You’ve started small and you are known in your area for the quality of products/services you offer. Throughout time, you’ve made a huge sacrifice in order to be successful and you’ve grown. You have invested. Today, you are proud of an impressive portfolio. You created several brands. And yet, the people you hired are working for a while with you, are learning everything there is to learn, and then they desert. Some build their own business, others are “stolen” by competition. Most of them are well-paid because they have worked with you, a demanding employer. In other words, they are using you as a launching ramp, taking advantage of your reputation and work. You feel aggrieved; people come and go from your organization as from a train station, whereas you have to continuously recruit and train new employees. No matter what you do, no matter how much you modernize and grow, your staff fluctuation rate is still high.
If you are a manager or a business owner, or if you are an HR person and you notice that the staff retention is poor and it worries you, then the key question you should ask yourself is: why do my employees leave?
Here are some possible reasons:
Talented employees, aware of their value, can choose anytime a better-paid job, with challenges fit to their position and experience, especially if the new offer is more attractive and consistent than yours. Less prepared employees, feeling they do not belong to your organization, will try to get accustomed, but if you do not assign somebody to train, supervise or help them, they will either be fired if proven incompetent, or they will leave. However, in any organization, the great majority consists of mediocre employees, pleased with their salaries. If many in the latter category are leaving, it indicates they have other reasons.
What can I do, as an employer, so that the staff retention be on the level I want?
Life is not a cup of nectar and ambrosia. Sometimes there might come up serious reasons which prevent employees do their work: personal drama, family problems, poor health, moving out, etc. A good employer uses every opportunity to know his employees and their life. The most valuable aspect of your organization is the human capital. It is the human capital which generates profit, not the other way around.
How well do I know my employees? Do I have the instruments that can help me retain the employees wishing to leave out of personal reasons? If possible, am I willing to offer them persuading alternatives (moral and financial support, flexible working time, etc.)?
Before starting the working relation, the future employees read the contract and job description, and once they agree to their tasks, terms and conditions in the contract, they accept the job. If they know their tasks, goals, and specific indicators, they will perform with professionalism. They will know how to approach the challenges, when to ask for help, with whom to cooperate and what to do in order to fix mistakes. But if the management skipped these stages, if they get vague tasks or if they have to constantly work overtime, not only the productivity will decline, but also the quality of their results. Besides, regular overtime till late in the evening and in weekend indicates two things: either the employees are not efficient, therefore their tasks should be rethought, or they are exploited, therefore you should hire more people.
If the results of your employees are poor, spend some time to analyze: are there SMART goals? Are there reasonable indicators? Are there clear internal procedures? Is there an effective communication among departments? How much overtime do they perform? For what reasons?
The employer is responsible for providing his employees with the technical means for optimal work: decent working conditions, functional rooms and furniture, proper equipment and electronic devices, as well as training if needed. Providing the technical means does not only mean a better productivity, but it is also a fundamental token of respect towards the employees’ competence and responsibility. The lack of technical means leads to a never-ending state of improvisations, a poor quality of products/services, frustration, wasted time, ultimately poor resource management. It amplifies the employees’ perception of an unprofessional employer.
Do I constantly provide the technical means for a proper work performance? Am I finding the best solutions? Am I using the human resources in an optimal way?
Man is a sociable being, with a high adaptability. Any employee, especially recently hired, makes efforts to adapt, contributing through own activity and personality to the reinforcement of the organizational culture. We all wish to go to work with pleasure, and when things go in the right direction, to identify with the organization. We wish to be noticed, to get a proper feedback, to be appreciated for our creativity, to promote, and to be constantly motivated. In the same time, the employee, as a mature, responsible and free individual, can chose anytime to leave a toxic organizational climate, in which conflict, lack of transparency, inconsistence, distress, and arrogance are dominating, in which the teamwork is discouraged or missing, and in which the individual is not validated.
Spend five minutes a week to observe the employees non-verbal behavior: Do they come at work with pleasure? Are they willing to interact openly with peers during breaks? Are they sharing their professional challenges? Do they work in teams?
Employees are not robots with skills and competencies whom you can daily feed with tasks, goals, indicators and targets, and at the end of the month give them the paycheck and that’s it. They are individuals, with own motivation and demotivation. Certain is that they all are important. From executive to top management: without the janitor which provides hygiene, they all might end in a hospital. Without the driver, the goods never reach the destination. Without the people in Call Center, the client never hears of your existence; without middle management, the executors don’t understand the importance of their contribution. And finally, without top management, the organization runs like a plane without a pilot.
How do motivated employees behave? Which is the impact of motivation upon their productivity? Which are the consequences of demotivation upon their work? Do I know what it motivates employee X and how to respond to this need?
Evaluation starts with selection process, when the employer seeks to find the right match between the job description and the ideal candidate’s profile, goes on after the hiring, seeking to see to what extent the new employee’s personality and competence fit the job (tasks, requirements, skills, performance, and engagement) and it ends after terminating the contract, comparing all these with next employees occupying the same job. If the employer does not evaluate properly, under- or overestimating his employees’ potential and performance, or if he evaluates them without clear goals, if the evaluation has no impact upon their work, the only certain result will be frustration. Unresolved frustration means demotivation, negligence, and finally quitting.
How do I evaluate my employees? With what purpose? How do I inform my employees in the evaluation results?
It can be the deepest reason for losing employees. A law of nature: poor leaders jeopardize their group, which in the end will fall apart while everybody follows the real leaders.
Do my employees know the mission, values, and philosophy of my organization? Are they relevant to them? Am I, the employer, the first one to practice them? Do I know where and especially how to place my organization in perspective?
Instead of a conclusion
Dear employer, the way your people perform at work is indeed individual and it depends on their competence, education, culture, personality and ultimately respect. If you’ve found all the answers to the above questions and if you’ve done everything in your power to create and develop a stimulating organizational climate, fair evaluation, and motivation of your employees, if you prove real leadership, if you’re ready to prevent that people leave your organization from financial, technical, executive, and personal reasons, then you only have a recruitment problem and you’ll have to invest in improving this issue. Instead, if staff fluctuation is that high because of the organization you are running, then you’d better be careful: it is highly likely to return exactly where you started, sooner than you may think.