5 Reasons To Stop Worrying About Retention


I can bet you there are quite a few HR departments in NYC and Northern Virginia shuddering with trepidation right about now, particularly in tech. Amazon is splitting its HQ2s among these two locations, with an anticipated need for an additional 50,000 employees. But we’re still and ever in a talent crunch, with a whopping percentage of job applicants actively employed in other companies. A full 82% of workers are open to new job opportunities, and at least at first glance, Amazon’s move looks like an opportunity and a half.

What’s a smaller or mid-sized organization to do in the face of a behemoth? How do you keep your talent from leaving? Half of all employees in the U.S. are seeking new jobs, according to a foreboding report (at least for employers) from Gallup. Now is the time to ask those hard questions, and I’ve got some answers that may surprise you:

1. Can we institute a rule, like no surfing job portals on company time?

Don’t do it. It is true that in the U.S., many companies are at-will employers, which means they have a right to terminate for any reason, or for no reason, with or without notice. But should they? Even from a logistical standpoint it won’t work: People look for work and jobs 24/7 — time has become far more seamless now that we operate online and on mobile whenever, wherever, and why-ever we want to.

Even if you did “lock out” job portals on your own PCs or intranet, 45% of job seekers use their mobile devices to search for jobs at least once every day. Many of those are currently employed, and likely at your company. That kind of rule smacks of retrogressive management policies, and is begging to be broken. What, exactly should the consequences be?

2. Can we just ask our employees if they intend to look for another job?

First, here’s why I wouldn’t. It’s a potential hornet’s nest. How many employees would the employer have to ask? Who would do the asking, and when, and of whom? If an employee answered yes, and was then let go for an entirely different reason, that employee may have grounds for wrongful termination. At-will certainly does not include retaliatory firing. Further, a workplace that checks in with employees on whether or not they plan to look for another job is just begging for negative employee’s reviews and a top spot on a worst places to work list. The first thing they asked me is if I was going to look for another job — not the best way to present your employer brand.

But now here’s why, and how, I would. Openness and transparency are key core values in many top employers these days, and honest communication is a big part of that. It’s also a great way of walking the talk. If managers encourage employees to be open about their intentions, and if career plans are a part of regular performance management — so it’s always on the table instead of taboo — they may get better responses than if they ask directly. Also, having a policy and atmosphere of openness could make it easier for employees to come to managers on a whole range of other issues as well. Employees may feel more comfortable voicing concerns that, if left unaddressed, could trigger an exit. And the policy, in general, may also inspire them to better appreciate their employer.

3. Can we request that our employees not interview with another firm while employed with us?

I was asked this recently — by someone who expected me to say what a good idea that was. Here’s the surprise: it’s a terrible idea. Instead, I strongly suggest you invite your employees to interview with other firms. It’s a remarkable incentive for employees to stay, actually. If instead of trying to stop them, you encourage them to explore their free will and free choice. You’re sending a message that:

a) you’re confident enough as a company to be compared to others,

b) you’re confident enough as an employer to know you can replace an employee, and

c) you’re confident enough in that employee to give them the privilege of making up their own mind.

Given the statistics, it’s highly likely employees will be interviewing. Might as well make it a part of your non-restrictive management policy to recognize that change and growth — even out the door – is inevitable.

4. What are the most effective incentives for convincing employees to stay?

If you haven’t spend much time poring over Deloitte’s reports on millennials and the state of the workplace, I suggest you do. A cash bonus for staying may sometimes work, but it’s a risky bet when you’re going against a company helmed by the richest CEO in the world, and if it’s one blast of a trumpet in an otherwise barren culture, it’s not going to be effective.

Here’s an incentive: As an employer, do your best to create a vibrant workplace culture for your employees. Recognize and support them. Make it clear that you believe in their professional and personal growth. Clarify what your core values are as a company, and make sure everyone understands them and works by them. Netflix not only encourages its employees to interview elsewhere, it clearly delineates its culture — and readily admits it’s not for everyone. I’m not sure the news of late is what Reed Hastings had in mind, but it does transmit a clear sense of self-confidence of the ilk that — bingo — tends to attract top talent and make the hungry ones want to stay.

5. One of our star employees is going to join another firm. Now what?

Congratulate them. And then, turn that loss into a gain. If it’s a big, prestigious firm in your market, for instance — even a key competitor — don’t try to hide the news. Make sure to celebrate the fact that a stint at your company may have enabled that employee to grow enough professionally to be able to take a position in another firm. It’s the “some of our graduates have gone on to…” approach.

Employees today see each job as a point on their own career trajectory, and value employers that provide them with opportunities for growth and development. When you’re filling the position left open when an employee went to Company X, let the applicants know — and you may shine brighter on their radar, and it shows you’re not a fear-based employer. Also, by embracing that employee’s move, you may be paving the way for them to return. Boomerang employees are trending, as are former employees who become consultants as they join the gig economy.

Yes: It’s an HR headache not knowing who is on the fence about staying or not. It would be helpful in terms of strategic hiring plans and allocating further development resources to actually know who the company can count on. But in this quicksilver, volatile, complicated economy, there are no guarantees. There are no guarantees regardless. Just when you’re set and running at capacity, the S.S. MegaBezos pulls up to port.

What you can do is make your company the best employer it can be, and then you’ll have a head start. Pay attention to your brand and its image wherever it appears. Mind the job boards and address grievances before they can fester. Treat all your employees like assets, provide learning and development opportunities whenever you can, and you’ll also be continuously improving your own employer work culture. You may wind up with some dead weight leaving. You may wind up with some new stars stepping up to be brand ambassadors. Maybe, just maybe, you should stop worrying.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/meghanbiro/2018/11/28/5-reasons-to-stop-worrying-about-retention/#28110f984d5b

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