Retention Is Like a Box of Chocolates

A lot of professionals are missing the boat when they look at retention as a single issue. It’s a multi-sided issue (It has 4 sides like a box of chocolates!).

Retention, attraction, motivation and product image
All come out of the same box of chocolates!

If you collect data from post-exit interviews (these are done 6 months after an employee leaves) you will get a list of Why people leave their jobs? If you also ask people at the time of hire/offer “why they took (or rejected) an offer?” you will find that they use almost the same criteria to accept a job as they use when they decide to leave a job.

If you go one step further and ask workers “What inspires them to increase their effort or productivity (motivation)” you will find an overlap between the three causes that is amazing.

Finally, look at customers and why they buy a particular product. You will find that the perception and image of the company producing the product is a top purchasing decision factor (at least in the high-tech field).

There is a direct relationship between a great place to work and a product’s image. In addition, you will also find that the similarities between the list of the most admired corporations, the list of the best places to work and the most profitable major corporations is less than subtle.

What does this all mean to CEOs and HR VPs?

It means simply that the efforts put into retention will also directly improve recruiting, the productivity of your workers and it will also positively impact the perceptions of your product! Four wins with a single approach.

If you would like to know what is commonly found on the list of factors that stimulates workers it does vary a little but surprisingly, not that much from industry to industry and country to country. Do your own research to find out for your firm but don’t be surprised if it ends up looking something like this:

Retention / attraction / motivation and
a great place to work factors include:

  1. A great boss that I trust, who communicates openly, recognizes my work, is consistent and gives me some control over what I do.
  2. A challenging and stimulating job that I look forward to every day.
  3. I’m given a chance to continually learn and grow in my job and as a person.
  4. It’s a “fun” place with a great team of co-workers and things to brag on (usually great employee programs, work environment or products).

The Bad Manager Identification Program!

By the way, it’s hardly ever the money by itself that causes people to leave.

It’s more likely “my manager is a jerk” AND the money stinks that starts them on the job search road. In addition money is a weak retention “cure” because giving a worker more money will only keep an “unhappy worker” around to whine and complain, but it will not make an unhappy worker happy. Managers like to hear “it’s the money” because it absolves them of the real blame! Despite what “Jerry McGuire” says “it’s NOT the money!”

The primary reason people leave
their jobs is bad management

Our managers are the primary ones responsible for most of the reasons people aren’t productive – communication, recognition, growth, and challenges! But when I ask HR managers (and I have literally asked thousands), “Where is their ‘bad management identification and fix-it program?’ all I get are blank stares! When I follow up with the question “Do you know who the bad managers are?” I get an instant response, of course, I can name them all! Why is HR so reluctant to even address the #1 retention, attraction and de-motivation issue? Are they afraid of managers? Most companies don’t even monitor and reward managers of attracting, retaining and developing their employees. Wake up HR!

HR’S role needs to be that of “find em, fix em or transfer them out of management”. Stop picking on the symptoms–retention rates and poor performing employees–and focus on the root cause of most attraction/retention/ and performance issues – bad managers!

After all when employees fail isn’t it the manager that hired them, didn’t motivate and failed to develop them? Great managers at leading firms like HP have an average turnover rate of around 3%, what’s yours?

When a productive employee leaves for a “BETTER” job stop blaming the employee, blame the manager for not making their CURRENT JOB BETTER! Bad managers are THE cause of employee retention problems! Remember you read it here (but you really knew it all along, didn’t you!)

As seen on Gately Consulting.

About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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