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Are You Churning Employees? Here’s How to Stop Printer friendly format
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Gone are the days when “job hopping” placed a big red flag on a résumé. Today, young employees move up by moving on. Median employee tenure among 25- to 34-year-olds (Millennials) is just 3 years versus 10.4 years among 55- to 64-year-olds (Baby Boomers).
 
People no longer fear that job hopping will cost them career opportunities, but replacing a good employee is painfully expensive. A study from the Center for American Progress pegs the cost at between 16% of annual salary for high-turnover employees and up to 213% of salary for highly educated executives.
 
Some employees job hop to upgrade their pay and title. In most cases though, people leave their company because they’re disengaged. Which could mean they don’t care about their work at all. In contrast, engaged employees—those who are passionate, motivated, and invested in the company’s mission—tend to stick around.
 
To engage employees, and prevent your company from guzzling talent, take the following measures:

Communicate daily. According to a Dale Carnegie Training survey, 80% of employees who are dissatisfied with their direct supervisor are disengaged. Here’s the good news: Gallup finds that engagement is highest among employees who communicate daily with their managers (face-to-face, over the phone, or digitally). Moreover, employees who meet regularly with their manager are almost three times more likely to be engaged than employees who don’t.
 
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. If your manager is MIA for 2 weeks and then e-mails out of the blue, wondering why you haven’t finished this or that project, of course you’ll feel disengaged. Your relationship is just too jarring and unpredictable. As a starting point for all the subsequent tips, managers need to communicate daily with their direct reports. 
 
Set clear expectations. Clear to who? To both the manager and the employee. While this tip sounds nice in theory, it usually doesn’t work because the two parties fail to document expectations.
 
A spoken goal is just air; a written goal creates accountability. Good goals are also quantifiable and defined in detail. What is the employee expected to do? Why is it important? How will the manager and employee measure success? When should it be completed? These details make expectations clear. 
 
Give continuous feedback. What good is critique if you needed it 6 months ago? The annual performance review is broken because it sets up employees and their companies for failure. It’s littered with cognitive shortcomings like the recency bias, our tendency to weigh recent events more heavily than long-term patterns. Annual performance reviews are an archaic practice that dooms employees to skewed feedback and lost opportunities.
 
Thus, some of the world’s largest companies, including Accenture, General Electric, Adobe®, and IBM, have already replaced annual performance reviews with continuous feedback. “Continuous” means that employees receive feedback weekly or even daily, as opportunities arise. Feedback is not cheerleading—it should include a mix of critique and encouragement.
 
Teach managers to be coaches, not captains. Managers can’t play captain anymore—that ship sailed (no pun intended) with the industrial era. In work environments that value creativity and innovation, command-style leadership doesn’t work. Authoritarian work environments are where engagement goes to die.
 
The difference between a captain and coach is intention. Whereas the captain barks orders without much regard for how they’re executed, the coach cares about the means and ends. She wants her team members to continuously improve and hit more aggressive goals. Rather than snapping orders, she advises her employees on how to pursue their objectives in the most effective way. Coaches do not babysit—they demand hard work and results.
 
There is no single way to measure engagement. You could define engagement on a companywide survey and ask, “On a scale from 1 to 10, how engaged do you feel at work?” You could ask related questions like, “How likely are you to recommend our company to prospective employees?” Whatever you choose to do, keep the survey short so that employees actually participate.
 
If you take the company pulse once a month (or more often), you’ll identify systematic problems. Are all your engineers disengaged? Why? Do certain managers engage or disengage employers more than others? Again, why? Surveying helps you replicate the habits of successful managers and retrain or eliminate managers who cause turnover.
 
When employees value their work, understand expectations, and feel motivated to achieve clear goals, they stay on board. They anticipate their accomplishments and want to see the company achieve its vision. Ideally, they communicate daily with their managers and receive continuous feedback. The system won’t be perfect. Calibrate it based on engagement surveys and hard data on turnover and retention.
 
Job hopping is a symptom of disengagement, not a foregone consequence of hiring Millennials. Keep employees by creating a culture of engagement.
 
 

Reprinted with permission from BLR.