing an employee can range from tens of thousands of dollars to two times an employee’s annual salary. This cost encompasses the fees associated with recruiting, interviewing, onboarding and training.
But add to that replacement cost the mental cost from the extra burden on the former employee’s manager and peers to make up for the lost work, and the potential hit to morale that can ensue when a good person leaves. As a client of mine recently shared, she’s more worried about losing her people than losing her own job.
Can a manager actually create happiness for their employees? Should they try?
There’s a lot of competing research out there about what attracts people and keeps them happily employed. The obvious answer would be money, but it’s much more than that. Studies have continuously shown that money isn’t the top factor in employee happiness. Further, money is often voiced when there’s a larger problem, i.e. my manager stinks and I’m not paid enough either.
If you’re a leader who wants to keep their best employees productive and happy in any job market, you don’t need to throw money at people. Instead, here are four strategies that you can start implementing today.
Set realistic expectations from the start.
It’s easy to fall in love with candidates during the hiring process, and hard sell in order to get the best people on board. This sets up everyone for dissatisfaction if new hires don’t know what they’re walking into – and you’re not getting what you wanted.
It’s better to be clear from the beginning, and explain the expectations for the job and how to fit within the larger culture. Have the person interview multiple people at the company, and encourage an honest dialogue. Yes, you’ll lose some candidates. But you’ll gain on retention and performance over time.
Show employees that there is room for them to grow.
Employee mobility—and making sure your people are aware that it exists— is key to retaining employees. In LinkedIn’s recent Exit Survey, members from around the world who had recently left their jobs were asked why they jumped ship. The number one reason? A lack of awareness of internal mobility programs.
Sixty-eight percent of American survey respondents said it was actually easier to find an open position outside of their company than within. Starbucks’ manager of global talent sourcing strategy, Phil Hendrickson, explains the issue this way: “People need to know that their career development and growth are valued as much as, if not more than, hiring external people. That’s because you solve three things at once when you hire someone internally — you fill a role, you retain a good employee and you improve your talent brand.”
Continuously reinforce to employees that advancement is encouraged and that there’s room for them to grow if they perform. Promote internal promotions via email newsletters and social media. Make them understand that you want to support their career aspirations, and that it’s a priority.
Demonstrate the advantages of where they work.
In the 2014 Talent Trends Survey, LinkedIn found that when people are considering a new job, the foremost factor that weighs in their decision is whether or not “the company has a reputation as a great place to work.”
Being a great workplace is a part of a company’s brand. It creates the pull factor to draw candidates to the company and helps reinforce why they stay. For an example of a culture-led company, check out this presentation about HubSpot.
Managers can benefit from this idea on a team level. Even if your company isn’t known for being one of the best, you can establish a reputation for a top-performing team. Showcase your own team’s successes, and positive stories of advancement. After all, a person’s direct manager is a top reason that employees choose to stay.
Let your employees know you trust them.
Manage to results not tasks. Or as George S. Patton put it: “Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.”
Micromanagement is exhausting and disempowering for everyone, and a frequent cause of both manager and employee burnout. Allowing employees to get the job done the way they see best shows respect for autonomy and decision-making skills. Plus, trust begets trust.
You want your employees to bring their concerns to you first, before they even consider moving on. Many issues can be resolved if you simply have the opportunity.
Are you happy at work? Comment here or @kristihedges.
Kristi Hedges is a leadership coach, speaker and author of Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others. She blogs at kristihedges.com.
This post also appears on Forbes.com.
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