It just so happens that very talented people could be right under your nose, slaving away. Their talent may also be slipping away. High turnover rates aren’t just a sign of the times, they are also a clear indicator that something is wrong within a company.
As an executive leader who manages these people, part of your success meter is determined by how much your team likes their jobs. Attrition is a costly and unhealthy for any organization. Let’s take a look at 5 reasons good talent leaves bad companies:
The number one reason people leave a job is because they don’t like their boss. As an executive leader or manager, you are the number one reason many people like or dislike their jobs. When was the last time you asked yourself, ‘Are you a bad boss?’
Nasty, aggressive, miserable executive leaders who don’t communicate with their staff lose more people than anyone else. You don’t have to come to work singing everyday, but you do need to treat everyone fairly, with respect and be approachable for questions.
We are going to rank this as number 2. It’s important for your employees to see a clear career path. This doesn’t mean they need fancy titles, but on-the-job-training is a huge reason many folks are more satisfied with their work.
Lack of empowerment
Basically, if you have to ask permission, you start to feel like a grade schooler again. No one wants to be micromanaged. Executive leaders need to empower their people to make their own decisions.
There’s backlash to this, of course: Executive coaching helps leaders empower their people. In return, executive leaders know their departments are being run like clockwork even when they’re away on vacation or out of the office for business. It’s actually a little recognized win-win situation.
While bosses can’t necessarily do anything about cliques, executive leaders can try to foster team communications. Executive coaching intervention may promote communication and keep opposing forces growing strong, as well. If you have issues internally, try to find common ground everyone can agree on. When forces unite, politics lessen.
All you need to do is tell someone they did a good job. That’s it. You need to say to the person who worked late, ‘Thank you.’ In fact, just swing by their desk or shoot an employee an email. Executive leaders can’t just get wrapped up in running a company, they must be thankful to the people who do the work that makes it run.
Ultimately, a job has to be a good fit for a person just as much as a person has to be a good fit for a company. However, even fashion lines need accountants and creative businesses need technical folks. To keep everyone happy, pay attention to your management style. If you still can’t get it right, executive coaching will fill in the gaps and find solutions about why your top employees are leaving.
But we wanted to go a little deeper into the issue, so we asked our clients the primary reason behind their company’s retention issues. Internal issues, such as poor leadership and inadequate compensation, proved to be the number one reason employees are leaving with 67% of the vote. The overall talent shortage is also leading to employees switching to more desirable jobs at other companies, reported 11% of respondents. Another 6% of business leaders said they’re losing top talent due to competitors actively recruiting their employees. Only 15% of respondents said they were not experiencing any retention issues.
There is good news for employers in these survey results, though. If internal issues are the main reason employees are leaving, then employers have the ability to fix the problems and stem the tide of their exiting talent. As a business leader, now is the time to make changes. Moving too slowly to correct these problems can have a massive impact on your business’s ability to grow. Simply put, your company cannot afford to lose your top performers.
What specific actions are you taking to retain your top performers? What have your employees told you they need in order to stay engaged?
By Sherri Elliott-Yeary, Generational Guru
William James, the father of psychology, stated that a fundamental human need is to be appreciated. This idea is supported by many studies that show the number one need expressed by employees is to feel fully appreciated for their work. The bottom line: We do more for those who appreciate us.
Although leaders at all levels widely recognize the need for employee appreciation, it tends to be a blind spot. We generally believe we are much more appreciative of our employees than they think we are. Showing appreciation is not a matter of time and intention. It’s a matter of priority and action. We must convert our thoughts of appreciation into acts of appreciation.
You can appreciate something about an employee him/herself (e.g., professionalism, reliability, creativity, organization, anticipating needs, enthusiasm, helpfulness to others, balancing work and family). You can also appreciate an employee’s performance (e.g., quality of work, teamwork, hitting a deadline, great presentation, and consistency of results over time, level of commitment).
Keep in mind that appreciation is certainly not a one-size-fits-all need, so we need to personalize our appreciation.
For example, being recognized at a big department or company meeting might trigger more perspiration than inspiration for an introverted employee. Instead, use the information you learn about your employees to present an appropriate gift, token or sincere expression of appreciation. Invariably, the gift will be less important than the time and thought that went into it.
