Approaching the subject of why some employers keep losing staff from a recruiters perspective, you will see an irony. The irony with the recruitment industry is that we benefit from people looking to leave jobs, not stay in them. Yet the very clients who pay us our money in the first place want those candidates to stay in those jobs, not leave them.
That is only true from a recruiters perspective if you look at it from a short term viewpoint. If you want a long term client and your candidates keep leaving, guess what, that client won’t want to use you anymore. And it’s this long-term viewpoint that too many companies that recruiters work for seem to trip up on.
Hiring for the Long Term
In a previous post https://revorec.com/hiring-strategy/ I wrote about the difference between a good and bad hiring strategy. In that I talked about hiring for the long term. But in this post though it’s more about the people that you already have and why you keep losing staff.
Top 5 reasons why someone leaves a job
1: Relationship with Boss
2: Bored and Unchallenged by the Job they are doing
3: Relationship with their co-workers
4: Lack of opportunities to use their skills and abilities
5: Lack of opportunity to contribute toward business goals
The interesting point about the top 5 reasons for leaving a job is that they all tend to have taken time to get to that stage. In any social relationship it takes months to get to properly know one another. Boredom comes about after the new job honeymoon period has been and is now long gone. And it takes time to realise that there is a lack of opportunity in your place of work. These aren’t five minute things.
Advertised Culture Vs Actual Culture
Good people who are committed will want to give the job a go, but by around six months they’ll be settled in to the culture of your business. If what was sold to them in the first place bears little resemblance to the actual culture after having been there six months, they’ll be considering moving on. And if the promises about opportunities and challenges aren’t showing signs of fruition, they’ll just feel the same way.
Companies aren’t silly though and Retention Tactics will come into play. Whilst some retention tactics are good, some are simply delaying the inevitable. Good retention tactics could be promotions, training, side projects, incentives, bonuses and awards. Bad examples could be making promises of change by a set time, manipulation, offering rewards for hitting targets that cannot be honoured etc.
The real problem is that the majority of the work force in companies have managers, who on many occasions, have little or no power to offer good retention tactics. A challenge faced by most managers is that their intentions are admirable and genuine. Then a transition decision has to be made. Their careers rely on keeping their bosses happy as well as their staff. But with bosses who have little or nothing to do with their staff and who simply want better and better results it means doing what they can to get more out of their staff without the proper tools to help.
The Middle Managers Predicament
The predicament faced by middle managers in these circumstances is that they cannot offer good retention tactics. So rather than trying to be all “Sun Tzu”, they are more “Machiavelli” whether they like it or not.
Going back to the top 5 reasons for leaving, this will have dire implications regarding relationships with their staff (Number 1). Furthermore, they will likely have little or no influence to change the jobs their staff are doing which can lead to them being bored and unchallenged (Number 2). And to top it off, this will result in a lack of opportunities to use their skills and abilities and contribute to the business goals (Numbers 4 and 5).
The Rise of Politics
For a middle manager to have got to their level, they would have had to sacrifice a lot. But if by the time they find themselves in this position they realise that they have little influence or power to change anything, this presents another problem. Put yourself in the position of having worked so hard to get there. Yet you can’t make a difference. You find yourself stuck with two options. Quit and start again somewhere else or do what you need to do to make it work.
By doing this you are starting down the road of politics. We’ve all seen it. Somebody kisses their bosses behind, whilst subtly taking every opportunity to get one over on their co-worker competition. And this then feeds into reason 3 of the top 5 reasons for leaving. This will create factions and disengagement of co-workers.
The Root Problem
The root cause of all of these top 5 reasons for leaving boils down to the culture. Sure, people may move for more money, better prospects, better training etc. The problem is that by trying to solve those problems you are just trying to bandage up the wound as the damage is already done by that point.
If the culture was good you would have a much better retention program. And if the power was given to middle managers who meant well to make positive improvements, you’d solve so many problems. Companies with a good retention record tend to be those where their middle managers are given the support, backing and power to do their jobs properly. So much focus on business retention is on the workers or the company leadership, but this misses the point. The day to day responsibility for the workers is mostly from the middle management. Empower them to do their jobs properly.
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