Let’s survey your current staff!
How many people in your organization have been there 10+ years, are deep-rooted and likely aren’t going anywhere until retirement? We’ll call these staff “trees.”
And how many people haven’t been there long, and their position will likely turn over multiple times in the next few years? We’ll call these roles our “revolving doors.”
Today, what percentage of your team is trees verses revolving doors? Is it 70/30, 50/50, 30/70? There’s no right answer or target number, but it’s important to know your current breakdown.
Now let’s project out a few years. By 2020 or 2025, do you think you’ll have more or fewer roles turn into revolving door positions? If you’re like most of my clients, you now realize an increase in shorter-term workers is imminent.
A New Management Mindset
What does it take to be a sustainable organization moving forward? It takes a new way of leading, planning and operating. Here are some strategies we suggest:
1. Focus on slowing the revolving door, not stopping it.
2. Prepare and restructure for shorter-term workers.
3. Seniority doesn’t matter. Value does!
4. Know your people.
5. Build trust through transparency.
6. Retention is EVERYONE’S job. Own it!
"Some companies tell me they rely on the expertise and speed of veteran staff to meet customer demand and make a profit, and they cannot operate with a short-term workforce. It is time for those organizations to thoughtfully determine whether their business models and current pricing are sustainable as labor costs at all levels increase."
1 Focus on Slowing the Revolving Door, Not Stopping It
In most organizations, long-term incentives are gone. Few companies offer pensions today, and for those who do, no one under 35 believes they will ever see those benefits.
So if we know new staff are unlikely to become “lifers,” how do we extend the tenure of each new hire, even if it’s just a little bit? Can we make a 6-month worker a 12-month worker? How do we get that 2-year person to stay three?
Take a look at your current incentives for staff. Are you stuck in the old annual performance rut? For young staff, 12 months is a long time! And the gap of recognition between the 13- and 24-month mark is a critical time.
Have you identified at what points in their tenure most staff leave your organization? If it is mostly within the first 90 days, you likely have a recruiting issue, are not giving people a realistic job preview or your front-line managers are scaring people away. If it’s at the 13- to 18-month mark, the staff probably see little incentive to stay until the 24-month mark if they’re convinced they’ll only get a 3 percent cost of living adjustment (which is NOT a raise).
Think about it as the opposite of a bottleneck. Figure out where people are jumping ship and determine ways to plug that hole in the boat so they can’t (or don’t want) to escape at that point. Also, consider what new staffing milestones are worth rewarding.
2 Prepare and Restructure for a Shorter-Term Workforce
Some companies tell me they rely on the expertise and speed of veteran staff to meet customer demand and make a profit, and they cannot operate with a short-term workforce. It is time for those organizations to thoughtfully determine whether their business models and current pricing are sustainable as labor costs at all levels increase.
Several components of our businesses must adapt to this new shorter-term workforce, including operations, training, management and more. The following are some specifics to consider:
• Are resources readily available for new hires to access or do you expect them to memorize what they learn in orientation?
• Have you revamped your on-boarding timeline to cover what each new hire needs at the time they need it or are you cramming all the training requirements into the first few days of their new role? (It’s a waste of training dollars and is impossible for people to retain.)
• Are your systems, software and apps new-user friendly? Do they have FAQ sections and give step-by-step instructions for comprehensive processes?
• Are your managers spending enough time getting to know their new staff? Are they mentoring new hires and offering ways to advance their careers so staff don’t feel “stuck?”
• Do your seasoned workers bully or “eat their young” as new hires arrive? Can you separate these toxic individuals from the new hires, or is it time to separate those individuals from the organization completely, if they are causing more employee turnover?
"Regarding management approaches, one size doesn’t fit all any more. Today’s workforce is extremely diverse not only in regards to race, religion, gender, generation, etc., but simply by mindset."
3 Know Your People
Regarding management approaches, one size doesn’t fit all any more. Today’s workforce is extremely diverse not only in regards to race, religion, gender, generation, etc., but simply by mindset. We all have different priorities, different motivators, and different goals in our lives and careers.
How well do you know your staff, professionally and personally? Do you know what keeps them up at night? Do you know why they work for you, or why they would consider leaving? Don’t assume. Go ask!
As a leader, you also cannot assume people think like you do, were raised like you were or will behave as you behave. They can’t read your mind, so you must communicate your expectations more clearly than ever before to be sure everyone’s on the same page. Otherwise, your staff will be frustrated when they are reprimanded for something they didn’t know they weren’t supposed to do.
