Years ago, employers looked for applicants with a solid work history. Long tenure, like at least five years at a previous job, was a requirement to get an interview. Today things have changed. It may be a lack of loyalty to an employer, the poor economy with the ever- present threat of layoffs and downsizing, or just the wanderlust of a disillusioned workforce that has shortened time on the job. According to a Forbes.com article, “Six Reasons Your Best Employees Quit You,” Department of Labor statistics show that the average tenure of a worker today is a measly 1.5 years.
Are employees disillusioned with the job or as the article suggests, they leave because managers do a poor job managing, coaching, counseling and mentoring bright, younger workers? Recruiting and training employees cost time and money. Both are scarce commodities in a lagging economy and limited budgets. It’s not a matter of beefing up employee benefits, raising salaries or renovating the workspace. The things that keep employees happy aren’t expensive, and can help keep turnover down to a manageable level.
The first is a compelling vision. Not the stuffy, forgettable vision statement etched in glass or bronze and hanging in the company’s lobby. Employees like to feel part of something exciting. They want to know that their efforts are making a difference and moving the company to a higher goal. The article refers to Walt Disney’s vision of Disneyland while watching his children ride a carousel in Los Angeles. He had a vision of a magical place where children and their parents could have fun together. Making the “numbers” or getting so many “Likes” on Facebook may be interesting, but most employees get don’t get psyched about it. Having a vision of an exciting future can help employees stick around to see the final outcome.
Another reason why employees leave is feeling disconnected from the company’s mission. An old list of what employees wanted in a job listed, “being in on things” as one of the top motivators. Employees like to feel a part of something bigger than they are. They like to know that the work they do contributes to the success of the company. Mission statements have to be simple so people can understand how they factor into the company’s success.
Employees know that a job isn’t forever. Companies let people go to keep costs down and keep the company viable. What’s lacking is empathy. Why be loyal to a company that will let you go in a snap without a kind word? Tough decisions don’t mean you have to put up a tough façade. Listen to your employees. Even when you have to let someone go, there are many options to help a good employee be prepared to take the next opportunity. Listen to your employees to understand how you can help. The next best thing to a job is a solid reference from a former employer.
Many companies lack real motivation for employees to do a good job. Raises may come once a year. Bonuses are often cut in tough times. An employee-of-the-month plaque or pin lasts only as long as the applause, or until you lose the pin. External rewards, like money or gifts only last so long. Real motivation gives an employee something they can keep for a lifetime and enhances their value, like training, education, the opportunity to network with clients or customers, or visibility giving presentations or attending conferences. These are learning and growth experiences that look great on a resume, giving lasting value long after the job is over.
Companies have collapsed their internal structures so much that there are fewer rungs on a career ladder. Younger employees list opportunities for growth as the thing they value most in considering in a job opportunity. If there’s nowhere to go, out the door is the only alternative.
Jobs need to have an element of fun. You don’t have to have all the toys and recreation opportunities of a Google or Facebook, but work should be enjoyable. If your workplace is full of pressure, stress, fear, negative feedback and no appreciation or recognition, it’s going to be a gloomy place.
Use the checklist above and rate your workplace. A low score could send your talent running out the door. A few changes can keep them around for years to come.
Photo Source: rawich / Freedigitalphotos.net
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