Let’s survey your current staff! How many people in your organization have been there 10+ years, are deep-rooted and likely aren’t going anywhere until retirement? We’ll call these staff “trees.” And how many people haven’t been there long, and their position will likely turn over multiple times in the next few years? We’ll call these our “revolving door” roles.Today, what percentage of your team is trees verses revolving doors? Is it 70/30, 50/50, 30/70? There’s no right answer or target number, but it’s important to know your current breakdown.
Now let’s project out a few years. By 2020 or 2025, do you think you’ll have more or fewer roles turn into revolving door positions? If you’re like most of my clients, you now realize an increase in shorter-term workers is imminent.
A New Management Mindset
What does it take to be a sustainable organization moving forward? It takes a new way of leading, planning and operating. Here are some strategies we suggest.
1. Focus on Slowing the Revolving Door, Not Stopping It
In most organizations, long-term incentives are gone. Few companies offer pensions today, and for those who do, no one under 35 believes they will ever see those benefits.
So if we know new staff are unlikely to become “lifers,” how do we extend the tenure of each new hire, even if it’s just a little bit? Can we make a 6-month worker a 12-month worker? How do we get that 2-year person to stay three?
Take a look at your current incentives for staff. Are you stuck in the old annual performance rut? For young staff, 12 months is a long time! And more recognition between the 13- and 24-month mark is a critical time.
Have you identified at what points in their tenure most staff leave your organization? If it is mostly within the first 90 days, you likely have a recruiting issue, are not giving people a realistic job preview, or your front-line managers are scaring people away. If it’s at the 13- to 18-month mark, the staff probably see little incentive to stay until the 24-month mark, if they’re convinced they’ll only get a 3% cost of living adjustment (which is NOT a raise!).
Think about your employees’ career pipeline. Figure out where people are jumping ship and determine ways to plug that hole in the boat, so they can’t (or don’t want) to escape at that point. And find new staffing milestones worth rewarding—not the traditional model of 5- and 10-year pins.
2. Prepare & Restructure for a Shorter-Term Workforce
Some companies tell me they rely on the expertise and speed of veteran staff to meet customer demand and make a profit, and they cannot operate with a short-term workforce. It is time for those organizations to thoughtfully determine whether their business models and current pricing are sustainable as labor costs at all levels increase.
Several components of our businesses must adapt to this new shorter-term workforce, including operations, training, management, and more. The following are some specifics to consider:
- Are resources readily available for new hires to access or do you expect them to memorize what they learn in orientation?
- Have you revamped your onboarding timeline to cover what each new hire needs at the time they need it, or are you cramming all the training requirements into the first few days of their new role? (It’s a waste of training dollars and is impossible for people to retain that much information at once.)
- Are your systems, software and apps new-user friendly? Do they have FAQ sections and give step-by-step instructions for comprehensive processes?
- Are your managers spending enough time getting to know their new staff? Are they mentoring new hires and offering ways to advance their careers, so staff don’t feel “stuck?”
- Do your seasoned workers bully or “eat their young” as new hires arrive? Can you separate these toxic individuals from the new hires, or is it time to separate those individuals from the organization completely, if they are causing more employee turnover?
3. Know Your People
Regarding management approaches, one size doesn’t fit all any more. Today’s workforce is extremely diverse not only in regards to race, religion, gender, generation, etc. but simply by mindset. We all have different priorities, different motivators, and different goals in our lives and careers.
How well do you know your staff, professionally and personally? Do you know what keeps them up at night? Do you know why they work for you, or why they would consider leaving? Don’t assume. Go ask!
As a leader, you also cannot assume people think like you do, were raised like you were or will behave as you behave. And they can’t read your mind, so you must communicate your expectations more clearly than ever before to be sure everyone’s on the same page. Otherwise, your staff will be frustrated when they are reprimanded for something they didn’t know they weren’t supposed to do.
4. Seniority Doesn’t Matter – Value Does!
Is someone who has been with your organization a long time more valuable to your company now than they were years ago? Maybe. Maybe not.
If that person has gained new knowledge and/or skills over time, built positive relationships, has become a resource for troubleshooting, and is loyal because they believe in the organization and its leadership, they should be compensated for bringing added value. On the other hand, if that seasoned employee has not bettered themselves or increased their value to the organization over time, they may not be as valuable as a newer hire could be in the same role.
Smart employees know their value and grow their value. And they don’t settle for being undervalued, or letting those less valuable receive more compensation. If they are more valuable to the company today than they were 6 months ago, why doesn’t increased compensation typically follow? It’s often because companies are trying to get as much as they can for as little as they can, and because they are set in their ways regarding timelines for compensation discussions (i.e. annual performance reviews).
Seniority-based approaches reward loyalty for loyalty’s sake. But today, we know those staff are much more likely to stay simply because they are deep-rooted in the organization. Workforce statistics report the longer someone has been at an organization, they less likely they are to leave.
So should you be making your staffing structure, scheduling or other decisions based on seniority? Not if you want to retain new hires. Instead, focus on value and recognizing every job well done, and you will see an increase in loyalty and length of tenure of the current revolving door roles.
5. Build Trust through Transparency
Going back to loyalty, most new hires have very little commitment to your organization on day one.
After seeing my hardworking mom get laid off three times when I was young, I learned that loyalty isn’t automatic in any direction today. It must be earned over time from both sides. The best way I’ve seen this happen with clients is by increasing their level of transparency.
In a skeptical society where news outlets share stories of leader after leader doing bad things or not being who they said they were, it is essential that organizations and managers be as open and honest as possible with their staff. If you leave any gaps of information, workers will fill in the missing pieces with their own assumptions (typically negative ones).
Consider ways to be more authentic, sincere and accessible to your staff and they will become more loyal every day. If they truly believe you have their back and would fight for them, if needed, they will have your back too!
6. Retention is Everyone’s Job
At many companies, when turnover rises, executives point to HR—whose plate is overflowing with terminations, payroll, benefits management, and back-fill recruiting—to fix it. HR then blames bad managers for running off good people, and managers push back complaining the company does not give them enough time or training to manage their people appropriately. The real issue is that no one OWNS retention.
It’s time to build a culture of retention, where people at all levels understand the benefits of retaining staff. Are your staff rewarded for recruiting new hires and given tenure bonuses tied to how long those new hires stay? Be sure you have incentives built in, but also educate all staff on reasons to work together on retention efforts so they are not constantly short-staffed.
And reevaluate how you incentivize your managers as well, if retention isn’t already a part of their current compensation model. Are your management bonuses short-term or long-term focused? If they are tied to quarterly goals, remember that some business decisions, which would be better in the long run of the organization, are likely to be overruled for an alternative that will provide those managers with quick money on their next check. And if turnover is a growing issue, ensure your managers at every level are compensated for improving employee retention within their departments.
Same Approach = Same Results
If the trajectory of your employee turnover is headed in a positive direction, then keep doing what you’re doing. However, if your retention is getting worse every year, it is likely time to try a new approach.
Is it time for your leaders to think differently about their management mindset? If so, then it is time to demand more leadership training to create a culture of retention where leaders at all levels own it.
|Workforce thought leader Cara Silletto, MBA, is the President & Chief Retention Officer at Crescendo Strategies, a firm committed to reducing unnecessary employee turnover by bridging generational gaps and making leaders more effective in their roles. Cara is a highly-sought-after national speaker and trainer. Workforce Magazine named her a “Game Changer,” Recruiter.com listed her in their 2016 “Top 10 Company Culture Experts to Watch” list, and she is a co-author of the book, “What’s Next in HR.”|