Friday, June 10, 2011

Why Is Your Top Talent Walking Out the Door?

General Electric CEO, Jack Welch once said, "Any company trying to compete must figure out a way to engage the mind of every employee." A company's greatest asset is its employees. Without a dedicated workforce of men and women who enjoy their job and take a special interest in its success, a company can't survive. As the economy slowly recovers, the talent war is becoming fierce. Retention of top employees is a major battle many businesses are currently fighting. Could you afford to lose your top performers?

So, why do talented employees leave?
While it is definitely one of the top contributing factors, most research has shown that money is rarely the only reason an employee chooses to leave a company. It is usually a combination of a variety of other reasons that often has the biggest influence on a talented worker's decision to seek new opportunities. In order to keep your best and brightest from walking out the door, it's important to understand some of the non-money related causes of employee turnover.

Not the Right Fit for the Job
"A round man cannot be expected to fit in a square hole right away. He must have time to modify his shape." – Mark Twain

Due to layoffs and cutbacks during the recession, many workers were forced to take jobs outside their field of interest in order to pay bills or provide for their families. Now that the job market is beginning to open up, these employees will likely seek opportunities to get their careers back on track. Others may have taken a particular position, but realized it wasn't quite the job they had in mind.

It's Just Not Fun Anymore
"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." – Albert Einstein

New challenges and experiences are key to keeping top performers engaged in their work. The instant an employee feels their career trajectory has leveled off, work stops being fun and they begin to wander. At this point, it often doesn't matter how much money they make, they are more interested in finding a job they enjoy doing.

Work-Life Balance Out of Whack
"I've learned that you can't have everything and do everything at the same time." – Oprah Winfrey

With each new generation that enters the workforce, work-life balance becomes a bigger priority. This is especially true with Millennials, the youngest generation currently in the workplace. When busy schedules and increased stress at work start affecting an employee's home life or taking away time they could be spending pursuing non-work related interests and hobbies, employees start looking for a job that better fits their ideal lifestyle.

Lack of Recognition
"A name pronounced is the recognition of the individual to whom it belongs." – Henry David Thoreau

Everyone appreciates recognition for a job well done. When an employee consistently puts forth extra effort to ensure a successful project, works overtime, or takes on responsibilities outside their job description, being recognized for their hard work is often more important to them than bonuses and incentives. In a work environment where this kind of encouragement is lacking, it is easy for even top performers to become apathetic about their job.

Poor Relationship with Immediate Supervisor
"So much money has been thrown at the challenge of keeping good people – in the form of better pay, better perks and better training – when, in the end, turnover is mostly a manager issue." – Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman

A poor relationship with an immediate supervisor has shown time and time again to be one of the biggest reasons top talent decides to leave their job. A positive rapport and mutual respect is absolutely necessary in creating a productive manager-employee relationship. Hardworking employees don't want to waste their time and effort on a manager who is not in their corner. Bottom line, great leaders retain great talent.

One of the biggest differentiating factors that helps a company drive innovation and stay competitive is its ability to attract and retain top talent. It's a correlation that is clearly shown by companies that are consistently recognized for their strong corporate culture, such as Southwest Airlines and Zappos. If you've noticed your peak performers heading for the door, before offering them more money or bigger perks, it may be more beneficial to dig a little deeper into why they really want to leave.

Thanks to Jared Brox / Refresh Leadership


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