Here’s a cautionary tale to get you thinking about employee engagement and retention – whether you are the one who is thinking about leaving or the one trying to encourage someone to stay.
A friend of our family has been working in a company for about 18 months. This is her first job out of college. She’s a real go-getter and was recognized frequently for her excellent work. Her performance appraisal showed evidence of above average work – especially for someone new to the business world.
However, she was getting antsy. She wanted to learn more and she wanted to learn it faster. She has a vision for herself and she was feeling stuck in the current role. Fortunately for her, she heard about an opportunity with another company. She interviewed and got the job. When she told her manager, she said, “Is there anything we can do to get you to stay?”
And her situation is not unlike many in the U.S. labor market today. According to the Modern Survey’s Fall 2014 U.S. Workforce Study of Employee Engagement
Study, “28% of all employees across the country are currently looking for work at another organization. Six months ago, that number was 25% and 18 months ago it was 23%.”
Here are three ideas that our friend and her manager each could have used to avoid the situation:
- Ask for time with your manager to talk about career goals and aspirations. Talk about internal and external growth and development opportunities.
- Look for opportunities inside your organization and ask the manager for an “informational interview” to learn more. That way you can see if you really would be a good fit for this role.
- Keep networking with others outside the organization because sometimes better opportunities do come along.
- Schedule regular one-on-one meetings with the employee to talk about her career goals and aspirations. Talk about internal and external growth and development opportunities. Really listen for what is being said “between the lines”. What gets this person satisfied, energized & productive (my definition of employee engagement)?
- Once you understand the goals and aspirations, find opportunities for the employee to participate in meetings, calls or events outside your department to continue to challenge her skills. Find a mentor from another spot in the organization to act as another set of ears and a guide along the way.
- Share your stories about how you have moved around the within the organization and the benefits you’ve seen from working there long term. Talk about your commitment to the mission and vision. Keep working to connect the dots between the employee’s goals and her work.
Yes, sometimes the move to a new company is inevitable. But many times, some work on the front end (by both parties) can avoid the pain and expense of losing a star employee or having to begin again in a new company.
Happy New Year!