As a leader, here are some simple ways you can demonstrate your appreciation:
1. Allow employees to present their work to your boss. This is a great way to engage them, and it also shows your boss what kind of leader you are.
2. Offer employees a choice of projects to work on. When they buy into a project, they will put their hearts into it.
3. Tell an employee’s story of accomplishment at a team meeting. Detailed stories are perceived as more interesting, meaningful, thoughtful and memorable.
4. Sincerely and specifically communicate one or more of these expressions of appreciation…
- You really did a super job on that project!
- I am really impressed with your initiative.
- Thank you for handling that tough interaction so professionally.
- I appreciate the way you found a win-win solution.
- Thanks for helping me keep that meeting on track.
Gallup research revealed workgroups with at least a 3-to-1 ratio of positive to negative interactions were significantly more productive than those having less than a 3-to-1 ratio. In other words, more productive teams had at least three positive interactions for every one negative interaction.
What is the ratio for your team? Is it 1:1, 3:1, 5:1 or 10:1?
Track your team’s ratio for a week to gauge how well you are appreciating your employees. Look for moments to acknowledge your team’s efforts and results. Reinforce those behaviors that you want to see more frequently. Catch them doing something right … and do it often!
As long as your appreciation is sincere and meaningful, don’t worry about giving too much of it. To date, there are no studies of anyone ever feeling over-appreciated! So, shoot for a 10 or 20 to 1 ratio. The more appreciation you give, the more performance you will get.
The good news is leaders have complete control over this type of appreciation. No budget limitations or excuses here – there are literally thousands of ways to show your appreciation at little or no cost. Our goal is to be creative and outthink our competition, not outspend them.
Light up someone’s world with a little appreciation today!
Sherri Elliott-Yeary, Generational Guru is the President of Optimance Workforce Strategies, a Dallas, Texas-based consulting firm. Sherri’s passion for serving leaders enables her to deliver high impact training and tools that elevate leaders and their teams. She is a high-energy leadership advisor, author and generational expert. Sherri has built a track record of successfully managing the challenges of rapid organizational change and she possesses an in-depth understanding of business, people and organizations.
We’ve all heard the adage: “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”
The expression illustrates the very definition of resiliency. These days we hear a lot about resilience, a person’s capacity to respond to the pressure and demands of daily life. Resilient individuals exhibit tendencies like flexibility, strength, buoyancy, durability and optimism.
In the professional world, the ability to demonstrate resilience is critical. At work, resilient people are better able to deal with the demands placed upon them. And, in these economic times, many of us are finding that these demands are requiring constantly changing priorities and increasingly heavier workloads.
In a scenario that many of us are unfortunately familiar with, one of my contacts, Stella, relayed that her company had extensive layoffs. Stella survives the cutbacks but her department of 14 is now made of six professionals. The workload is distributed evenly between the survivors.
Stella, who was already pulling late nights two to three times a week, now finds herself working weekends.
“But it’s okay,” she told me. “Obviously, nobody likes working extra hours. But it’s going to be worth it. It’s going to be hard for a while, but I’ll be able to pick up some new skills and build my resume further.”
While some people like Stella seem to come by resilience naturally, research has shown that it is a trait that can also be learned. Resilience fits into our beliefs, thoughts, attitudes, emotions, perspective and immediate behavior. If these characteristics are developed in a way that can build resilience, then we stand a better chance at reacting more positively to trigger events.
It is these events that trigger psychological stress – and, if not dealt with in a resilient manner – can lead to self-destructive habits and behavior.
There are three main types of threats to well being at work: people, the organizational structure and events:
People. People – us as well as other people – is the root of almost all reactive psychological distress. We can be our own worst enemy in terms of our well-being. Are you setting yourself up for failure by expecting the worst every single day? If this is you, then you absolutely will find a reason to be unhappy. Other people, especially management, can lead to stress by the demands they place on us and the way in which they treat us.
Organizational challenges. These challenges include a workplace culture, rules and structure, growth, expansion, downsizing and lack of communication. If your office requires you to take a sick day for a routine doctor’s appointment, for example, this goes against your well-being and forces you to choose between duty and health.
Events. Psychological distress is caused when events take place within the organization that threaten our security and well-being. Examples of these may include harassment, work cliques, intimidation, boredom and more.
