Employee turnover is one of the biggest expenses that a company faces. It is an absolute rarity to find people that have more than three years with a company in today’s work force, and to be my blunt self, I don’t blame them one bit. When the leaders of a company create zero value besides a paycheck, they give the employee no reason to stay.
Numerous times I’ve heard top level leaders say, “These employees have no loyalty.” When I ask what they’ve done to make the employees feel loyal, the response is almost always, “They’re getting a paycheck.” Duh! It’s generally a given if you do the work, you get paid. If your company’s #1 value for the employee is getting a paycheck, congratulations…you have successfully created an easy to leave environment.
It’s rarely the actual job itself that people leave, it’s mainly the nonexistent or poor leadership, the lack of investment in the employees, poor communication, low engagement, and low morale. The craziest thing to me is that it is super easy to create an environment that employees won’t want to leave but businesses would rather place their focus elsewhere and maybe offer a taco Tuesday every now and again, assuming that’s enough to pacify the masses. Lame!
I mentioned employee retention being easy, so I’ll put my money where my mouth is.
Here’s what you can do as a leader to make your employees think hard before leaving you…
As a leader, it is your responsibility to be proactive to ensure you are creating a stay worthy environment. First, you must acknowledge and understand fully what it means to not just be a leader by title, but an effective leader. You need to not just be able to recite your company’s mission, values, and goals…you need to know how to communicate them in a way that will get your team invested and excited to be part of it. Learn your team and how to inspire and motivate each of them. If your whole team is motivated the same way, you did a shitty job of hiring! Take the time to learn each person, at least enough to know what sparks their engine.
Lack of leader to employee communication is one of the biggest problems. If your employee doesn’t fully understand in black and white what is expected of him/her, it is 100% your fault. If they aren’t understanding completely, change the way you are communicating. Nobody cares if you think it’s the right way to communicate, if it’s not effective, it’s not the right way. Historically, great communicators adjust the way they communicate to the audience they are speaking to. I fully understand how frustrating it is when you are explaining something to an employee and they have a blank stare looking back at you. It took me a long time to understand that I was the dummy, not them. Okay, a few of them were, but still, it was my job to communicate effectively. One of the hardest parts of communicating effectively for leaders is the shutting up and listening part. If you learn how to listen and observe more than you speak, you will learn just about everything you need to know about the person and how to lead them in an effective way. Your body language is communicating minimally as much as your words are. Be aware of your facial expressions, the way you stand, your breathing, what your hands are doing. The person you are speaking to is noticing every move you make so intentionally gear your body toward the results you are looking to achieve.
Newsflash…taco Tuesday is not enough to say you care about your employees! As a leader, initiate benefits that actually matter to the employee. Invest in them personally. Instead of spending money on stupid gatherings that is more of a burden than anything else, put money into a Coach for them, continued education, a gym membership (or personal trainer)…These are things that will not only increase positive in their lives but will positively affect the company as well. Employees are grateful when the company invests in them personally, it makes them feel acknowledges and valuable. These are the things that stand out to people. I’ve heard clients speak often about the leaders that have positively impacted their lives and each time it is because that leader showed an interest in the personal health and growth of my client. The fact that you believe in your employee enough to invest money into them, for them is often what keeps an employee from leaving for a higher paycheck.
The last bullet point I’ll touch on is employee engagement. If you think it isn’t your responsibility as a leader to make sure your employees are engaged, you are dead wrong. It is absolutely your responsibility as an effective leader to initiate, inspire, and proactively create engagement…and to keep everybody engaged. There are a few crucial steps in engagement. 1. Hire the right people for each position 2. Ask questions that make your employees think outside the box, then listen to the answers and offer feedback. 3. Make time for your employees. Build an environment where they feel comfortable requesting your time, ear, and leadership. Certainly you don’t need to drop what you’re doing, but schedule a short meeting with them, within the next business day or two if possible. Make sure each person knows why they are doing what they’re doing. When the employee has a personal buy in, their engagement will come organically and will keep them with you for the long hall.
Clearly, there’s much more to being the type of leader that people don’t want to leave, but the above is an effective beginning. Being considered a leader is a blessing and it is up to you how effective you are.