If employee retention is an issue in your workplace then chances are you are spending time and money conducting exit interviews. Okay…I suppose exit interviews are important, IF they are done right. The challenge is that often employees don’t open up about the real reasons they are leaving your company, for fear of retribution or for a number of other reasons. The bigger issue, of course, is that exit interviews are akin to closing the barn door after the horse has left the barn. What any successful company needs to do is to build the kind of inspiring culture that turns long term employees into truly loyal employees (there’s a world of difference between the two) and nurture the kind of workplace culture that doesn’t just keep your top talent, but that keeps top performers happy and inspired.
Of course every company will lose employee for reasons beyond their control: Employees will leave for economically greener pastures or for a great career opportunity or because their spouse got transferred to another city. What inspiring companies need to do is make sure they aren’t losing employees for the wrong reasons by ensuring that otherwise happy and inspired employees aren’t jumping ship because they feel unappreciated or stifled by the bureaucracy or as though their immediate supervisor micromanages them.
Which is why every company should be holding regular “What Will Keep You Here?” interviews where you have real, honest conversations about what’s working and what’s not working and about what might tempt an employee to jump aboard your competitor’s ship. You need to identify those things that you can control that will help keep your employees inspired right where they are.
You need to have open conversations about the kind of culture they want to work in, because employees are seeking out inspiring cultures like never before. And you need to talk about some of the motivational triggers that research tells us are far more important than money, such as:
A sense of purpose and meaning in their work. The stronger an employee feels they have a compelling reason to come into work every day that goes beyond a paycheck, the more likely they are to stay with your company.
A sense of making real progress. Top performers will get easily bored and restless if they feel they aren’t making progress in their career, with their learning and development, or with their goals. They’ll get frustrated if they sense your company isn’t making any progress. Other employees may get frustrated because they are working in a vacuum where they aren’t getting any relevant, constructive feedback on their progress.
A sense of pride in their work. You need to have conversations about what makes employees feel proud in their work. A sense of pride is one of the most important intrinsic motivators there is, which means your company needs to build a culture that values genuine praise, recognition, and appreciation.
A sense of being genuinely cared for by their manager. According to a worldwide Towers Watson study, the biggest driver of employee engagement is whether or not workers feel their managers are genuinely interested in their well-being. Today, only 40% of workers believe that! Ouch.
Start having those conversations now, before the barn door swings wide open. Not only will your entire company benefit from “What Will Keep You Here?” interviews, you may just find that your exit interviews have become obsolete!
Michael Kerr is a Hall of Fame international business speaker. He is the author of Inspiring Workplaces – Creating the Kind of Workplace Where Everyone Wants to Work and The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses Are Laughing all the Way to the Bank.
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