employee retentionThis week I read a post on, The Real Reasons your Employees are Leaving You. Author Maren Hogan references a recent infographic by Paycom that discusses the issue of “pull” versus “push” for why employees leave and reports on their survey results. A “push” is when an employee leaves for reasons related to their current job and company as opposed to being “pulled” by an outside offer that tantalizes. Paycom says that 94% of employees report voluntarily leaving for a push reason rather than a pull.

As Ms. Hogan points out, this is a big number that deserves consideration. This means that 94% of employees are not tempted by better offers from other companies but rather by dissatisfaction with their current company. I think that may be a surprise to many. I think the perception is often that it’s hard to compete with an outside offer and once, as Hogan says, an employee hears that “siren’s song” they’re gone, but the truth is more complex than that and suggests that an employer’s behavior and policies are a bigger factor. Paycom reports that the top four “push” reasons were:

  1. Lack of trust in senior leadership
  2. Insufficient pay
  3. Unhealthy / undesirable culture
  4. Lack of concern for development

This also means that employers have more influence in retaining employees than they may realize. As a business owner, or someone in a management position, you can do things that can directly counteract these four areas of potential dissatisfaction.

Let’s tackle the salary concern first. This is an area of constant tension between employers and employees and one of the most important factors is that both sides should be realistic. You can’t pay everyone top dollar but it certainly behooves you to identify your key people or mission critical positions and ensure that you understand the current marketplace for that talent and are in line with salary ranges or you will lose people. You don’t want to wait until someone already has an offer and then have to match or more likely better it. Being informed and proactive in ensuring that salaries (and benefits too) are competitive can save you money in the long run. The cost of finding and training new employees is significant.

Fortunately you can make headway in the other three areas without necessarily incurring significant costs. Lack of trust in senior leadership is often a communication issue. How does your company communicate its values, mission statement, and goals for the year? Do you engage in regular communication? Do you survey your employees and provide opportunities for upward feedback and suggestions for improvements? How open and transparent you are about the company’s plans for the future and how effectively you inspire and make your whole team feel included can make a big difference in employee satisfaction.

If you communicate well and listen to what your staff has to say, you’ll likely know if you have a problem with your company’s culture. Once you are aware there is a problem, fix it. If you have a broken department or a toxic manager, you simply must address the problem and change the situation or you will lose, and probably more than just an employee or two. An unhealthy work environment also affects productivity, customer service, and ultimately your bottom line.

Finally, employees consistently mention career development as a top concern and, again, you can do a lot of good by listening to what your employees are looking for and finding ways to provide. Most people want the opportunity to challenge themselves, to stretch their skills and learn something new. Obviously an employee has to start by performing the job they’ve been hired to do but giving people the chance to try new things or work on an interesting project is one of the ways to help them develop and grow and in the long run, that’s a good thing for the company overall. Whether you provide training opportunities, tuition reimbursement, or are just understanding when an employee needs to leave on time for class, supporting efforts to improve is another way that you can demonstrate concern for your employee’s development.

None of this may be news to you but it is certainly a good reminder that we have more control than we may think over employee retention. It’s not possible to eliminate it but there are many things that you can do to help reduce it, especially among your key top performers. Make sure you aren’t helping to push them out.

Jerry Brenholz
President and CEO
ATR International

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