Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em
Getting good people to stay—from A to Z
For the first time in decades, words like retention, turnover, and talent loss are commanding attention—and lots of it—in the workplace.
With unemployment hovering at 30-year lows and a labor shortage that’s expected to span the next decade, executives and managers concerned with profitability—and even survival—are beginning to view their talented workers through a very different lens.
The era of expendable workers is over. And age-old refrains like “be glad you have a job,” “quit whining,” and “if you don’t like it, go somewhere else” won’t fly—though not every manager has gotten the message. Workers today want and need to feel cared about, especially by their managers, and they’ll walk if they don’t get it.
What’s the Cost of Loss?
Countless research studies suggest that the cost of replacing key people runs between 70 percent and 200 percent of their annual salary. Hard costs can include advertising, search firms, interviewing and relocation expenses, and sign-on bonuses. And the softer, harder-to-measure costs can include time spent on interviewing, orienting, and training (and the work put on hold to do it), lost customers (due to their loyalty to the former employees), and declining morale and productivity on the part of remaining coworkers.
So They Go
So what? Can’t you just replace them? Well, even if you can afford to do it, will you be able to find the right people?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects there will be 151 million jobs by the year 2006, with only 141 million people employed (and many of them working two jobs). Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan recently said there are simply not enough people to feed the economic machine and declared that the limiting factor to our continued economic growth is people.
The message is clear. Talented people are scarce and will continue to be scarce. If you’ve got some on your team, you had better do your best to keep them.
Beyond Pay—Four Reasons They Stay
Yes, money matters. If fair compensation is missing in your company, talented people are apt to leave. But, opposed to what many managers believe, money is not the key to retention. In fact, a recent survey of one-half million employees from over 300 companies showed that out of 50 retention factors, pay was the least important. The factors that really satisfy employees are the ones that keep them on your team. Those factors, which haven’t changed much over the past 25 years, are meaningful and challenging work, a chance to learn and grow, the sense of being part of a team, and good bosses.
The Buck Stops Where? Research shows that 89 percent of managers believe employee retention is largely about the money. These managers put the responsibility for keeping good people squarely in the hands of senior management and blame organizational policies or pay scales for the loss of their talent.
Well, the truth is, managers matter most. At any level, from senior managers to frontline supervisors to project leads, bosses actually have more power than anyone else to keep their best employees. Why? Because the factors that drive employee satisfaction and commitment are largely within their control.
Managers can influence their employees’ decisions to stay or to leave. They can partner with their best people to find them meaningful work, growth opportunities, and the chance to be part of a team. And they absolutely can become better bosses.
Simple as A to Z
Sounds easy. But if it were, managers would know how critical their roles are and would already be doing what it takes to retain talent. So, what do they need? Some need a wake-up call, others need some how-tos. Some managers are natural retention experts. Others need help. They need skill building, reminders, and tune-ups. They need to become conscious of the critical role they play in retaining talented employees. And they need to be held accountable for building a retention culture on their teams and in their departments.
The Bottom Line
In Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em: Getting Good People to Stay (Berrett-Koehler, October 1999), we offer 26 practical, hands-on strategies—literally, from A to Z— to help managers at all levels keep their talent.
It has never been more critical for managers to care—and we mean really care—about their employees. To hold on to their stars, they must identify and leverage their own strengths and pinpoint and improve upon the areas in which they need improvement.
- Ask: What Keeps You?
- Buck: It Stops Here
- Careers: Support Growth
- Dignity: Show Respect
- Enrich: Energize the Job
- Family: Get Friendly
- Goals: Expand Options
- Hire: Fit Is It
- Information: Share It
- Jerk: Don’t Be One
- Kicks: Get Some
- Link: Create Connections
- Mentor: Be One
- Numbers: Run Them
- Opportunities: Mine Them
- Passion: Encourage It
- Question: Reconsider the Rules
- Reward: Provide Recognition
- Space: Give It
- Truth: Tell It
- Understand: Listen Deeper
- Values: Define and Align
- Wellness: Sustain It
- X-ers: Handle with Care
- Yield: Power Down
- Zenith: Go for It
Order Love 'EM or Lose 'EM: Getting Good People to Stay
About the Authors
For more information about Beverly Kaye, Sharon Jordan-Evans, and Love 'Em or Lose 'Em: Getting Good People to Stay, visit the Love 'Em or Lose 'Em web site at http://www.keepem.com.
(c)1999 Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans. All rights reserved.