What can we do to prevent resignations?

In the first to portions of this report we learned that around 2.5 million workers in the USA quit their jobs voluntarily each year. In the second portion we also learned some of the main motivators why people may decide to leave and why they may decide to stay.

Before we start taking action based on this information, we need to decide if we even want to do anything about it. Some of you may feel like this is simply part of the cost of doing business, while others may think this will never happen to them.

In the first article in this series we learned that there is a real economic impact to losing an employee. Each person that quits can cost the company between $22,297 and $222,975 depending on salary and expertise of the individual. But the cost of resignations goes beyond simply dollars and cents.

What makes things worse for all of us is a discovery made by Right Management in a 2011 survey. The results revealed that three out of four organizations lost people they hoped to keep that year. It is one thing to lose any employee. It is another to lose someone you wanted to keep.

If these numbers are reason enough for you to decide to make an effort to keep valuable employees with you, then we need to discuss what we can do to maximize our retention rates and minimize these high quit rates.

First, we need to recognize that all of the reasons for leaving mentioned in the many different surveys are all matters that we can control or influence. The problem is that companies seldom take a proactive approach to addressing these matters. It simply isn’t in their culture to do so.

If the company promotes ongoing management training and coaching, and this training teaches managers to listen to their employees for specific cues, then they will be able to pick up on signs and triggers they can act upon to keep top talent from quitting.  Let’s take a look at the different issues to watch for and address.

The top issue to discuss is the desire to become your own boss and own your own company. Managers need to pay attention to these aspirations and take them seriously. Once we learn that someone working for you has aspirations of this kind, we can take steps to keep them engaged with us.

While many people may have fallen in love with the idea of being a boss and to own a business, they may know little about the responsibilities and effort it takes. Defining the role of a boss or owner and discussing the skills necessary for the role may help the person have a more realistic view of what that means.

More importantly, identifying why people want to be their own boss may lead to a set of underlying needs that could be met in alternative ways. Specifically, many of these individuals are simply asking for more meaning in their jobs and more autonomy.  A well-trained manager with advanced communication skills will be able to identify these underlying reasons, and build a career path for the individual that allows them to earn their way into independence and autonomy at work.

Next comes the issue of compensation. As many of us have learned with experience, throwing money at problems is seldom the most effective strategy. First let’s keep in mind that, at least in the published surveys, this is an issue of bigger importance for men than for women.

Is there anything we can do other than to offer a raise or a promotion to somebody to keep them with us? Managers need to remember the top reasons why people choose not to leave: the relationship with their peers and their managers. We may not always be able to simply offer more money to staff, but we can minimize the desire for more of money by improving the relationship with the employee.

Finally we need to address work-life balance. This issue too can be addressed if a manager takes the time to build a relationship with the employee and works on a plan to help with the employee’s needs. A simple change to a more flexible schedule might be all it takes to keep an employee with us for years to come.

We should work under the assumption that our top staff are being actively approached by recruiters ready to make a better offer in pay and benefits. Other offers may include the promise of upward mobility.

The best way to prevent finding a resignation letter on our desk is to get to know our staff better, build a closer (but professional) relationship with them, and help them see the value of working with a strong team. The better they feel about their relationship with their peers and managers, the harder it will be for them to want to leave.

What does this all mean? It means we need to ensure managers are continuously improving their communication and relationship building skills. From a strategic point of view, the investment we make on developing these managerial skills is well worth preventing high quit rates.

Posted in Consulting, Staff Training.