Have you ever been part of a brilliant team where everything runs smoothly, up until your top player quits and you don’t know why?
This is a scary prospect for employers. It is also the harsh reality. More employees are leaving their positions in search of better opportunities now than at any point since 2010.
Certainly, there are forces outside of the managers’ control that influence retention however, great managers are proactive and create an environment that makes employees feel engaged, valued and respected.
So, if you’re wondering why your top talent would leave, here are the top 5 reasons:
1. Mismatch between personal and effective leadership stylesFinding the balance of micro-managing employees and providing autonomy can be difficult for even the best managers. Providing resources and clear expectations are key to making sure your people have the tools they need and a framework in which to apply their skills.
Poor managers fail to set expectations for fear of micro-managing or, worse still, set ambiguous expectations that are not consistently followed up upon. This approach to leadership simply confuses employees and creates a culture of disengagement and dissonance. For an example of this kind of leader, look no further than Ricky Gervais’ character David Brent in the BBC show ‘The Office’.
Managers who go the opposite route and micro-manage also create a culture of dissonance because the crucial element of trust is lost. Micro-managers give no autonomy to employees which distorts their ability to think creatively and innovate.
If there is little direction or a lack of trust in your workplace a good place to start is to question the leadership because, as the saying goes: “People don’t leave jobs or companies – they leave managers”.
2. Disengagement and RepetitionTo create a work environment that fosters productivity, an employees’ tasks need to be in line with the skill set that they have. If the tasks aren’t chosen carefully, employees can be stuck doing monotonous work that they do not enjoy which affects engagement and productivity. Ultimately, the employee will feel disrespected and will be heading towards the exit.
Understanding what each employee loves to do is important. Someone who loves to be creatively challenged or employees who are analytical obviously need to be catered to differently - if their skills don’t match the task - think twice about why you’re giving it to them, and also ask yourself what sort of result you’re expecting if you set the wrong task.
For employees that are currently disengaged, look to give them a task that is completely new but still within their scope. For example, you could give them the extra responsibility of managing a project or team or even working on a different aspect of the same project. If nothing new is available a similar role on a different department even temporarily will make the employee feel cared about and respected and will lead to higher levels of engagement.
3. Minimal growth opportunitiesWork environments are constantly evolving to suit the nature of the business. In turn, employees require opportunities to further develop and grow with the business. providing opportunities can be achieved by creating projects that extend and enhance their skill set. For example, get your employees involved in the creation of a process for a project or managing a team.
This example could be mutually beneficial – the employee might develop a new approach to a task, and the organisation will benefit from their employee’s innovation.
4. Lacking a sense of BelongingEven your best and most autonomous employees still need to feel respected and valued. This needs to be reflected in practice though, not just in superficial gestures. To foster a sense of belonging you should proactively communicate with your employees about their role within the organisation and about their personal goals.
In doing so, you will demonstrate that the organisation does care about its employees and that their careers matter. This means you are a lot more likely to keep people who are otherwise likely to leave.
5. Recognition and rewardsFor someone work at a company, intrinsic motivation is very important. A poor recognition and reward system will consistently undermine intrinsic motivation and cause employees to disengage if it is not administered correctly. As such, is vital to ensure that an employee is receiving a consistent and congruent feedback to do their job.
While financial rewards are important, more important is the role of feedback. One of the quickest ways to lose employee engagement is to delay, omit or ambiguously deliver feedback. Feedback needs to be a daily goal of any good manager in the form of praise. A team member needs to know that they are valued by their team members, managers and organisation explicitly.
Continuous, specific feedback is the key to communicating effectively and it leaves no doubt in the employees mind as to whether they’re valued or not. Too many managers leave it until too late to recognize their employees and it can come as a nasty surprise when employees leave.
The problem with employee engagementMost organisations implement employee engagement programs that only deliver superficial and short-term results. To truly motivate employees, a better solution is to develop and implement an employee engagement strategy, this places emphasis on the company culture and leadership as a driving force to making employees feel values, respected and engaged.
Employees both want and need to be engaged with their tasks coupled with being a part of a supportive environment. If an engagement strategy is managed correctly it will have continual, long-lasting effect on employee retention.
There are many tools you can use to conduct culture surveys, job satisfaction surveys and identify the values and motives of staff to see if your company and the individual are aligned or not.
In the end, you chose what type of culture an organisation has, it starts at the top and has a trickle-down effect. If it is one of dissonance and disengagement then you can watch your best employees walk out the door.