Having Trouble Retaining Employees? Here’s a Simple Fix

My parents used to worry about me. They wondered why I couldn’t seem to hold down a job. They were more than a little off the mark, as the issue wasn’t whether I could keep a job, but whether I wanted to.

I tended to move around a lot. I’d start a job and then find myself, about two years later, bored and ready for the next challenge. Since the next thing didn’t seem to be coming from the company I was currently in, it was time to move on. Luckily, I always found myself in a new job that interested me, paid me more, often had a better title or more exciting responsibilities and, therefore, engaged me. Until two years later…

I’m not alone in this. The average tenure in a job in the United States is 4.3 years. That includes the approximately 11% who stay in a job for 20 years or longer. If we factor that group out, we find that people move from job to job a lot more frequently. This is very expensive for business, since it costs a lot to recruit, hire, train, and get a new employee up to full productivity — not to mention the cost of lost productivity before and during onboarding the new hire, and the effect on the team of having to pick up the slack in the interim.

It all adds up to a compelling case for retaining talent. And I believe it is well within the power of managers to significantly help.

According to Gallup, the cost of employee turnover, in the US, amounts to about $1 trillion per year. Wow! I thought that was a staggering statistic. However, there is one I found even worse… 52%.

52% of employees who voluntarily left a job say they would have stayed had their manager or organization simply spoken with them about their job or their future in the organization within the last three months of their employment.

Consider that for a moment. More than half of these people would have stayed with their company had someone just talked to them. Talked to them. Seeing as no one wanted to talk with them about their future, they decided they’d have to create their own somewhere else. They left feeling unwelcome, undervalued, unnecessary, and neglected. No one wants to feel that way.

When researching and writing my book, I spoke with dozens of people. It’s amazing how passionate people are about this topic. I’ve had people talk to me in workplaces, association meetings, social media, networking events — pretty much anywhere people talk about work. I’ve whittled these many stories down to seven, which are featured in my book. These are real stories about real people in real companies who left their jobs because they felt they were getting nowhere. Each of them had a different reason for leaving, but they all boiled down to how they were treated by their manager.

These seven stories gave rise to distinct actions that would have kept them from leaving:

1. Develop a Relationship with the people on your team.

2. Have Empathy for those with whom you work.

3. Support the members of your team.

4. Promote the ideas of your team members, and advocate for their development within the company.

5. Empower your team members to be great on their own terms.

6. Have Consideration for their feelings.

7. Trust them, and be trustworthy yourself.

To right what’s currently going wrong, and encourage people to stay with the company, managers should hold regular, frequent, and consistent one-on-one conversations with their reports about what is important to them, what is important to the company, and what is important for their development. These don’t have to be long, drawn-out, performance appraisal style talks. Rather, they should be informal and focused on the employee.

By making employees a priority, managers will be able to turn retention metrics around, and make a more productive and happy workplace in the process. Conversations — meaningful conversations, are what employees are looking for and they are well within the power of managers to deliver. Thirty minutes, once per week, is enough to create the kind of relationship employees crave.

What people are really looking for from their managers is a relationship. They want their managers to understand what they bring to the organization, and they want to know their work matters. They want to be trusted and to be able to trust in turn. They want some empathy and support when times get challenging, and they want a shot at promotions and opportunities when they arise. They want to know their manager is rooting for them. The way this all comes about is through conversation.

I know there’ll be push-back. I’ve often had managers tell me they simply do not have the time. I’m going to flip this around. In those 30-minute conversations you’ll share what’s going on from the employee and company points of view. With communication flowing and everyone in the loop there’ll be increased productivity and, ultimately, time savings realized. And think of all the time saved from not needing to replace employees walking out the door.

Managers, here is your call to action! Hold thirty minute conversations with each of your team members weekly. During the conversation, be sure to allow time for the employee to talk about whatever they want to talk about. Include time to cover what’s on your mind as well, as your people want feedback and transparency. Finally, allow some time for discussions around professional development. A sense of growth and moving forward is a huge motivator for people, so time devoted to this topic will help employees feel valued and invested, as a result.

It’s really very worth it to commit to this practice. It will help you to cut attrition and (bonus!) boost productivity and employee engagement in the process. Win, win!

Thank you for reading, and for your comments. Reach out on LinkedIn. You’ll find me here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/laurasukorokoff/

Laura Sukorokoff is the Founder and People Maximizer at C-Change Learning and Development. Want to learn more about being an amazing manager? Check out: https://www.cchangelearning.com/



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Laura Sukorokoff

Laura Sukorokoff


My mission? Guiding managers to create human-centered workplaces. I believe managers can change the corporate world! Say hi @ https://www.cchangelearning.com