How to Keep Your Best Employees From Walking Out the Door

When it comes to employee engagement, many employers are talking a good game. Indeed, the phrase has become popular among corporate leaders. But are companies actually moving the needle?

A Gallup report from a few years ago estimated that US businesses lose between $450 and $550 billion per year due to poor employee engagement. And that’s not million – as the mathematically-challenged Dr. Evil might have suggested in Austin Powers – but billion.

Part of that cost is having to replace talented workers who leave for other opportunities. Too many employers are turning “happy campers” into job seekers, says employee engagement authority David Lee.

On a recent podcast and webinar with XpertHR, Lee discussed where organizations are falling short with their employees, and what they can do to create a more positive work experience that keeps their A-list employees aboard.

“Do with your employees what you do with your customers,” said Lee. “Most companies don’t do this even though human capital is their number one asset.” Just as every decision you make matters with your brand, the same holds true with your employees. “Every interaction with supervisors matters,” noted Lee, who asserted that managers account for 70 percent of the factors affecting employee engagement.

In this competitive job market, he said it’s more important than ever for employers to create a work experience that top talent wants to be a part of. So here are some key questions to ask to keep employees from disengaging, according to Lee:

  • Do employees feel like their efforts matter?
  • Are your managers micro-managing?
  • Is there meaningful professional development?
  • Does the organization express appreciation for top performers?
  • Do you rely too much on goodies, gimmicks and gala events?
  • Is your employee engagement survey just “lip service” or real?

Only by answering these questions and addressing them can employers ensure that productive workers do not feel taken for granted.

And with younger employees becoming a higher percentage of the workforce, this is especially problematic. Younger employees are not as willing to “suck it up,” and are more willing to leave, according to Lee.

But with employees of any age, he is quick to add that organizations hurt their bottom line even when employees don’t depart. This is because poor engagement can lead to a team of ROAD Warriors (Retired on Active Duty) where people are showing up at work, but aren’t inspired to do a great job.

Acknowledging the low unemployment rate, Lee said, “It’s clear we’re getting the bodies in the door, but we’re not connecting with their hearts and minds.” For instance, he noted that the number one thing employees want from their managers is straightforward feedback. However, Lee says HR has found this is the skill most lacking in managers.

But connecting with your employees and making them feel appreciated can go a long way. Lee concludes that stay interviews –one-on-one interviews between managers and valued employees – are vital to learn both what these employees enjoy and what is frustrating them. Lee says stay interviews are a great way to help employers improve their employee retention efforts before it’s too late.

For more insights from Lee, listen to “How to Keep A-List Talent From Exiting Stage Left.”

What’s your biggest challenge in retaining good employees? Let us know by leaving a comment below.


, ,