Last week, I was at an event of Cybersecurity Association of Maryland Inc. (CAMI) event. CAMI brought in Mike Aiello, a Cybersecurity Executive at Google, for a fireside chat. There wasn’t an actual fire, but they did have a fire projected on wall complete with crackling wood sound effects. While waiting for the chat to start I was networking with a couple other guys and I told them I help with employee retention. One of the gentlemen said he offers 15-minute seated massages every month and he doesn’t have an issue with retention. Then they asked me what was the key to retention. Although each company has unique solutions, I thought I’d share some general ideas you can tailor to your company.
What Is The Key To Retention?
Over the course of my career, I had many people come and go from my team. Some were offered promotions, some retired, and others just resigned to work elsewhere. Most of the time, I wasn’t surprised. People rarely retire on a whim, and as a manager, I knew who was ready for a promotion. I also knew who just didn’t fit. However there was one individual, when he turned in his resignation, I was completely caught off guard. He was a high potential employee, and I recognized that. He received good marks on his performance evaluations, received better than average merit increases, yet he decided to work for another company. What happened and how could I have prevented a talented employee from leaving?
There are many reasons why people leave their jobs. One of the major drivers for people leaving a job is a lack of purpose. People want to know their work matters, and that they are contributing to something greater than themselves. Sure, people can be motivated by a paycheck, but typically once the basic needs of food, shelter, and clothing are met, people look for the next level of purpose.
People have a need to know that the work they are doing everyday makes a difference. When people do not understand how their contribution impacts the overall success of the business, team or organization, they tend to lose motivation. A lack of motivation manifests in two symptoms, complacency for those that are less driven, and losing valuable employees for those more driven. Demonstrating to your team how the purpose of their contribution to a successful company can help you prevent losing your valuable employees.
Knowing that your work has purpose, and contributes to the success of the company is great. But for many individuals, especially the more driven employees, there is a need for challenging work. Time after time, I have observed motivated individuals step up when the things become challenging to solve the really hard problems. I have seen people volunteer for what looks like a no-win situation only to work through it and find success. Side note – these are the people that end up finding their careers on a fast track to the top. Top performers are rarely complacent with the status quo. They thrive on challenges, relish in the learning, and find satisfaction in the growth. This is where I failed my former employee. I could not find challenging work for him, and he went and found the work for himself.
Top performers aren’t always looking for the glory of advancement and new job titles. Although most of them do appreciate it. Your top performers are looking for new challenges that would come from the opportunity for advancement. This could come in the way of job promotions, more prestigious assignments, or pay increases. The driven and motivated employees that inevitably are your top performers want to keep moving forward. Employees do not want career paths ahead to be limiting. Because, this is demotivating and causes frustration. Offering clear development programs, with a corresponding career path will help you keep your top performers.
This Week’s Challenge
The most expensive employee is the one that leaves and you had no idea. The cost of replacing valuable employees is extremely high, with lost productivity, learning curves, recruiting and onboarding. This week, take time to identify your top performers and take actions that provide them with purpose, meaning and opportunity and see your retention numbers improve.
If you would like to discuss more ways to help your business grow or if you feel you have a specific problem that needs to be addressed, please reach out to me.