In our role as HR consultants often providing hiring assistance services to our clients, the challenges of talent acquisition are a constant source of discussion. What we get to talk about less often is talent retention. There are many factors that an employer must take into consideration when looking to retain top talent. First and foremost, of course, they must obtain that talent by making the right decisions during the hiring process – from creating or updating the job description and communicating it via the correct platforms (CareerBuilder, LinkedIn, local newspaper, word of mouth, Twitter), to performing proper due diligence during the selection, including selecting strong interview questions and performing background and reference checks. This process can be complicated and daunting, and so we are rightfully proud of ourselves when we do it right.
But what happens when that same, talented employee leaves your organization much sooner than you had hoped? According to a recent CareerBuilder/USA Today survey, 56% of managers are worried that their top talent will leave for another job within the year. Nearly 90% of employers assume that their employees leave for more money elsewhere, but in fact only 12% of employees actually earn more from their next company.
Another scenario we often hear about is when talented employees stick around, but their performance steadily declines over time. It’s possible they are just doing enough to get by, but if you’ve seen their potential, it’s important to check in and ask. Open communication will allow everyone to take the steps necessary to improve performance and make necessary changes.
Regardless of the ultimate outcome, more likely than not, something has happened over time to dull your employee’s motivation, and this can be an expensive problem. Disengaged workers cost the economy $300 billion or more per year. Let’s take a look at a few things that may cause an employee to become demotivated and disengaged.
- Constant department turnover – If your team has experienced a lot of coming and going, your employee may feel as though direction, team cohesiveness or job security are lacking in general. Open communication of the reasons behind each change and allowing the employee the opportunity to ask questions and obtain honest answers is the key to mitigating this problem and putting your employees at ease.
- Lack of feedback and support– Constant turnover is one way that employee morale can suffer, but so can active team members all rowing in a different direction. Are you giving your team members the information they need to continue to do their jobs successfully? Are you giving timely and proper feedback after projects that includes both areas of improvement and acclaim? If not, consider new feedback strategies and team communication outlets so that everyone can be onboard with the organization’s overarching goal.
- Decline in challenging or meaningful work – This can go hand in hand with feeling underutilized or overworked. Either extreme can be detrimental to your employees.
- If work is slow, hopefully your employee will show initiative and be proactive in asking what they can do to help out, even if it is out of the scope of their regular job duties. Occasionally, this can be an intimidating ask. Encourage your employees to do so and mitigate their concerns that voicing their desire to help will in some way lead to censure for not performing new work well in the first few turns, or that they will be laid off for not being busy in the first place.
- If a workload is too much to manage, burn-out is inevitable. Even for the stellar performers full of energy and zest, it is only a matter of time before long hours start to wear and tear on their mind and body, and performance declines (whether due to being sick or having an increase in errors). Encourage employees to speak up if they have too much.
- Drastic changes in benefits and perks – Almost all business can relate to this. As an example, we see a steady increase in medical premiums on an annual basis. What are we doing to assist in minimizing these increases? Consider shopping around for another insurance carrier, implementing a wellness program, or increasing other perks, like PTO and flex time. More possible benefits may include providing assistance with student loan debt, pet insurance coverage or offering tickets to local events.
For business owners and other organizational leaders, it is crucial to have employees that provide quality work and improve business results. Organizations with higher than average levels of employee engagement realized 27% higher profits, 50% higher sales, 50% higher customer loyalty levels, and 38% above-average productivity. In order for employees to feel continuously connected to both their work and their team, communication, feedback and a constant review of each person’s motivational factors is a must.
As with all initiatives, support from leadership is vital to the establishment of this type of culture. Everyone thrives and feels both heard and “in the know” when feedback mechanisms are strong. We are always either contributing to a climate of motivation or de-motivation. Let’s be sure that we utilize the right motivational tools for each of our employees so that we continue to secure our talent for the long haul.
Emily Possidento, MBA, SHRM-SCP is the HR Consulting Senior Manager at MCM. She has more than 16 years of experience in hiring assistance, assessments, and organizational development. Prior to joining MCM, she worked for a Fortune 100 company, as well as a privately-held executive search firm.
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