SumTotal Blog

What would you do if 20% of your employees quit?

If the latest 2014 Career Builder survey is any indication, one in five of your employees is planning to do just that. While you might be glad to see a few of those employees leave, the departure of others could negatively impact your company’s ability to execute.

Why are they quitting? Job satisfaction. Almost 40% indicate they are not happy in their current jobs.  One in 6 employees cite salary and not feeling valued as the top reasons for dissatisfaction.SumTotal Blog - why people leave

With today’s employees switching jobs more frequently than ever before, it’s no surprise that retention remains a top priority ­— and headache — for employers.  How can your company be the exception to the “great employee exodus of 2014”?

Before your best employee walks into your office asking: “Do you have a few minutes?” (the work version of “We need to talk”); gets creative with a dancing “I quit” video; or writes an article about his nightmare boss; ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you know how satisfied your employees are? The first step, of course, is to listen. Talk to your employees, hear what they say, and read between the lines (no one is going to say “I don’t like my job and here’s why”). More formally, conduct a survey to gauge satisfaction levels. Be sure to gather information on what’s working, what isn’t, and ask for suggestions. Then take action based on that feedback. Survey information, while interesting, is a waste of time if you don’t make changes your employees can see.
  • Do you provide continuous learning and skill improvement opportunities? Is training a “perk” or do you integrate it into your culture? The desire to learn, grow and continually improve is part of who we are – Dan Pink, author of Drive, calls it the intrinsic motivation to do a job well.
  • How often do you recognize your employees’ good work? “Recognition Rich” companies benefit from a 31% lower voluntary turnover rate, according to Josh Bersin. Bonuses and promotions are obvious recognition mechanisms, but don’t underestimate the value of day-to-day recognition. A “Nice work on xyz project” email, public recognition in front of peers, and other non-monetary kudos can go a long way.
  • Is one manager losing a higher percentage of employees? Pay attention to exit interviews. The adage “People quit their bosses, not their jobs” is true. Managers directly affect overall job satisfaction.
  • On the flip side, is there a manager who has a much higher retention rate than others? Create mentoring programs to pair high-performing managers with those who seem to struggle. Take time to talk to the successful manager’s team to find out what works best.
  • Are you preparing your people to be managers/supervisors? Avoid promoting people into the job with no preparation or support. Mentoring programs and leadership and manager training help new managers excel.
  • Are there new perks you could add to the mix?  Consider offering the option to work at home one day a week, an extra day off for a job well done or flexible hours. And don’t overlook cultural perks. They matter. Laszlo Bock, Google’s SVP of People Operations, wrote a great article called “Passion not Perks” in 2011 that is worth a read.
  • What professional opportunities and internal advancement opportunities exist? What salary adjustment options exist? You don’t want your employees to feel that the only way to advance their careers, change roles or get a raise is to leave. Make sure that you aren’t subtly discouraging cross-department job changes. Those moves aren’t a sign of dissatisfaction, but rather a way to retain good employees and expand internal skills. Encourage it.

Your people don’t have to be part of the one in five “get me out of here” statistic. Increase retention through recognition, encourage them to face new challenges, and support them along the way by providing continuous learning opportunities.

Read more about how to integrate learning into your culture to build engagement and improve retention in “Learning in 2014: 5 Trends – Accelerate Business Performance through Continuous Learning.

What are your thoughts? What approaches have been successful in your organization?

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