If you’re feeling as though your organisation struggles to hold onto some of its best talent, you’re not alone. According to data from Towers Watson, it’s a global problem impacting more than 50% of the world’s enterprises. Problematic employee retention has a number of downsides: obviously, a hit to your organisation’s productivity and profitability, as well as contributing to a sub-par working environment and culture in your organisation that loops back to the productivity and profitability we just mentioned. Some organisations fall victim to a seemingly endless cycle that is painful to watch from the sidelines, where a toxic working environment is already eating away at its potential, and soon after onboarding new staff, they fall victim to the shortfalls and detriment of a toxic working culture. Uninspired and unmotived, that employee is likely to leave their position, adding to the negative culture in their wake, and the organisation is likely to repeat this negative cycle over and over.
In light of having seen this transpire firsthand, I’ve got a few simple but effective ways for your organisation to improve its employee retention, which, if a little bit of investment is made in this context can return dividends- and more - as you move into the future. For some statistics that help to put the scope of the problem in the spotlight, check out this article from McKinsey.
Make a Continued Pledge to Further Education and Training
I stumbled upon an article recently that was talking about the clear correlation between investments in staff training and development and a high level of staff retention. Personally, I believe this is one of the most effective strategies in terms of holding onto your best employees, and increasing their skill set which, coincidentally, benefits both the individual and the organisation they’re working for. As an employer, it’s easy to expect great results from new staff in the first few months, but is this sustainable in the longer term? In many cases, no. That is, until an employer adds value to their skill set and is prepared to make an investment in their training and professional development. There’s an endless stream of benefits for managers that are willing to make this investment, and at its most basic level, is one of the things that acts to separate organisations that can successfully retain their best staff members and others that have a high level of staff turnover.
I’m equally as stunned as I am disappointed when leaders fail to see the value in this transaction, and they’re often individuals that focus more on the micro than the macro vision, and what is objectively best for an organisation. CEOs are often guilty of injecting too much pride in their decisions, and I’ve had a number of replies from leaders like this stating that ‘they never had the same when they were climbing the ladder’, but that doesn’t necessarily mean this is the best plan of action for the future. Culture is changing in organisations everywhere, and as millennials continue to enter the workplace, gestures like an investment on the part of the employer signify trust and commitment that should fill that employee with a sense of inspiration. If someone made the investment in your training, you’d feel somewhat obliged to deliver the results, right? That’s the core of what we’re talking about, and it’s an equation with no losers- other than those that don’t see the value in it!
Have a clearly established onboarding process
As we can see from data published by HR firm, BambooHR shows that shortfalls in an organisation’s onboarding process will often lead employees to quit before the six-month mark. Their research shows a clear correlation between organisations that have a sub-par onboarding process and a lack of employee retention, which goes to show that if you’re not willing to make investments in your staff right from the start, they’re more likely to leave your organisation for one that they feel valued at. The same applies when we’re talking about a lack of clarity for the individual in terms of their role and responsibilities, as well as the culture of an organisation. Your onboarding process should run through the nuts and bolts of the organisation, but more importantly, the organsation’s why. Simon Sinek’s teachings are an essential part of our company’s onboarding process, because you’re significantly more likely to get buy-in from a new employee as to the reason why your organisation operates, and how their daily activities contribute to the realisation of the organisation’s vision.
Change Your Management Style for New Employees
I’ve covered in previous pieces the importance of adapting management styles in different contexts, and with different employees. There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to management styles, and the sooner executives and managers recognise this, the better. While large companies and institutions take this approach more than often as their default means of operating, there’s a whole lot more you can do to maximise the potential of your organisation and retain your best staff. I’ve recently started a series of articles that talk about the pros and cons of different leadership styles, the first of which discussed strategic management, while the second puts the servant model of leadership under the microscope; we’ve also looked at some of the worst behaviour that a leader can impart on their staff. There are few more tragic sights than observing an organisation with massive amounts of potential stifled by bad leadership styles and a lack of empathy, and those that can first of all recognise the correlation here are more likely to retain their staff and create a vibrant culture that encourages people’s best efforts. Transformative leadership is a model that I’ve found is one of the best plans of attack in this context, but does require an investment of time and empathy on the part of the leader. If you can take the time out to study your employee’s love languages - Gary Chapman’s teachings on how we most effectively give and receive praise - and transform the way in which you engage with those members of staff, you’re better positioned to get the best results from them.
Give Them a Number
On that note, getting the best results from people is better facilitated when they know exactly where they fit inside an organisation, as well as how their efforts contribute to the organisation’s overall vision. I’m sure it comes as no surprise that there’s a clear correlation between a high level of clarity in terms of a job’s description and expectations and their delivery. From my firsthand experience, I’ve noticed too many managers are lax when it comes to training their staff and the dissolving of job titles, roles and responsibilities soon after the interview. While it might on the outset seem like a significant amount of pressure to put on someone, giving them a clear list of the numbers they’re responsible for is a great way for them to better understand their role. It’s also commonplace to see a new employee hide in fear rather than ask questions in the early days of their employment, because questions can often be conflated with a lack of knowledge. So then, what does this look like? In Best Practice, at least, it looks like a set of documents for each department of the organisation, with the members of the team, their responsibilities and the numbers - KPIs - they’re responsible for.