Your Best Defense Against Restless Feet
by Holly G. Green
Suppose one-third of your employees suddenly walked off the job. Think it might impact your ability to serve your customers and achieve your strategic goals?
Granted, the odds of every third employee taking a hike all at once are slim. But according to a recent survey conducted by MetLife, 36 percent of employees hope to leave their job within the next 12 months.
Some turnover can be healthy for a business. Especially when it’s the low performers exiting the organization. But 36 percent of your workforce? I don’t think so!
The survey, which polled more than 1,500 employers and 1,400 full-time workers, also reported a significant decline in employee loyalty. Less than half (47 percent) of the respondents said they felt “very strong loyalty” to their employers. Interestingly, a slightly larger number (51 percent) felt their employers had very strong loyalty to them.
More ominous for business leaders is the downward trend in employee loyalty. In 2008, the MetLife survey reported that 59 percent of employees felt strong loyalty toward their employers. This year’s survey represents a decline of 12 percentage points.
With the economy slowly turning around and unemployment falling into single digits in many areas of the country, look for headhunter and recruiter activity to pick up. Which means now is a good time to go into defensive mode in regards to your people. So that when the recruiters come calling, your best performers won’t have an interest in listening.
One of the best ways to keep your top talent (and even your medium talent) is to re-recruit them. In other words, invest a little extra time in making them feel wanted and appreciated, as if you were attempting to bring them on board for the first time.
1. Pause and Take Note of Your Top Performers
Sometimes we get running so fast in our own jobs that we take our best performers for granted. We all need people who can get the job done without requiring much attention from us. And we also need to pause from time to time and acknowledge their efforts.
2. Take a Moment to Thank Them
Often, the best acknowledgements are spontaneous. The next time you find yourself alone with a top performer, say something like, “I probably don’t tell you this enough, but I really appreciate having you on our team. You set a great example for other employees with your work ethic. And I know that when you say you’re going to do something, I can count on it to get done.” Be specific about why you value their contributions, and be sincere.
3. Spend Time with Them
Top performers understand how busy you are because they’re running just as fast to get their jobs done. That’s why your time and attention are so valuable to them. Schedule regular one-to-one meetings with your stars, ideally once a month, but once a quarter at minimum. Make the meetings their time, not yours.
During the meetings, ask what they need from you to produce the results you expect. Talk about their career development and what you can do to help them advance. If this sounds time consuming, consider how much time you would have to spend in interviewing and selecting a replacement. Invest a small percentage of that and you might be amazed at how far it goes in retention.
4. Offer Developmental Opportunities
Pause and consider whether there might be a desirable project the person would want to participate in or that would help to advance their careers. If so, make it happen, even if it might cause a few minor disruptions. The small amount of time away from their regular job to do a project they consider a real benefit is nothing compared to the time and knowledge you will lose if they leave.
From a logical perspective, investing in re-recruiting offers a tremendous return on investment. So why don’t we do it more often?
Because we’re so busy running that we don’t pause to consider the consequences of not doing it. Or, we’re so used to getting things wrong and having to do them over that we fail to see how much time and effort it would save by slowing down just a little to get it right the first time.
Leadership is all about doing what it takes to help the organization win. And in today’s environment, winning requires a team of talented individuals who feel appreciated and get recognized and rewarded for their efforts.
What are you doing to re-recruit your best people?
Holly is the CEO of THE HUMAN FACTOR, Inc. (www.TheHumanFactor.biz) and is a highly sought after and acclaimed speaker, business consultant, and author. Her unique approach to creating strategic agility, helping others go slow to go fast, will change your thinking.