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16% of your workforce are actively seeking a new job — what can you do?

March 17, 2020
If you only do one thing in 2020: Ask better questions to improve your one-to-ones!
Sounds extreme, but it’s not uncommon

Team engagement is critical for team performance and employee retention and today's managers need to be equipped to improve employee engagement.


HR Grapevine have shared some of the more amusing anecdotes of office hell, stolen sandwiches and ‘Fighty Dave’, but sometimes it’s a little more serious. A friend recently told me she was so fed up with her colleagues she handed in her notice without any other prospect of employment, she’d gotten to the point where the risk was worth it.

Why? As you’re probably very aware, people spend eight hours a day five days a week with their team, they’re a huge part of your life. The best leaders create teams that become like a family, they know each other inside out, go on days out and enjoy each other’s company, but other teams become a bit like … a family… constantly arguing and can’t wait until the day’s over so they can get away, or even worse, they decide to leave for good.

Obviously poor team alignment isn’t the only reason people leave jobs. Employee attrition analysis is hardly a new science, and there are several metrics that HR managers often turn to. Measurements such as the number of sick days taken, lateness, average employee tenure change over time and cohort analysis can give managers a solid picture of what’s going on in the present. The problem is that they rarely offer predictive insight, so there’s not much that can be done in the way of prevention.

16% of you workforce are actively seeking a new job

According to a survey by Dale Carnegie Training 29% of workers plan to look for a new job within the next year, and 16% are currently looking for a new job, do you know who those people are within your business? Is there anything you can do to keep them? Does it even matter if they leave?

In short yes, it matters to your bottom line. We all know that it’s more expensive to acquire a new customer than to keep one. The same is true for employees. Up to $27 billion is being wasted in the US economy alone because people are not hiring candidates with a proper understanding of whether they will succeed in their organisation, yes, $27 billion!

How did we get to this number? Consider the facts put forward by PWC.

Each person who leaves costs the organisation 1 to 1.2 times their salary. This includes:

  • Leaver costs: severance packages & HR’s time to finalise pay & benefits.
  • Replacement costs: the time and money it takes to identify, interview, hire and train a candidate plus advertising and recruitment agency costs.
  • Productivity costs: time other staff spend picking up the slack plus the valuable expertise and potential revenue the departing employee is taking with them.
  • Reputational costs: recruiting has become social. Public reviews are widely available on sites like Glassdoor therefore companies need to be aware of their employer brand.

On the flip side, the positive impact of hiring a good hire is great. A study by McKinsey & Co showed that “hiring and retaining below average or average performers have real opportunity costs because top performers can increase productivity, revenue and profit by between 40% and 67% over average performers.”

How to lower attrition

Understand why people leave

Can you imagine buying machinery that was faulty or technology that had a bug and no one bothering to understand why? When it comes to people this happens on an industrial scale.

Some of the reasons people leave are out of the employer’s control, such as location and to some extent salary, but how well people get along is something that companies can assess, predict and improve.

Hiring

Job fit and personality are commonly assessed during hiring. Personality is also important when understanding how well someone will perform in a particular role, for example, if someone is naturally shy or introverted it may take more energy to be in a role when they need to be on the phone all day pitching to clients.

But what happens if people are leaving not because of the role or their skills, but because they have a problem with their colleagues or manager. How, as someone who sits outside of the team, can you control that?

Team fit is one of the greatest predictors of whether someone is likely to leave. Relationship with supervisor, work group cohesion, participation in decision making, co-worker satisfaction all rank highly on issues that have been correlated with attrition.

Saberr’s research indicates that shared values and a tolerance for each other’s values is correlated with attrition. Having shared values or tolerance for each other values enables team members to build trust more easily. This is particularly important in teams where high degrees of collaboration are required.

Where personality can predict 5–10% of performance values alignment has predicted 20–30%. This suggests measuring fit with team members is even more important than profiling personalities, something that much more common the the recruitment process at present.

HBR estimates that up to 80% of attrition is caused by poor hiring so adding one small step into the process to assess team fit is a no brainer when it comes to huge savings further down the line.

Leadership Development

70% of the variance in employee engagement is directly attributed to managers, so it's absolutely essential to invest in an effective leadership development programme. Leaders that build trust with their teams and set clear expectations have better team outcomes. Google's project oxygen found that being a good coach was the top rated factor that made a good manager, so educating managers on how to coach will give them the skills they need to take the first step in improving employee engagement. This is particularly important for new managers who need to learn how to engage their team and set goals and translate the company purpose into something that's meaningful to their team. Providing technology like CoachBot can help keep them on track and encourage good habits as they build their management skill set.

Our advice is to take team fit into account in your hiring process, and focus on maintaining high levels of employee engagement throughout the workforce by empowering your managers to become leaders in order to keep attrition low and a productive, happy workforce.