As new generations enter the job market and older generations exit some previously failsafe career advice has become outdated: “You don’t want your resume to look like a dartboard!” or “Find a stable employer where you can move up the ladder and build tenure.” These days it’s not all that often that you hear someone say they’ve been at a company for 20 years. It can be infrequent that someone stays at the same company for even 5. Why is this? It sounds cliche, but for many people, the saying, “The grass is always greener” can turn out to be true. Have you heard someone at your company say any of the following phrases? Or have you? “They don’t appreciate me here.” “They don’t pay me enough.” “If I go to ABC Company, I can finally become a manager and get a team.” “This company doesn’t have the budget to invest in the things I really want to do with my career.”
The employer side is changing too. They are most interested in the valuable skills you have (or are building) and oftentimes can put more weight on your potential to build those skills over what you’ve done and where. How loyal you were to your last employer may be on the list, just not near the top.
The quickly changing marketplace can be great for job seekers, but for the employer, it can cause a variety of challenges. For one, consider the overall cost to the organization of a high turnover rate. If you hire someone and they only stay for a year, think of all the associated costs to onboard and ramp up that employee, plus the cost of onboarding and ramping up a new employee. Depending on what the previous employee was able to accomplish on their own during that one year, it’s as if you’ve paid out an extra salary at the opportunity cost of what wasn’t completed. Yes, it does make sense to improve your onboarding process to reduce the time for each new hire to get up to speed, but let’s start with the problem. How do you keep those existing employees interested and feeling valued?
I’ve been on both sides of the fence. Below are five things I believe are important to not only consider, but to take action on if you want to keep the good ones. If this ends up seeming like too much work, rest assured there are social performance management solutions such as Work.com by Salesforce.com that can come to the rescue.
1. Are your employees valuable to you? If so, make them feel that way! Reward them not just for a job well done, but for things like professionalism, attitude, and commitment.
Don’t wait until a long project or pursuit is complete to recognize your sales and marketing personnel. Find ways to recognize them now and make it public. When it comes to sales teams, provide recognition upon achievement of key milestones such as quote attainment or pipeline building. Let them know what they are working on is important, how they conduct themselves matters to the organization, and how their attitude contributes to a cohesive project team environment.
Gamify performance and reward employees for completing tasks and reaching key business milestones. Use spiffs or small perks (i.e. lunch, bagels, coffee cards), adjust their pay for what they are worth, pay what they are worth, pay well, and provide good benefits. Let’s face it, salary, benefits, and perks are some of the key motivators for people considering making a jump.
Set up your employees for success. If you ask your employee to start a new project or pursuit and they don’t have existing relationships, but you do, introduce them publicly and set expectations for what your employee is trying to accomplish. So many valuable and experienced people can struggle or even fail in organizations when they are not set up for success.
2. Are you communicating with them? Keep your employees in the loop about important decisions being made above you and amongst your colleagues. Let them know about future plans and when things change. Communication not only helps your team better plan for the future, but also helps them feel connected and that they are part of something. It also helps them understand how what they are working on fits into the bigger picture. For example, why is your company targeting these particular key accounts or market segments in campaigns or team selling?
3. Are you keeping them interested? Challenge, reward and trust them. Don’t micro manage, no one likes this. If you can’t make it happen internally look externally by encouraging them to join professional groups or book clubs, pursue additional degrees, certifications or training or even take on pro-bono type charity projects. Understand what makes them happy and ask them what makes them stay. You may find that the answer surprises you. Often times, it’s not salary and benefits that keep folks on the payroll. It could have a lot to do with you as a manager or employer.
4. Are you being honest? Be honest when they haven’t met your expectations and help them get there through coaching and feedback. Chart out the steps and professional goals that they need to accomplish to reach the next level so that it’s crystal clear to them and keep it in sight. Promote from within whenever possible.
5. Do you recognize their career goals and help them get there? Support your employees if they want to move to a job opening in another area within the company (as it costs your company less than recruiting externally). Look internally to replace them.
The above list may seem long, but the good news is that you can support and reinforce all of the above with a social performance management tool such as Work.com. Additionally, if you’re already using Salesforce, Work.com can easily be leveraged. Stay tuned for my next blog post on this topic where I will share some short cuts on how you can quickly get started with Work.com.