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Tips for Execs

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How can corporate leaders curb escalating workforce turnover? 

Companies large and small are losing employees at a national rate of 3 to 4.5 million employees per month. And the trend is increasing.

As executives, we know that the impact to our companies goes far beyond lost productivity, which alone drains U.S. businesses of $1.8 trillion annually.

The causes are varied and numerous. The Work Institute identified 52 reasons, which HRForecast then grouped into ten categories. The most common are lack of career development, work-life balance, and manager behavior. Others reasons are the hiring strategy, a toxic work culture, employee burnout, and a lack of attachment to company values and goals.

Executives looking to affect change might first realign these categories according to those he or she can correct within the company and those that are the employee’s responsibility. However, if we’re honest, even issues we deem solely up to employees to solve can be made easier to approach if communications, expectations and opportunities within their workplace are positive and realistic.

We corporate leaders have an urgent mandate to address this crisis. What’s more, we have wherewithal to begin reducing the majority of these problems. The opportunity and need are there. One study I read found that “94% of surveyed employees responded that if a company invested in helping them learn, they would stay longer.” 

Begin at the Beginning

Below are questions we can ask ourselves to immediately begin considering incremental changes to help retain employees.

But first I want to address the prefatory issue: the hiring process.

A clear indication that hiring strategies, and the resources dedicated to them, are not working is that “one-third of new employees quit after about six months.” That suggests an extraordinary failure to properly understand and represent our own companies, to thoroughly vet a potential hire, or to see problems within our corporate culture that are only evident after someone is onboard.

I’ve seen figures that put recovering from an unsuccessful hire as high as $240,000 to $850,000 per employee, and, according to Apollo Technical, a cost to replace even an entry-level employee at 50 percent of their salary. 

The Executive’s Checklist

To get a sense of how you may contribute to keeping that revolving door spinning, and sending seasoned employees along with top new hires to other companies, here are some questions to ask yourselves.

  • Do I have too many rules?
  • Do I fail to give credit when it’s due?
  • Do my employees know that I care about them as individuals?
  • Will my employees say they are driven to do current work because of their passions, or does it feel like a grind?
  • Is our company’s mission clear, and does it embrace the contributions of the entire team?
  • Are managers too focused on the tasks and not enough on employee satisfaction?
  • Is there a negative culture in my workplace?
  • Are employees comfortable voicing their opinions or do they fear retaliation?
  • Do I show favoritism amongst the employees?
  • Are there clear double standards for employees versus management?
  • Am I quick to fire people without good cause, even if they’re good at what they do?
  • Do I spend more time cultivating good talent than trying to fix bad apples?
  • Are employees recognized for their work, or does it go unnoticed?
  • Do I allow an employee’s performance to be measured fairly, regardless of who they are and how long they’ve been with the company?
  • Do I reward my top performers for their hard work, dedication, and loyalty?
  • Does my company have a positive reputation in the community and amongst its customers?
  • Do I allow individual expression, or is there a strict dress code in the workplace?
  • Is my company more concerned with what’s cheap vs. what’s best for employees or customers?
  • Do we spend enough to have a good company culture, provide our team with perks, etc.? 

Hopefully these questions shine a light on one or more areas that you and your corporate leadership can make changes that ensure you not only keep the best people, but keep the best people positive and productive.

Let me hear what you think!