In “The Wizard of Oz,” the Munchkins rejoiced when Dorothy inadvertently killed the Wicked Witch of the East. Relief, hope and joy filled the air. While those in the real world rarely burst into song, a similar euphoria erupts when a poor, disgruntled and disruptive worker or boss leaves. On the other hand, regret and sadness accompany the loss of a highly competent and caring employee or boss.
Are you experiencing turnover in your business or department? Are you losing great, mediocre or poor employees? Is your turnover isolated, or can you identify pockets and patterns where it occurs most often? Do you know why your people have left?
It never ceases to amaze me how organizations can lose a rash of good employees without identifying what is going on. Losing one employee is an anomaly. Losing two or more is a pattern.
Wise leaders look for patterns and want to know what is going on when an employee leaves. Is there a problem with the boss, coworkers or culture? Are they trading up for better pay or work conditions? Is the move an advancement or a better fit for their skills?
My mother was a beloved school principal. Fair, caring and extremely hardworking, turnover during her tenure was nonexistent. Another principal had so many transfer requests that the administration, instead of addressing the cause of the mass exodus, informed the staff that no more transfers would be granted. Leadership is sadly lacking when a blind eye is chosen over taking care of problems.
As a professor at a Mid-American Conference university, it was common for up-and-coming coaches, like Brian Kelly, who is now the head coach at Notre Dame University, to be plucked away by bigger, more prestigious schools. It’s the nature of the beast. Perhaps that is happening in your organization. Fantastic employees can get recruited away.
Here are tips for keeping great employees:
1. Check in on them. Regularly ask how they are doing, see if they are satisfied with their employment, and inquire if there is anything they need from you. If there’s a problem or need, you want the chance to be proactive.
2. Demonstrate you care about them. Ask about their hopes and dreams, inquire how their family is doing, and ask about their holiday or weekend. If a family member comes in, greet them with a smile and a handshake.
3. Express appreciation. A sincere thank you can go a long way toward keeping high-performing employees motivated and engaged. In addition, a small gift such as a Starbucks card, tickets to the movies, or a restaurant gift card are inexpensive ways of recognizing and rewarding hard work.
4. Take care of business. If there are bullies in your workplace, shut them down. Do the same with individuals who lie, stir the pot or manipulate others. In addition, if there are slackers who aren’t pulling their weight, give them a chance to step up to the plate or let them go. As Dr. Brenda Freeman wisely said, “Bad behavior left unchecked grows.”
5. Count the cost. When you consider the price of having to find and train someone new, the lost productivity, the burden on others to pick up the slack and the hit to employee morale, even a substantial raise can be a far cheaper alternative than losing a great employee.
Keep your eye on employee satisfaction and take care of personnel problems in your workplace. As the economy continues to rebound, you certainly don’t want your best employees ripe for the picking.