Apr 12, 201702:00 PMOpen Mic
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Why your best talent is leaving and 4 ways to win them back
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Most leaders of companies today recognize the importance of having engaged people at work. Yet research from Gallup and others say that between 50% and 80% are not fully engaged. For many organizations, a majority of employees are only partially engaged, which a lot of research has shown reduces performance and customer satisfaction while increasing turnover. Worse yet, your best talent — those with lots of options — are most likely to leave.
An interesting phenomenon occurs in most organizations. On day one, most employees are fully engaged as these fresh hires are excited to begin a new experience. And yet, engagement levels drop considerably during the first few years, and often far more than you would expect after a honeymoon period. Clearly something is going on, and most organizations need these four key actions to minimize this degradation of engagement and reboot it to formerly high levels.
1. Change work-life balance to work-life integration.
A major contributor to reduced engagement levels is the stress often caused by work-home conflict. Today, work and home are not separated by an impermeable boundary. A large majority of workers today respond to texts or email at night or on the weekend, or work feverishly during “off” hours to finish a report or presentation. However, many are frightened to address personal issues that come up during their workday. This pressure detracts from their engagement because it feels one-sided.
One thing that must be recognized in our interconnected lives is that good or bad issues traverse all spheres of our lives — work, family, friends, hobbies, and health. One HR professional in a financial services company said, “I got so caught up in my job that I constantly felt guilty about neglecting my family,” and another reported, “I was constantly torn between being successful at work and being successful with my kids.”
This constant tension leads to debilitating stress and burnout, which can be avoided by updating policies and educating leaders on how to help employees integrate different sectors of their lives. For example, smart firms focus on results and not time, and review workloads frequently to ensure that people — especially the high performers — are not becoming overloaded to the point of burnout.
2. Help employees build resilience.
Developing resilience to setbacks or grit to push through barriers is increasingly important in a multitasking and rapidly changing world. As we cope with a relentless increase in demands to remain competitive, it is more important than ever to develop these compensatory strengths.
Roughly 95% of people interviewed in a recent Metrus Institute study had major setbacks at some point during their lives and many intermediate ones yearly, but very few had the coping mechanisms to quickly recover and get re-tracked in their lives. Over time many discovered techniques to accelerate the process of recovery. For example, those who had mentors and a deeper network of good friendships — not simply Facebook friends — were able to weather storms better.
Another technique that companies can use is a “pull the switch” option, which is an employee-friendly and open way for someone to say “enough” and that they need support. This was an approach which was employed quite successfully in high performance safety environments for years — why keep the line or individual going when they are becoming less and less effective? It does not mean they are not good employees, but rather that they need support in the form of guidance, resources, information, or skills to continue moving forward.