Your New Retention Strategy – Checking in on Hearts and Brains

Have the first months of the year been difficult with new normal of turnover and opportunity?  The last months of the year are spent building our budgets and identifying the purple squirrel recruit that will solve all the problems of our future and take us to places we dream of.  The year started with a series of unfortunate departures and now it’s time to catch your breath and focus on your strategy of retention. If you have not, there may be a recruiter or another company that will and before you know it, you will have another open position to refill.  With all the turnover we are suffering, the focus is on replacing positions and then the excitement of the new person.  The fact is your strategic advantage are the people who haven’t left. Have you checked in on the hearts and brains that show up for you daily?

All employees want to feel appreciated. The simplest form of appreciation are words of affirmation and appreciation. Have you thanked your employees for the work they have done this past year? Have you had conversations about the value they will bring to your organization in the coming year? Do they know that you appreciate all the difficulties that they may have endured, the big hairy projects that they navigated through? The changes that may have taken place that have taken a toll on them. Poor behavior that they may have had to tolerate from customers, colleagues, or even you? Never underestimate the currency of appreciation and leading from your heart.

Taking stock of the capabilities that your current employees bring to the organization is important to reflect on. Have you done a cost benefit analysis of each person’s prospective departure should they choose to exercise their rights of at-will employment and move on? This should be a constant exercise of knowing what people are looking for in their careers and what motivates them. Three decades of experience tells me many people approach the new year in a similar fashion that you do as a business owner or manager. While you are working on your plans, budgets, and numbers…. employees are doing the same as it relates to their personal goals, desires, and personal situations. New year’s resolutions often contain some aspect of work situations. It is more money, more balance, a different reporting manager, different responsibilities, a compressed workweek, a reduced workweek, a different location, or some continuing education desire that one of your top performers has. Understanding the goals of your employees is an important strategic facet of the health of your organization.

 While it may or may not be practical to fulfil every individual desire, one of the most common response from managers during exit interviews when they learn the why of a departure was “why didn’t they tell me, we could have done that?”  Often doing the “math” of turnover is not a spreadsheet we are including during our budgeting process. We often react unfavorably when we hear the pay expectations of individuals, yet when we are faced with the real prospect of turnover of that person, we find we can react and do it. Rather than being reactive to turnover, be proactive as it relates to your current population.  Take a minute to reconcile the company goals with each the goals of your employees. Being proactive to stabilize your current workforce is the most strategic thing you can do to combat turnover.

Written by: Chris Ament, HR Director Consultant, ConnectedHR

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