All Articles Leadership Management What's that sound? Is it talent heading out the door?

What’s that sound? Is it talent heading out the door?

Quits are up among employees, and it's not a recession. That means that talent attraction and retention must be of primary importance for leaders and their businesses.

4 min read


BLS December 2015 quits and layoffs
Bureau of Labor Statistics

As the global economy continues to improve, one significant metric for business leaders is at a nine-year high.

That metric? Voluntary separations or “quits.”

The US Department of Labor announced that 3.1 million Americans left their jobs — voluntarily — in December 2015.

The monthly JOLT report (Job Openings and Labor Turnover) slices and dices the data into a variety of categories and sub-groups. The number of people quitting their jobs is now greater than in December 2007 (which had 2.8 million voluntary separations), the first month of the recession. Seasonally adjusted figures also show quits are back at pre-recession levels.

The industries with the largest number of quits over the past year include professional and business services (102,000 more voluntary separations in December 2015 than in December 2014), leisure and hospitality (75,000 more quits), accommodation and food services (68,000 more quits), and retail trade (60,000 more quits).

What does this mean to a team leader, business owner, or senior executive? It means that talent attraction and retention must be of primary importance for their businesses in 2016.

Why is talent retention so vital? You may be thinking, “I’ve got a list of employees that I wouldn’t mind if they left.” Losing less talented, less engaged employees might not have the biggest negative impact on your business.

However, losing immensely talented, deeply engaged employees will cost you time, money, production and inspiration across your business.

“Brain drain” is the common reference to the knowledge you lose when skilled employees leave your team or company. Their experience with how to get things done in your unique business environment may reside entirely in their heads! If your processes are not formalized — written down — that knowledge walks out the door with that player.

It will take time, energy, and focus to recover from the loss of that knowledge and experience. In addition, employees notice when high-performing, values-aligned players depart. They know how hard it will be to replace those players, and it’s often frustrating for those left behind. Engagement and inspiration suffers, at least for a while.

How can you retain and attract talented, engaged players on your team, department, business or company? These three keys have helped with talent retention around the globe.

First, ensure that employees are treated with trust, respect, and dignity in every interaction. Not just once in awhile, but every interaction, every day. The best way to ensure this is to make values as important as results. Craft an organizational constitution — which outlines your team’s present day purpose, values and behaviors, strategies, and goals — then align all plans, decisions and actions to it.

Second, validate employees’ efforts as well as their accomplishments. People do a lot of thing right every day at work. Yet most employees say they do not receive enough feedback about the quality of their contributions. Tiny HR’s 2014 Engagement and Culture Report found that only 21% of employees feel strongly valued at work. Take the time to thank people often.

Third, delegate authority and responsibility to talented, engaged players. They’ve earned the right. They have the skills and motivation to solve problems, in the moment. Don’t make them wait for anyone’s permission or approval before they can act. Give them the opportunity to think and act so they can best serve their customers and the company.

Don’t leave your talent retention strategy to others. Embrace it, and create a safe, inspiring, productive workplace where people thrive.

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