It’s important for people to understand the different types of incidents that can create stress, because comprehension assists with proper planning to create coping mechanisms that are appropriate for the different scenarios.
When you develop resilience, you will be equipped to cope more effectively with people, organizational challenges and events that occur within the workplace.
All Rights Reserved © Sherri Elliott-Yeary
“There is more hunger to love and appreciation in this world than there is for bread.” – Mother Teresa
William James, the father of psychology, stated that the most fundamental psychological need is to be appreciated. We all want to feel fully appreciated for our work. The payoff for inspiring leaders is that people do more for those who appreciate them. Although leaders widely recognize the need for appreciation, it tends to be a blind spot. That is, we generally believe we are much more appreciative of our team than our team thinks we are. For example, I think I am more appreciative of my husband than he may feel appreciated by me. The same can be said of most leaders and team members. The reason is that we often do not convert our invisible thoughts of appreciation into visible acts of appreciation. With all of today’s technology options, it’s easy to find ourselves too busy for face-to-face interaction, but that’s one of the best ways to charge up our teams. Showing appreciation is not a matter of time and intention; rather, it’s a matter of priority and action.
Research by former Gallup chairman, the late Donald Clifton, revealed that workgroups with at least a 3-to-1 ratio of positive to negative interactions were significantly more productive than those having less than a 3-to-1 ratio. In other words, more productive teams had at least three positive interactions for every one negative interaction. By the way, the same study showed the bar was set even higher for more successful marriages – the key ratio was 5-to-1. Showing your appreciation is certainly a positive interaction and is a simple way to boost your ratio. Consider tracking your ratio for a week to gauge how well you are appreciating your team. Look for opportunities to acknowledge your team’s results and positive progress. This is basic psychology – reinforce those behaviors that you want to see more frequently. Catch them doing something right … and do it often. If you look for your team doing something right, opportunities to reinforce them will be plentiful. The key is to be sincere and specific. In other words, don’t fall into the trap of blurting out the robotic “Good job”. Take the time to thoughtfully explain why you appreciated the specific action taken by a team member.
For example, you might say, “Susan, I really appreciate the way you quickly resolved that customer issue without adding more time or cost to our delivery schedule. That makes a big difference for the company.” Demonstrating appreciation for your team and their efforts can put them on the fast track to inspired performance. There should be plenty of opportunities since a Harris poll found that 65 percent of the workers reported receiving no recognition for good work in the past year! That’s a pretty low bar. So, we should not worry about recognizing our teams too much. In fact, there are no documented studies of any team ever feeling over-appreciated.
Here are some simple ways to make recognition a defining moment for your team:
• Say “Thank You!” – An all-too-obvious, yet highly underused, form of appreciation.
• Go old school and write a card or note to a team member expressing why you appreciate him or her.
• Allow your team to present their work to your boss. This is a great way to engage your team, and it also shows your boss what kind of leader you are.
• Offer team members a choice of projects on which to work. When team members buy into a project, they will put their hearts into it.
• Put a sincere acknowledgement in your company or department newsletter. This takes only a few minutes of your time but creates long-term “trophy value” for the employee.
• Tell an employee’s story of accomplishment at a staff meeting. Detailed stories are perceived as more interesting, meaningful, thoughtful and memorable.
• Take a team member to lunch to show your appreciation. Remember to do more listening than talking.
Find ways that are natural and comfortable for you to demonstrate your appreciation since your authenticity is the key. The good news is that we have complete control over our appreciation. No budget limitations or excuses here – there are literally thousands of ways to demonstrate our appreciation at little or no cost.
1. What is the positive to negative ration on my team?
2. What one thought of appreciation can I convert into a tangible act of appreciation today?
Collaboration vs. Collision: When do you think the last time you heard comments like these….. You’re right, but I’m the boss! Just do your job! I remember when … The kid wants a promotion after six months on the job! No! How did you react? Were you offended? Were you okay with the comment? Did you understand, or not understand, why someone would say these words?
The words and your reaction, as well as the reactions of others, reflect generational differences in the workplace. If you don’t think generation makes a difference, think of this example. When asked to recall how and where Kennedy died, the Veterans and Baby Boomers would say gunshots in Dallas, Texas; Generation X remembers a plane crash near Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.; and a Millennial might say, “Kennedy who?”
