A relatively new phenomenon is sweeping through corporate America (and some other countries as well): employees who will leave a job in a shorter time frame than it took to find one. Attrition rates in some industries border on the insane. As one corporate leader told me, “If only half our people quit every year, it would be a big improvement and save us millions.”
When did we become a culture of quitters? When did people start to think of most job opportunities as disposable? In this article, we give you the non-sugarcoated truth you deserve.
- They don’t see a path that leads to better opportunity and pay. Telling someone that hard work and building relationships are key to getting promoted will no longer fly. Not only will this very reluctant dog not hunt; it’s possible that it never really picked up the scent to begin with. This single factor drives your most talented employees away while encouraging tenure among those who are short on talent and long on explanations. Your most talented people have options; they might have headhunters contacting them every week. But the people with no talent and drive — the ones who believe they don’t have a shot at a better life — are in for the long haul and will pledge their undying loyalty!
Solution: These days, employees under 40 years old need to understand exactly what is required to accomplish their goals. That means it’s in writing, it’s very clear, and it adheres to a time line (within a three-year period).
- You have a very restrictive cell phone policy. You may have noticed that many young people seem to have their phone in hand. They don’t just have their phone with them; they, in fact, are with their phone. It’s not in their pocket or their purse; it’s part of their person. That’s right — left to our own devices, we literally walk around staring at our devices. If you want to punish a young person, just take his phone away. According to a study conducted by InsightExpress in 18 countries with 1,800 respondents, 75 percent of 18- to 30-year-olds spend as much time socializing online as they do in person. Forty-six percent say they use their phone to text during meals, and 30 percent text every time they go to the bathroom. Furthermore, a random sampling by Wynn Solutions (using 18- to 30-year-olds to ask the questions) showed the InsightExpress figures to be relatively low. Let’s get real: If you ask a person under 40 years old how many times a day he or she checks the phone, the honest answer is “I lose count.” A device you carry everywhere and check first thing in the morning and the last thing at night is an extension of who you are (as disturbingly science-fiction as that sounds). Solution: So, it’s common sense that heavy phone restrictions could contribute to employee disengagement and job dissatisfaction. It may be important for safety reasons to manage cellphone usage in industrial areas, but if there is no danger of distraction, you can have phone breaks built in to work schedules or experiment with how much work loss vs benefits you receive from having a phone friendly workplace. Many organizations these days have a very hard time retaining top talent when the competition declares “It’s cool to use your phones.”
- Your initial training programs lack clarity and engagement. We can learn a lot from an anonymous comment left by a heavily recruited 24-year-old new hire after completing a training program: “It seems like there were some missing parts in the training, which is strange because there were, like, way too many parts. It kind of makes me feel unqualified, but it’s more likely that the training just sucks.” All too often, training programs are poorly constructed and delivered by unskilled presenters. Solution: New hires from among Gen Y were taught how to take tests rather than how to grasp broad concepts. As a result, they need extremely clear training programs that start with what success actually looks like (not just the steps to get there); they also learn best from short modules that can hold their attention. These young, eager-to-learn employees can quickly become disillusioned if they feel they’ll have to move forward without an ironclad grasp on how to do the job well.
- They don’t feel heard by leadership. According to recent research from Gallup, 70 percent of employees polled say they are disengaged. If you can turn the tide here and create engagement with your employees, you increase the likelihood that they’ll stay. Solution: To achieve this, consider having an outside source conduct surveys within your organization. Employees’ anonymous responses to specific questions will reflect what they think, how connected they feel, and what they believe about your organization and leaders. The results help you understand your own work culture well enough to identify what needs to be fixed. You can then build a plan that addresses your employees’ needs, whether that means designing more effective training, tweaking your social media policies, or improving interactions between workers and managers. As employees see their input transforming your culture, they’ll feel heard, they’ll perform better, and they will likely stay with you longer.
The only thing worse than failing to overcome the competition is realizing you don’t even have the right people to compete. As stated earlier, the best employees will exit and the bad workers will stay. So employee engagement tactics that create retention are foundational to all organizations. Regardless of great technologies like robotics, manufacturing software, and social media, it turns out you still have to have a bunch of people in your building to qualify as an organization. And, though younger workers desperately need their “tech-tools” to take us into the future, you don’t want to get stuck with the ones that don’t grasp how humans are involved IN that future!
I recently spoke at a convention with a really cool hologram technology that had the CEO materializing at multiple locations simultaneously like he was beaming down from the starship Enterprise. One youngish, not-so-bright AV guy commented, “Wow, this meeting does not even need actual people to succeed!” Hmmmmmm.
I had to ask: “So, without people, what would you be beaming onto the holography platform on the stage?”
“Well… that’s a good point, I guess. Maybe just some charts and cool graphics.”
Really? I pressed in. “So how long do you plan to have this job at the hotel?”
“Dude,” he replied, “my boss is like super-smart and took another job that he likes a lot better and now I’m the only person that knows how everything works. I would never leave here now. I can keep this job forever.”
Make sure your good people stay!