Key employee retention is critical to the long term health and success of your business. Managers readily agree that retaining your best employees ensures customer satisfaction, product sales, satisfied coworkers and reporting staff, effective succession planning and deeply imbedded organizational knowledge and learning. If managers can cite these facts so well, why do they behave in ways that so frequently encourage great employees to quit their jobs?
Employee retention matters. Organizational issues such as training time and investment; lost knowledge; mourning, insecure coworkers and a costly candidate search aside, failing to retain a key employee is costly. Various estimates suggest that losing a middle manager costs an organization up to 100 percent of his salary. The loss of a senior executive is even more costly. I have seen estimates of double the annual salary and more.
Employee retention is critically important for a second societal reason, too. Over the next few years while Baby Boomers (age 40 to 58) retire, the upcoming Generation X population numbers 44 million people (ages 25-34), compared to 76 million Baby Boomers available for work. Simply stated: there are a lot fewer people available to work.
Employee retention is one of the primary measures of the health of your organization. If you are losing critical staff members, you can safely bet that other people in their departments are looking as well. Exit interviews with departing employees provide valuable information you can use to retain remaining staff. Heed their results. You'll never have a more significant source of data about the health of your organization.
I've provided retention tips in earlier articles, but will add ten more retention tips to your arsenal with these top ten ways to retain a great employee.
- Management thinkers from Ferdinand Fournies ( Why Employees Don't Do What They're Supposed to Do and What to Do About It) to Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman (First Break All the Rules agree that a satisfied employee knows clearly what is expected from him every day at work. Changing expectations keep people on edge and create unhealthy stress. They rob the employee of internal security and make the employee feel unsuccessful. I'm not advocating unchanging jobs just the need for a specific framework within which people clearly know what is expected from them.
- The quality of the supervision an employee receives is critical to employee retention. People leave managers and supervisors more often than they leave companies or jobs. It is not enough that the supervisor is well-liked or a nice person, starting with clear expectations of the employee, the supervisor has a critical role to play in retention. Anything the supervisor does to make an employee feel unvalued will contribute to turnover. Frequent employee complaints center on these areas.
--lack of clarity about expectations,
--lack of clarity about earning potential,
--lack of feedback about performance,
--failure to hold scheduled meetings, and
--failure to provide a framework within which the employee perceives he can succeed.
- The ability of the employee to speak his or her mind freely within the organization is another key factor in employee retention. Does your organization solicit ideas and provide an environment in which people are comfortable providing feedback? If so, employees offer ideas, feel free to criticize and commit to continuous improvement. If not, they bite their tongues or find themselves constantly in trouble - until they leave.
- Talent and skill utilization is another environmental factor your key employees seek in your workplace. A motivated employee wants to contribute to work areas outside of his specific job description. How many people could contribute far more than they currently do? You just need to know their skills, talent and experience, and take the time to tap into it. As an example, in a small company, a manager pursued a new marketing plan and logo with the help of external consultants. An internal sales rep, with seven years of ad agency and logo development experience, repeatedly offered to help. His offer was ignored and he cited this as one reason why he quit his job. In fact, the recognition that the company didn't want to take advantage of his knowledge and capabilities helped precipitate his job search.