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Why good employees leave (and how you can keep them)

Sharon Florentine | Oct. 31, 2013
If you're losing good workers and you're not sure why, the problem may lie with your firm's management style. The good news is that you can make small changes that will make a huge difference when it comes to employee retention.

 Why Good Employees Leave (And How You Can Keep Them)

It's tough when good employees leave: Productivity sinks, morale suffers and colleagues struggle with an increased workload until you find a replacement. On top of that, recruitment and search costs, training and on-boarding new hires can make for a difficult and expensive transition.

The best solution, of course, is keep your workers happy so they don't want to leave. But before you can implement a plan to increase employee retention, you need to determine why valuable employees are leaving.

"Most people don't quit their jobs, they quit their managers," says Wendy Duarte, vice president of recruiting at recruiting, hiring, and consulting firm Mondo.

While that insight might be hard to swallow, understanding that your organization's management philosophy could be part of the problem is the first step to improving retention, she says.

Are You the Problem?

"When you lose your top talent, the first place to look is at management," Duarte says. "Managing teams as a whole is hard. You have to manage to each individual, and invest time into discovering what each member of a team needs both at work and outside of work to do their job to the best of their ability," she says.

One of the key things -- if you're really listening to employees -- is to find out if they are getting the resources to add to and change their roles, to take on more and different responsibilities, to spearhead new projects, to experiment. -- Wendy Duarte, Mondo.

Do your employees feel that they're all "in this together"? Do they feel their suggestions, concerns and challenges are acknowledged and, when possible, acted upon? Do they feel valued? Are they being listened to, or just heard?

While it may sound inconsequential, Duarte says, simply listening to employees' concerns and doing what you can to address those -- or at least explaining why they can't be addressed at the present time -- can go a long way toward keeping the best and brightest, she says.

Having a strong set of corporate values, a mission statement and specific goals (for the company, departments, teams and individuals) can help direct employees' energy and help them see how their individual contributions are part of a greater whole, says Rona Borre, CEO and founder of hiring, recruiting and consulting firm Instant Technology.

"That gives them a stake in the company, a way to measure success. But they also need to feel valued as part of that bigger whole," Borre says.

Helping employees feel valued isn't difficult, says Borre, but it may involve investing a bit more time to listen, gather feedback and then incorporate that feedback into company policies and mission statements, she says. In addition, it could require a bit more capital to make sure that compensation is tracking with national averages and offering perks that match or exceed those available at similar firms, she says.


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