How can you effectively collaborate? • Understand the differences and learn to communicate in their language. • Develop training programs to educate your staff on the four generations. • Identify your knowledge workers and help them share their knowledge with the next generation.
Nearly 60 percent of all companies are taking measures to understand employees’ different generational needs when it comes to benefits, up five percent from last year alone. That’s according to MetLife’s 10th Annual Study of Employee Benefits Trends, released on March 19. It’s no wonder more employers are thinking generationally about employee benefits: Research by LifeCourse Associates has long shown that Millennials think very differently from older generations about planning for the long term and protecting themselves from risks—and about the role their employers should play in helping them do that. The MetLife survey reveals in new detail how recession-strapped young workers are approaching financial risks, and how they want workplace benefits to help them to navigate those risks.
One might assume older workers would be the most risk-averse when it comes to their finances. After all, they generally have more income and assets to protect than do young adults—and are more likely to have larger families (or any family at all). Turns out, it is Millennial workers who are the most risk-averse on every measure. According to MetLife, Millennials are the most worried about every kind of unforeseen financial risk, from sudden income loss (72 percent “very worried”) to uncovered medical costs (63 percent) to illness and disability (65 percent)—in each case, a remarkable 14-15 percent higher than Boomers. Millennials are even the most likely to be very worried about the financial consequences of their own premature death (54 percent vs. 39 percent of Boomers).
Millennials are also the most risk-averse when it comes to investing, once again the precise opposite of what one would expect based on age, and contrary to what investment advisors recommend for young adults. Eighty-one percent of today’s young workers prefer “guarantees that offer stable but somewhat lower returns” over “a higher degree of risk because the returns could be greater.” That’s 6 percent higher than for Gen Xers, 7 percent higher than for younger Boomers—and even 3 points higher than older Boomers, who are just a few years from retirement. Recent surveys have shown that Millennials indeed invest more conservatively than older workers.
And, as they have since childhood, Millennials are planning ahead for the long term and aiming to meet their life milestones “on time.” Young workers are by far the most worried about having enough money to buy a home and to pay off debts. This is expected, given their life stage, their high levels of student debt, and their consequent struggle to buy homes (see SI: “Why Young Adults Aren’t Buying Homes”). Yet this generation’s long-term planning goes even further. A remarkable 56 percent are “very concerned” about having enough money for their children’s college education. That’s higher than any other age bracket, including Gen Xers (52 percent) and younger Boomers (44 percent), who are far more likely actually to have children to save for.
Burdened with such strong financial concerns, seeking guidance and long-term security, to whom do Millennials turn? Enter the new “in loco parentis” employer. Young Boomers regarded long-term benefits as a relic of the old regime and seldom paid much attention to them. Young Gen Xers never met a long-term benefit they didn’t want to cash out—which, with the introduction of “total rewards” packages, they often did. Millennials are reversing this trend. They are accustomed to trusting institutions. They want employers to provide comprehensive benefits that support them, guide them, and protect them from life risks. Nearly half (49 percent) of Millennials strongly agree that they worry less about unexpected health and financial issues because of workplace benefits, compared to just 36 percent of Gen Xers, 35 percent of younger Boomers and 32 percent of older Boomers.
It should therefore be no surprise that benefits are a powerful tool for recruiting and retaining young employees. Millennials are the most likely to sign onto a company because of the benefits. Fifty-six percent agree that the benefits offered were an important reason why they came to work for their employer, a remarkable 25 points higher than older Boomers. And the benefits keep them there: 63 percent of Millennials say that benefits are an important reason why they have stayed with their employer, more than any other generation.
Millennials’ conception of benefits goes far beyond the usual insurance offerings. LifeCourse’s Why Generations Matter report found that it was Millennials who most valued employee support services like financial planning, tax prep assistance, and hands-on relocation assistance (61 percent of Millennials wanted this, compared to 44 percent of older Boomers). The MetLife survey similarly found that more Millennials “strongly value” education programs on individual finances and retirement planning (51 percent vs. 39 percent of Boomers). Paradoxically, all of these benefits would seem to be more attractive to older workers who have more complex taxes, broader investment portfolios, and larger families. Yet it is once more the young who most value their employers’ guidance and support.
