It’s no secret that one of the most challenging initiatives for organizations today is to retain qualified talent. I’m not going to go into the reasons why this phenomenon is occurring. If I did so, this blog would turn into a dissertation.

Rather, I will speak about one powerful strategy organizations can consider to potentially decrease the proverbial “stop the bleeding” in employee turnover. I understand there are many reasons why people leave organizations, and many innovative strategies are being tried and tested to retain qualified employees. If I had the magic pill for organizations to keep all their top talent, I’d be writing this blog from the beaches of the Cayman Islands instead of Pittsburgh, PA. 

My goal in this short blog is to provide you with an easily implementable, low-cost, and highly effective means of increasing the retention of your top talent. I’ve coined this strategy “The Power of Connection.”  After you read and understand this basic but powerful strategy, you will realize that the simplicity of this concept is, for some baffling reason, overlooked all too often in organizations.

The Power of Connection refers to the relationship a leader has with employees. There is an old saying that employees leave their manager, not the organization. All too often, this adage holds true. I firmly believe that if a leader does not have a connection with employees, increased employee turnover will be the unfortunate result. Leaders should continue to understand that profit is important, organizational growth is essential, customer satisfaction is imperative, and revenue sustainability is critical. However, all those factors become nothing more than unattainable goals in a crystal ball without retaining qualified employees. 

The process of building a connection with employees is nothing more than prioritizing interactions, increasing emotional intelligence, and having effective communications. It is the sincere desire of leaders to get to know employees—their aspirations, wants, desires, and the challenges they face in life. Sounds simple, right? Then, why are so many organizations losing qualified talent because managers or supervisors fail to have meaningful relationships with their employees?

A recent Gallup Survey published by ABC News found the following: 

  • 79% of employees who quit their jobs claim that a lack of appreciation from their supervisor was a major reason for leaving 
  • 65% of Americans claimed they weren’t even recognized one time last year by their manager 
  • 82% of employees feel their supervisor doesn’t care or recognize them for what they do 

My question is, how well do you know your employees? Have you spent time building that connection where, if asked, the employee knows that you care and likes working for you? I cannot tell you how often I speak with clients, and they are not interested in leaving the organization, even for more money, if they feel comfortable working for a particular person. There’s an equated value in going to work every day and interacting with a trusted and respected leader.

Recently I had a conversation with Mr. Scott Gardner, Vice President of Operations for Weekes Forest Products, concerning The Power of Connection concept. Before I tell you what he said, I should preface this by saying Weekes Forest Products are serious about employee leadership development.  They are at the forefront of developing leaders; they have seen the positive results of developing and employing leaders who care for employees—while not forgetting about production and revenues. Therefore, they are incredibly successful! 

When I brought up The Power of Connection, Scott looked at me and said, “I call it Leadership By Walking Around (LBWA)”! Scott continued and stated, “When leaders walk around, spend time with employees, and intently watch and listen, the leader builds a connection so powerful that employees want to come to work. They enjoy working for that supervisor. They stick around—even when there are so many other opportunities in today’s employment marketplace.” Scott understands the Power of Connection!

So, next time you are thinking about creative and expensive initiatives to retain employees, stop and ask yourself if you are building that powerful connection with your employees!  If so, then you should be reaping the rewards of The Power of Connection!