February 06, 2019

How Can You Retain Good People After Investing So Much In Them?

David Marshall

David Marshall
CEO/

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With unemployment being as low as it is, it’s difficult to keep employees around because they can afford to be more mobile. People are more transitory. They often change companies to make more money, take a higher position, or even just because they want a change of scenery.

They’ll even move from city to city for newer and better opportunities. While inertia may be keeping many people in their jobs and their cities, the more motivated and capable ones often have one eye out for new opportunities.

This wasn’t as important when unemployment was at 9%, but now that it’s around 3%, it’s critical. People can up and leave at a moment’s notice and you have to start the hiring and training process all over again. These days, Millennials want to feel fulfilled and to like the people they work with. This is different from when we Baby Boomers were younger. You went to work, did your job, and focused on providing for your family; whether you liked your job or not was immaterial.

This is a problem because many companies have invested a lot of time and money in these employees, helping them to grow, learn new skills, and develop professionally. They become the kinds of employees who really help the company excel, and just when you’re seeing a payoff from all your time and money, they’re heading off to greener pastures.

If you want to keep these great employees around, you may have to modify what you do to retain them. Right now, there are more jobs available than there are people to fill them. Manufacturers are especially feeling the pinch as state after state is facing a qualified worker shortage. This means it’s a job seeker’s market, and they’re the ones dictating what’s important and what is acceptable.

This means that hiring managers are going to have to be more selective in their hiring process to ensure they find people who are very compatible with the company culture. They need to focus on finding people who really love what they do.

I’ve said before that it’s important to hire slow and fire fast, and this is why it’s important. If you rush to hire people to fill positions, you’re always going to have to deal with employee churn, as people are constantly coming and going. But if you can slow down and hire the best fit, they’re going to stick around longer and make your job easier.

Managers should be more engaged in the hiring process as opposed to it being solely an HR operation. The departmental managers should take direct ownership of the hiring process for the individuals that join their departments.

Managers should also develop relationships with their employees, as opposed to being restricted to a contributor-boss relationship. We’ve all been around organizations where the managers are distant from the associates, and they’re not always enjoyable places to work. But if you want to retain good people, you have to apply a lot more effort in developing relationships and be more than just a place to earn a paycheck. That way, this is more than “just a job,” the company becomes a place they want to be, filled with people they want to be with.

Companies are also going to have to pay more attention to the individual to make sure he or she feels like the company is engaged with and interested in them. This will involve continuing to grow and develop employees. Send them on training programs, pay for certifications, and even pay for their education. It’s not uncommon to ask employees to stay at a company if you invest in credentialing and their college education, so consider that option as well, in order to slow any brain drain that might happen after you’ve paid for their education.

In the end, you’re going to retain better talent longer if you can help your employees feel valued and appreciated. If you invest in them and their growth and help them learn new skills. Give them a sense of belonging and build relationships between management and the employees. This way, your employees will feel more fulfilled and valued, and see the company as the source of that fulfillment. That will help them stay much longer and reduce employee churn, which will reduce hiring costs.

Comments? You can contact me directly via my ExecRanks profile.

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