When a team member leaves, especially a top performer, it feels a lot like getting dumped. It hurts, it’s often unexpected, and it leaves many managers questioning themselves: What did I do wrong? What could I have done differently? What more could I have offered?
The truth is that it takes more than free coffee and ono office snacks to get your employees to stay put. First and foremost, if you don’t pay a competitive rate you’re at a major disadvantage. In fact, paying employees less can actually cost you more.
Beyond that, here are five ways you could be unknowingly driving away your best employees.
1. You fail to create meaningful goals for your employees
Employees want more out of their jobs than just a paycheck. They also want meaningful work. In fact, employees who say their jobs are “highly meaningful” are 69 percent less likely to quit in the next six months. Work with your employees to create meaningful goals that allow them to see how their work impacts the company’s big picture. Ask them what areas they’re particularly proud of or interested in and incorporate those into the goal setting process.
2. You don’t check in with your employees consistently or frequently enough
While you don’t want to be a micromanager, you shouldn’t wait too long before checking in with your employees. That means more than once a year at an annual performance review. Ongoing, frequent check-ins show employees that you’re invested in their work and reassures them that they’re on the right track (and if not, gives you an opportunity to adjust). It also allows you to be privy to any warning signs that they might be looking to quit. Aim to check in with your employees at least once a week, whether it’s a one-on-one standing meeting or 10 minutes out of your day to informally catch up.
3. You don’t offer opportunities for professional growth
Nine out of ten employees say they would stay longer at a company if it invested in their career. Sure, not all companies have an expansive corporate ladder or the ability to offer traditional advancement opportunities like promotions, but there are other ways to invest in the professional development of your team. You can empower them to take on projects outside their normal scope of work, send them to training or upskilling classes, or have them attend work-related workshops and conferences.
4. You have no idea who your employees are
You may know your assistant Jane is a recent college grad and a Microsoft Excel wizard, but what else do you know about her? Knowing your employees beyond their roles at work can have real payoffs for retention. Maybe Jane is also a single mom who could really benefit from a flexible work schedule. Or maybe your other employee Jack does graphic design as a hobby and would love to put his skills to use on an upcoming project. This doesn’t mean you need to (or should) know every detail of your employees’ personal lives, but it could be the difference between keeping them or losing them to another company.
5. You’re holding on to too many bad apples
If just one bad apple can spoil the barrel, imagine what several bad apples can do to your team. If your best employees are picking up the slack for their lazy colleagues, getting rewarded the same as underperforming teammates, or working alongside toxic employees, they’ll likely head for the exit door. Great employees know their worth and employers need to realize the cost of their problematic employees before it’s too late.
In a labor market rich with opportunities, holding on to your best employees has never been more important. Employees have options when it comes to finding work and managers need to be sure they aren’t inadvertently causing their best employees to leave.