The fight about the lid not getting closed on the toothpaste is not really about the lid. This is an odd place to start talking about employee retention, but it will make sense. Stick with me.
What It’s Really About
The fight is really about the lack of respect, caring, love, support or not being heard. The lid is the symptom, and the emotion that flows beneath it leads to the root of the problem. Employee retention is the same.
The lack of engagement and high turnover rates that are so costly for companies is the symptom of a bigger problem, but unfortunately, the root of the issue isn’t being addressed. If the real problem isn’t addressed, it doesn’t matter how great your retention plan is, it’s not going to work and you’re throwing money away.
Where To Start
When we think about people who are passionate about their calling or causes — entrepreneurs and volunteers are great examples — we see them work long hours for little or no pay. They do it because they care about it so much. It’s a bigger part of who they are, and that’s what many companies miss.
Employees get to live out at least part of their purpose through the companies they work for, but if they can’t see how they’re doing that with their job, they won’t have the same level of engagement as they would otherwise. That means they will be much more likely to look for it elsewhere.
So, rather than pumping money into employee retention plans, what if companies instead started by developing a compelling vision that gets their employees to lean in when it’s communicated to them, and then defined the values to guide that vision?
Those two things give people a reason to get excited about the company they work for, and with the values being at the forefront of all that’s done in the business, employees would also have a clear and very simple guide for how to behave and what it means to do the right thing in the company. When people know they’re doing the right thing, and everyone else around them is doing the same, they will all feel more confident and content. Which means they’ll be much more likely to stay. I have realized this through my business journey with my company, Kardia.
Taking It to The Next Level
If companies then put money into developing programs to help their employees define and understand their own personal values and how those values align with the work they do, retention would be higher because each person could clearly see how and why the company they work for aligns with them personally, and also helps them meet their bigger vision for their life.
On top of that, they would be better able to measure their own personal and professional progress toward their goals. And in that case, why would they want to leave?
Retention issue solved!
Then, anything else you add to an employee retention plan is icing on the cake, making it even sweeter to stick around.
Wrapping It Up
Employee retention plans will work a lot better when they start in the right place. So, before you allocate more budget to yours, ask yourself, do your people understand the bigger vision for the company? Is that vision compelling? Does everyone on your team live and breathe your values? If you answer “no” to any of these, start there. Then develop your retention plan after.