Saturday, July 15, 2006

How to Ensure Staff Stay

So, what are those hidden, elusive motivations that cause capable employees to start questioning their decision to join your company, start thinking of leaving, eventually disengage, and finally, leave?

The true root causes of voluntary employee turnover - like incompetence in the Bush administration - have always been hiding in plain sight. If we really think about it, we already know what they are: lack of recognition (including low pay), unfulfilling jobs, limited career advancement, poor management practices, untrustworthy leadership, and dysfunctional work cultures.

So, in what way are these root causes hidden, and from whom? Surveys tell us they are hidden from the very people who need to be most aware of them - line managers who are charged with engaging and keeping valued employees in every organisation. The vast majority of line managers, in fact, believe that most employees leave because they are 'pulled' away by better offers. Certainly, most do leave for better offers, but it is simplistic and superficial to accept 'pull factors' as root causes. What these managers fail to perceive is that 'push factors,' mostly within their own power, are the initial stimuli - the first causes - that open the door to the 'pull' of outside opportunities.

The important question that remains un-asked in so many exit interviews is not 'why are you leaving?' but 'why are you not staying?'

Too many companies are still relying on the tangible, easy-to-implement solutions that revolve around pay, benefits, and trendy perks, when we know the most powerful solutions revolve around the more challenging intangibles, such as good management and a healthy corporate culture. Here are some suggestions for 'ensuring staff stay':

Match Candidates’ Expectations with Work Realities:
  • Conduct realistic job previews with every job candidate.
  • Hire from pool of temp, adjunct staff, interns, and part-time workers.
  • Hire candidates referred by current employees.
  • Create a realistic job description with a short list of most critical competencies.
  • Allow team members to interview candidates.
  • Hire from pool of current employees.
  • Create a way for candidates to 'sample' the work experience.
  • Survey or interview new hires to find out how to minimize new hire surprises in the future.
To Match the Person to the Job:
  • Make a strong commitment to the continuous upgrading of talent.
  • See that all hiring managers perform talent forecasting and success factor analysis.
  • Cast a wide recruiting net to expand the universe of best-fit candidates.
  • Follow a purposeful and rigorous interview process.
  • Track measures of hiring success.
To Match the Task to the Person:
  • Conduct 'entrance interviews' with all new hires.
  • Work to enrich the jobs of all employees.
  • Delegate tasks to challenge employees and enrich jobs.
To Provide Coaching and Feedback:
  • Provide intensive feedback and coaching to new hires.
  • Create a culture of continuous feedback and coaching.
  • Train managers in performance coaching.
  • Make performance management process less controlling and more of a partnership.
  • Terminate nonperformers when best efforts to coach or reassign don’t pay off.
  • Hold managers accountable for coaching and giving feedback.
To Provide Career Advancement and Growth Opportunities:
  • Provide self-assessment tools and career self-management training for all employees.
  • Offer career coaching tools and training for all managers.
  • Provide readily accessible information on career paths and competency requirements.
  • Create alternatives to traditional career ladders.
  • Keep employees informed about the company’s strategy, direction, and talent need forecasts.
  • Build and maintain a fair and efficient internal job-posting process.
  • Show clear preference for hiring from within.
  • Eliminate HR policies and management practices that block internal movement.
  • Create a strong mentoring culture.
  • Keep career development and performance appraisal processes separate.
  • Build an effective talent review and succession management process.
  • Maintain a strong commitment to employee training.
To Make Employees Feel Valued and Recognised:
  • Offer competitive base pay linked to value creation.
  • Reward results with variable pay aligned with business goals.
  • Reward employees at a high enough level to motivate higher performance.
  • Use cash payouts for on-the-spot recognition.
  • Involve employees and encourage two-way communication when designing new pay systems.
  • Monitor the pay system to ensure fairness, efficiency, consistency, and accuracy.
  • Create a culture of informal recognition founded on sincere appreciation.
  • Make new hires feel welcome and important.
  • Ask for employee input, then listen, and respond.
  • Keep employees in the loop.
  • Provide the right tools and resources.
  • Keep the physical environment fit to work in.
To Reduce Stress from Work-Life Imbalance and Overwork:
  • Initiate a culture of 'giving-before-getting.'
  • Tailor the ‘‘culture of giving’’ to the needs of key talent.
  • Build a culture that values spontaneous acts of caring.
  • Build social connectedness and cohesion among employees.
  • Encourage fun in the workplace.
To Inspire Trust and Confidence in Senior Leaders:
  • Inspire confidence in a clear vision, a workable plan, and the competence to achieve it.
  • Back up words with actions.
  • Place your trust and confidence in your workforce.


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