Why they left and how to attract another one
About a year ago I got a call from someone who was struggling to keep one of their best employees from leaving their organization. “Lynda,” he said, “we really want to keep Sarah – she has some killer skills and a great attitude. She works really hard. She just got a job offer that will pay her more than we are able to match right now. She’s been flexible and adaptive, learned on her feet, and was really dedicated to the organization, and not just to a given role she was in so it’s going to be really hard to replace her. What should we do to try and keep her?”
The short answer is you most likely can’t. Matching the money probably won’t do it because employees quit months before they actually quit and sometimes when you are the perfect employer the result is your best employees leave anyway. The problem isn’t always about whether some of your best employees are leaving as much as it is why aren’t you constantly cultivating more of them?
Why You Are Losing Your Best Employees – The Reality of Constant Recruiting
According to Gallup research, 51% of all employees are actively looking for another job.
The average worker, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, currently holds 10 different jobs before age forty, and this number is projected to grow. Forrester Research predicts that today’s youngest workers will hold 12-15 jobs in their lifetime. That means that before someone is 40 they are likely to change jobs every couple of years.
Business people tend to quote this statistic in a negative way and blame workers for “constantly changing jobs” which is why they fear investing in developing their skillsets. They argue, “why would I invest money in someone’s development when they are probably going to leave in the next couple of years”. Indeed, that is clearly one way to look at it. Another way to look at it is this way: If you don’t invest in your team member’s growth and development you are surely going to lose them because 45% of young professionals (don’t call them millennials – they hate that and will hate you for using that stereotyped word… especially if they are smart and hard working) say that it is “very important” to them that they take a job that accelerates their professional or career development.
ABC’s are now the ABR’s of Recruiting
There was an acronym made famous in a crude speech given by a foul talking, brutal sales manager in Glengarry, Glen Ross, from a 1992 film that was ABC… “Always Be Closing”. If you were on his sales team and weren’t following that rule, the results would be dire.
For today’s leaders when it comes to getting and retaining the highest potential employees, that slogan may be “Always be Recruiting.” If you’re not, the results could be dire indeed to the future growth of your organization.
With a national unemployment average hovering at or below 4%, your best employees will leave and you need to be constantly thinking about how you will replace them, the same way you think about always attracting new customers or clients. As the baby boomers leave the workforce and there are less Gen Xers to replace them, you are going to be creating a work environment that young professionals feel like they can grow within. As long as they’re growing, your high potentials are more likely to stick with the organization. When there are no positions for them to move up and into or their pay is capped, they feel they have no choice except to leave. To fight the current reality of today’s workforce will result in your organization not effectively planning for the future.
Your job, as an organization, then becomes coaching your best employees to discover their professional potential and work with them to develop their skills and abilities to get them there, whether they stay with you or not.
The Good News About Losing Your Best Employee
There’s some really good news to come from all of this so stay with me for another couple of minutes. As a leader in authority, you still have the power. You are not being held hostage by social media or Glassdoor® ratings. If you accept the current reality of today’s workforce and proactively plan for constant shifts in your own, you can create a place where the best people want to work and refer their high potential friends to work for, too. Your best employees can help you find their replacements.
It is happening in companies right now. Here’s an excerpt from a current employee at a company called Fast Enterprises that my daughter Melody went to work for because of the reviews posted on their Glassdoor® account like this one:
I have been working at Fast Enterprises full-time (More than 5 years)
Fast, even at the 1000+ size it is, still cares deeply about each and every employee. Their benefits, even the way they help people move, the way they bring individuals AND their spouses/families into the culture, it super impressive and I love that about Fast. The work we do is serious in terms of being important work – our clients are generally very positive to work with and welcoming, so it is a pleasant place to work.
Any con I can think of is also a pro depending on how you look at it. Occasional relocation is also an opportunity to experience a new place and city. Occasional overtime is also an opportunity to make $.
Advice to Management
Employees love the partner interaction – everyone enjoys having a partner on their project or visiting their project. Keep that up!!
Stop thinking the workforce is going to change and start changing the way you go about retaining and recruiting them. Many of the best HR professionals today know what needs to be done and many times are not given the support and resources to execute the most contemporary methods.
Leaders like you have the authority and ability to create the future workforce at your organization that will propel you to 2025 and beyond. Antiquated want ads will not attract star players that desire to be on your team. Realizing that star players are being recruited by great companies and can choose to work anywhere they want to right now, will. Update the recruitment ads to attract star players so they will want to choose your company to work for. Use social media and YouTube to tell your story and connect with people regardless of where they currently work or are living. The new tactics are actually much cheaper than the old ones. The real question is, are you ready to use them?