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Employee Retention: Give them a reason to stay

It was an exciting week last week – our book Employees Not Doing What You Expect rose to number two on the Globe and Mail Business Bestseller List. Irwin Schinkel and I are putting the finishing touches on our next book Fusion or Fizzle: How Leaders Leverage Training to Ignite Results.

Now that we seem to be on the tail end of recession and the beginning of recovery, it is time to confront a reality – nearly one third of employees are thinking about changing jobs if the right opportunity presents itself. Look at the person on your left and then the one on your right – one of you is secretly or not so secretly looking at changing jobs. More on that below. 

Dr. Peter DeShane and I are scheduling another workshop: The Psychology of Persuasion and Influence on June 9th in London, Ontario.
 
Now is the time of year when companies plan leadership retreats – see how we can make these meetings more positive and productive.
   
A Reason to Stay
 
Nearly one out of three employees really would like to be working someplace else. During a recession, employees are thankful to have a job and generally put aside thoughts of moving to a different position or starting their own business. This false sense of loyalty can lull managers into thinking that employees are satisfied and motivated when they really are not.
 
As the economy improves, these unhappy employees go looking for other opportunities they think will bring them greater fulfillment and satisfaction.
 
Low turnover can mask a hidden problem. In workplaces with good compensation, generous benefits and a solid pension plan (think public sector or large employers), ambitious employees may lose their motivation and yet not leave. These trapped employees allow their personal productivity to decline and simply “put in time” until their retirement date comes.
 
Whether employees feel trapped or are looking at other possibilities, the challenge to managers is clear – continue to create a work environment that is motivating.
 
Four areas to pay attention to:

  1. Challenge – Even high-potential employees will leave an organization if they are bored so managers need to provide a steady diet of new challenges, projects and assignments to create growth.
  2. Recognition and acknowledgement – Let employees know that their contribution makes a difference. Say thank-you and let employees know that you see the impact they are having on the team, the customers and the organization as a whole.
  3. Inclusion – While you might have favorites, it is crucial to reinforce teamwork through fair and consistent treatment.
  4. Likeability and respect for the boss – A major reason employees look for opportunities is because they really don’t like the person they report to. This isn’t simply a popularity contest – they want a manager who is consistent, positive, knowledgeable, supportive and ambitious.

Reflection Questions

  • How many of the four motivational elements above exist in your organization?
  • Are you the kind of boss employees enjoy working for or do you need to make changes?
  • What needs to change in order to have an engaging and motivating workplace?

Action Items

  • Assess your personal satisfaction level, identify what is missing and what it will take to fill the void.
  • Evaluate your workplace on the four motivational elements and commit yourself to making it better.
  • Make adjustments and see the impact on both productivity and job satisfaction.

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