4 Seniority Doesn’t Matter – Value Does!
Is someone who’s been with your organization a long time more valuable to your company? Maybe, but maybe not.
If that person has gained new knowledge and/or skills over time, built positive relationships, has become a resource for troubleshooting and is loyal because they believe in the organization and its leadership, they should be compensated for bringing added value. On the other hand, if that seasoned employee has not bettered themselves or increased their value to the organization over time, they may not be as valuable to the organization as a newer hire could be in the same role.
Smart employees know their value and grow their value. And they don’t settle for being undervalued or letting those less valuable receive more compensation. If they are more valuable to the company today than they were six months ago, why doesn’t increased compensation typically follow? It’s often because companies are trying to get as much as they can for as little as they can, and because they are set in their ways regarding timelines for compensation discussions (i.e. annual performance reviews).
Seniority-based approaches reward loyalty for loyalty’s sake. But today, we know those staff are much more likely to stay simply because they are deeply rooted in the organization. Workforce statistics report the longer someone has been at an organization, the less likely they are to leave.
So should you be making staffing, scheduling or other decisions based on seniority? Not if you want to retain new hires. Focus on value and recognizing any job well done and you will see an increase in loyalty and length of tenure.
5 Build Trust Through Transparency
Going back to loyalty, most new hires have very little commitment to your organization on day one.
After seeing my hardworking mom get laid off three times when I was young, I learned that loyalty isn’t automatic in either direction today. It must be earned over time from both sides. The best way I’ve seen this happen with clients is by increasing their level of transparency.
In a skeptical society where the news uncovers so-called leaders doing bad things nearly every day, it is essential that organizations and managers be as open and honest as possible with your staff. If you leave any gaps, workers will fill in the missing pieces with their own assumptions (typically negative ones).
Consider ways to be more authentic, sincere and accessible to your staff and they will become more loyal every day. If they truly believe you have their back and would fight for them, if needed, they will have your back too!
6 Retention is Everyone’s Job
At many companies when turnover rises, executives point to HR to fix it when HR’s plate is already overflowing with terminations, payroll, benefits management and back-fill recruiting. HR then blames bad managers for running off good people and managers push back complaining the company does not give them enough time or training to manage their people appropriately. The real issue is that no one OWNS retention.
It’s time to build a culture of retention where people at all levels understand the benefits of retaining staff. Are your staff rewarded for recruiting new hires and given tenure bonuses tied to how long those new hires stay? Be sure you have incentives built in, but also educate all staff on reasons to work together on retention efforts so they are not constantly short-staffed.
And be sure to reevaluate how you incentivize your managers as well if retention isn’t a part of the current equation. Are your management bonuses short-term or long-term focused? If they are tied to quarterly goals, understand that some business decisions, which would be better in the long run of the organization, are likely to be overruled for an alternative that will provide those managers with quick money on their next check. If turnover is a growing issue, ensure your managers at every level are compensated for improving employee retention within their department.
Same Approach = Same Results
If the trajectory of your employee turnover is headed in a positive direction, then keep doing what you’re doing. However, if your retention is getting worse every year, it is likely time to try a new approach.
Is it time for your leaders to think differently about their management mindset? If so, then it is time to demand more leadership training to create a culture of retention with leaders at all levels on board.
Everyone’s Thinking Short Term…and It Started with the Companies
A century ago, companies were built to provide a much-needed service or product. Once the information age came to be, entrepreneurs started building companies to make money. When investors became more prevalent over the last few decades, the goal-setting timeline became shorter and shorter. Investors wanted their returns faster with a quick exit strategy and/or wanted the company to make decisions based on what would increase quarterly dividends or stock prices. We started down a slippery slope at that point where some companies would make decisions based on short-term gains versus long-term sustainability.
That mentality and approach is now backfiring. Companies are upset that staff isn’t committed anymore. Why should they be? They know if managers want to hit their bonuses this quarter, it could mean downsizing to make the books looks better.
Author Bio Workforce thought leader Cara Silletto, MBA, is the president and chief retention officer at Crescendo Strategies, a firm committed to reducing unnecessary employee turnover by bridging generational gaps and making leaders more effective in their roles. Cara is a highly sought after national speaker and trainer. Workforce Magazine named her a “Game Changer,” Recruiter.com listed her in their 2016 “Top 10 Company Culture Experts to Watch” list and she is a co-author of the book, “What’s Next in HR.”