In addition, both Millennials and Xers are more interested than Boomers in voluntary benefits that they can purchase and pay for on their own—though for very different reasons. Xers love choice, and prefer to opt in or out of benefits to fit their individual needs, rather than receiving a predetermined corporate package. Millennials highly value the corporate package, and want to add voluntary benefits on top of it. When asked about individual voluntary benefits, Millennials were the most likely to say they would be interested in actually purchasing them, from auto and home insurance to life insurance, disability insurance, and critical illness insurance.
Coming of age during the Great Recession has undoubtedly strengthened Millennials’ appetite for a benefits safety net. Two-thirds say that because of current economic conditions, they are counting more on employee benefits for help in achieving financial security (older generations agree, though by increasingly smaller shares). Yet the basic attitudinal drivers behind this appetite—risk aversion, long-term planning, and high institutional trust—have been with this generation for years. In a 2005 survey by Diversified Investment Advisors, 49 percent of Millennials said retirement benefits were a very important factor in their job choices, and 70 percent of those who were eligible were contributing to their 401(k) plan. A 2006 survey by the National Association of Collegiate Employers found that one of Millennials’ top criteria when choosing an employer was “good benefits package / stability (provides secure future).”
Since Millennials began entering the workforce, employers have routinely missed their focus on benefits, assuming that, like young Xers and Boomers, Millennials prefer high pay, flexibility, or prestige. On a 2007 Michigan State University survey, young adults ranked “job security” and “good benefits” as two of the most important characteristics they look for in a job. Yet when corporate recruiters were given the same survey, they mistakenly supposed that young adults would rate job security and benefits far lower, while overestimating characteristics like pay and prestige.
Today, as the MetLife survey shows, employers are increasingly taking note of the generational differences that shape employees’ approach to benefits. An overall rise in Millennial-friendly benefits is likely not far behind.
An immense challenge lies before the nation’s health care sector: diversifying its workforce. A 2012 study by executive search firm Witt/Kieffer, “Diversity as a Business Builder in Healthcare,” found that diversity is lacking in health care leadership. This is unfortunate because industry leaders surveyed in the study believe diversity in the workplace improves patient satisfaction and clinical outcomes. This impact on the customer likely has similar effects in other industries.
A key tenet of excellent health care — like any service-oriented industry that meets a customer’s needs — is the caregiver’s ability to understand patients’ needs. This includes their diverse cultural needs — since, as the study noted, minorities account for 98 percent of the population growth in the nation’s largest metropolitan areas during the last decade.
It’s all part of knowing who you serve. Where does a patient, or customer, come from? How about their culture, values and sensitivities? Are these just as important to how we meet their needs?
Knowing all this begins with hiring — and promoting — employees whose cultural backgrounds represent the patients the organization serves. This takes a commitment both internally with employees and externally in the communities served. Companies seeking to do this should take the following 10 steps:
1. Embrace diversity: This seems basic, but it’s critical and worth noting first. A diverse workforce is a true competitive advantage. Promoting a culture that values employees for unique skills, experiences and perspectives distinguishes an organization as all-inclusive, relevant and truly understanding of what customers want and need. In essence, it is a treasure trove of customer and business intelligence.
Internally, the more leaders understand and respect their employees’ differences, the easier it will be to make seemingly difficult conversations more comfortable. This is critical when serving a religiously, culturally or otherwise diverse customer base.
2. Create a visual of your team: Keep ethnicity and gender data on hand so that hiring managers can create a visual picture of the individuals on each team. When numbers and percentages fail, this mental image of who is on the team can help senior leadership see where diverse populations are underrepresented or underutilized and especially compare them to the customer population. Of course, this comes with the need to reassure the team that only the most qualified candidates should be hired.
3. Build a hit list of superstars: Ask existing staff to refer potential recruits, since great employees usually associate with one another or can easily spot a top performer. Not hiring immediately? Collect and build a list of superstars to hire in the future. Keep in touch with them in the meantime.
4. Network with diverse organizations: Develop relationships with ethnically diverse professional associations and organizations, as well as local community boards and civic associations. Attend their conferences, speak at their functions and reciprocate by inviting them to company open houses and job fairs. Also, connect with vendors and suppliers who share a value for diversity and alert them to job openings for which they may have a candidate.
