“I QUIT!” says one of your high potential employees as they enter the office on a Monday morning. You are perplexed and entirely caught by surprise by this situation. What do you do next? I would argue that battling employee turnover does not start when employees quit; it must begin the day they walk into your organization!
According to a CNBC article written in January 2022, “Americans quit jobs at a record pace during the second half of 2021, and more plan to resign in the new year. About 23% of employees will seek new jobs in 2022, while 9% have already secured a new position, according to a December ResumeBuilder.com poll of 1,250 American workers.”
According to a 2019 report from employee engagement platform Peakon, employees often leave because of managers. When bosses take a “my way or the highway approach” (meaning they don’t ask for or welcome input), their workers choose the highway.
For organizations to battle employee turnover, they must identify and understand the “variables” that will drive the need for new leadership approaches for the 21st-century business environment. Consider some of the tangibles for battling employee turnover that make an organization run efficiently and enable an environment where all employees feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves.
Strategic Goals: Go Deep and Wide
My thirty years of leadership experience have taught me that when leaders bring employees into the organization’s bigger strategy, they feel more connected and engaged. Influential leaders ensure that the organization’s strategic goals are clearly communicated and understood. They then divide the work by taking it deep and wide throughout the organization. By going deep and wide, the maximum number of employees can be part of achieving the organizational goals. When employees are part of accomplishing the organizational goals, they are part of the wins and feel how their efforts contribute to the organization’s overall success.
Real-Time Feedback: One-On-Ones (O3s)
Employees and leaders at all levels want to know where they stand with you. As employees enter your organization, who sits down with them and provides expectations, roles, and responsibilities? Are your O3s structured or haphazardly done, if done at all? This leadership technique is not hard to establish and will pay you back exponentially in employee engagement. A simple structure might include twenty minutes each of updates on new projects, new information to the employee, and a topic the employee wants to discuss with you. The essential part of the O3 is the follow-up note provided after the session. It can be an email or a document. The key is to provide the follow-up to track progress and enable learning and engagement, which reinforces your listened and helps the employee feel like you are treating them how they want to be treated.
The most effective organizations develop, communicate, and stick to a cadence for predictability. Predictability provides stability and a sense of normalcy to employees in your organization. Efficiency and time are best utilized when employees know the purpose of each cadence event, who is required to attend, and what preparation is needed. Inefficient organizations waste employee energy by calling last-minute meetings with no purpose. This technique communicates to employees that you don’t care about their time.
Remote Leadership: Location, Location, Location
Remote work options have been in play since the early 1970s. Leaders have differing opinions of where the best place is for employees to work. The most effective 21st-century organizations will be open to this discussion and determine what is best on a case-by-case basis. Some employees will work more effectively from a remote location with little supervision, while others will need a more structured environment of an office space. Leaders must know their employees, have candid conversations on the options, and most importantly, communicate expectations during one-on-ones.
Being Coach-like: Stay Curious
Early in my career, I had a boss who would ask about my family every week—and asked about them by name. Every time he asked, it gave me a sense of belonging. I truly felt as if he genuinely cared. Leaders who are coach-like evoke more awareness in their employees and help them think. Employees who are encouraged to think are more engaged and more satisfied. As Michael Stanier states in his book’s subtitle, “Say less, Ask More, and Change the Way You Lead Forever.”
More studies will show that engaged leadership is the key to battling employee turnover. Active leaders know how to combat employee turnover consistently. How deep and wide is your vision? Are you executing consistent O3s for feedback? Does your organization have predictability through a cadence? How effective are your remote leadership skills? How curious and coach-like are you as a leader? If you are experiencing employee turnover, the topics discussed above can help you change that trend.