5. Set diversity expectations with recruiters: When using outside recruiters, ask for a diverse set of candidates and examples of high-caliber recruits they have recently placed. If they cannot easily rattle off a litany of names, then find another recruiter.
6. Invite staff into the inner circle: Create an environment of inclusion where all staff members feel valued, embrace the company’s mission, feel part of its vision and are fully tuned in with the organization’s business strategy. Help them understand just how important diversity is to serving customers best and that every individual is a big part of that. It’s easy to lose top performers because they feel detached, especially in large organizations.
7. Let your employees shine: Acknowledge — and celebrate — your staff’s accomplishments and set them up for success. This small step goes a long way in engaging employees and encouraging them to go the extra mile. Give opportunities for employees to demonstrate excellence. Assign them projects that suit their skills, recognize their achievement and celebrate it in a public way — either inside or outside your organization. In this recognition, make a point to celebrate them as a diverse individual, not just their work.
8. Mentor and shadow: The best learning happens in the field, so develop a mentoring and shadowing program that pairs hiring managers with employees of different cultural or ethnic backgrounds or genders. This creates a trusted, educational environment where employees can feel safe about asking questions regarding different backgrounds, and also lets them see different cultural styles at work.
9. Achieve employees’ dreams: Encourage leaders to know the career desires of the staff who report to them. This puts them in the position to always know when a promotional opportunity might be the best fit and help further their career goals. It also gives the opportunity to challenge employees with new assignments that broaden their skills and expose them to different chances for success.
10. Over-communicate: Relationships matter, and they are only built with repeated communication. This could mean deliberately initiating a conversation with an employee, listening to what they say, providing feedback and calling their attention to your follow through. Or, it can mean brief acknowledgements of their work, which add up and make a difference over time. On the other end of the spectrum, it should take the form of an internal communications plan that, from an HR perspective, tells employees what positions are open, how to apply, updates from HR, etc.
A key to all these steps is relationships — inside and out — with those already hired and targeted to join your team. No matter the industry — be it health care or another — businesses can use focused attention on recruitment of minorities as a way to build culture, morale and the strength of the entire business.
All Rights Reserved 2012 – Sherri Elliott-Yeary
“Whatever your discipline, become a student of excellence in all things. Take every opportunity to observe people who manifest the qualities of mastery. These models of excellence will inspire you and guide you toward the fulfillment of your highest potential.” –Michael Gelb and Tony Buzan
“If I accept you as you are, I will make you worse; however if I treat you as though you are what you are capable of becoming, I help you become that.” –Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among my people the greatest asset I possess, and the way to develop the best in a person is by appreciation and encouragement. I believe in giving people incentive to work. So I am anxious to praise but loath to find fault. I am hearty in my approbation and lavish in my praise.” –Charles Schwab
Here comes another collision in the generation wars, the fight about whether post-boomers are selfish, moneygrubbing fame seekers – the “Me” Generation – or confident, group-oriented volunteers – the “We” Generation.
In research published this month in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, I found that, over the last 40 years, young people have become increasingly focused on money and fame while caring less about politics, their communities or the environment. My research based its conclusions on analyses of surveys taken by 9 million high school seniors and college freshmen.
At Clark University, Jeffrey Jensen Arnett studies “emerging adults,” those aged about 18 to 25. He doesn’t think change comes neatly packaged in generations, but said youth trends over the last 20 years have mainly been positive. Volunteerism and graduation rates are up, he said, while crime, drug use, and teen pregnancy are down. Today’s young people are tolerant of differences in ethnicity, sexual orientation, and religion, he said. If anything, he said, this is a “generous generation.”
My survey questions were about what students did, rather than what they thought, and it supported my view of how each generation chooses what is important to them.
According to the surveys I received, the proportion of students who said it was very important to be wealthy increased from 45 percent for baby boomers to 70 percent for Gen Xers and 75 percent for Millennials. The percentage who thought it was important to keep up with politics fell from 50 percent for boomers to 39 percent for Gen Xers and 35 percent for Millennials.
The biggest drop was in whether youths felt the need to develop a meaningful philosophy of life. Seventy-three percent of boomers thought that was important, compared with 45 percent of Millennials, but Millennials still thought it more important than money.