Late December and the months of January and February are the traditional season for many employee resignations. Obviously, that’s after the workers have received their year-end bonuses. What would you advise management on how to minimize, if not eliminate the resignation of fast-trackers and other workers with hot skills? — Frantically Wary.
Let me start by telling you of an old story about Albert Einstein. It was reported that Einstein’s secretary once asked him to explain in simple terms his theory of relativity. He replied: “Two hours with a beautiful woman seems like two minutes, while two minutes on a hot stove seems like two hours!”
Like the theory of relativity, I must say it all depends on your particular situation. If you’ve done a good deal of engaging your workers at least in the past year, then you have a better chance of retaining them for another year. Otherwise, if you’re cramming now and in the next few months to stem the exodus of workers you want to retain, then it is probably too late for you to do just that.
Engagement and retention are perpetual, long-term processes that can’t be done during December when everyone is busy helping their respective organizations fulfill customers’ expectations. The situation can be different in January and February when your best and brightest people are busy looking for better employment conditions elsewhere by filing emergency leaves with familiar reasons like LBM, also known as “looking for better management.”
Better check your human resources records to discover where you can pinpoint problems, filtering out legitimate exceptions that arise out of individual situations from time to time.
In many cases, however, the perceived crisis of mass resignation could be more imagined than real. In many cases, it could be triggered by the toxic management style of some managers, rather than the pay and perks being offered by your company. Therefore, it boils down to the work relationship between managers and their workers. If there’s an excellent relationship between the two, expect a low attrition rate, even if the workers are receiving average salary packages based on industry standards.
Whatever the reason, you need to proactively read and manage employee issues all year-round. After all, motivating people is like taking a bath. Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar was right when he said: “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing. That’s why we recommend it daily.”
Therefore, to minimize resignations starting this month and the corresponding months of every year thereafter, you may have to consider the following approaches:
One, treat all workers, regardless of their rank, with dignity and respect. No matter how trivial the issues raised by employees, you have to respond by clarifying matters and resolving them with the help of line supervisors and managers. Even if you don’t agree with their complaints, you have to bend a little bit to accommodate them as if they’re coming from customers and stockholders.
For you to do this, you must be aggressive enough in seeking out employee concerns about their specific goals.
Two, feel out the emotional and satisfaction levels of everyone on a regular basis. You can do this through an annual or biennial anonymous online survey so that you can cover as many workers as possible. The other approach is eyeball-to-eyeball department meetings between line executives and their workers. This type of meeting should help keep the people informed on what’s going on and encouraging them to ask questions.
This could be supplemented to a certain extent with a one-on-one discussion between employees and supervisors.
Three, ask specific questions that could only be answered by each worker. Remember that not all people have the same career ambitions, work situations and aspirations. However you can always use the following questions to explore the interests of each worker: How can I help you achieve your ambition in this organization? How can I make your job easy? What are your challenges on the job? What kind of resources or assistance do you need from me?
Just the same, don’t exaggerate. Don’t give people any false hopes or promises you can’t fulfill. It’s also important for you to admit your limitations, if necessary.
Four, empower and engage people as much as possible. Give them more responsibility. Hard workers could become victims of boredom, especially if their jobs are relatively routine and their tasks are repetitive in nature. To change this, allow them to study and develop several ways to improve their work processes, subject to certain limitations. Let the people do their own thing. One option is for you to relax your supervisory oversight.
This includes allowing your best workers to enjoy their freedom to use their best judgment in determining when they take breaks or vacation time.
Last, praise all workers and their extraordinary accomplishments. Do this in public. Everyone likes to be recognized when they excel. It’s important to let people know what examples of commendable acts you like. Go beyond lip service. If promotions or pay hikes are impossible within your department, seek to repay your employees by doing everything to make them feel comfortable with you and the organization.
If necessary, seek out promotion options in other departments for your excellent workers. You may lose them in the short term, but it can go a long way towards retaining them for the good of the company.
In conclusion, given all of these prescriptions, you must also remember that at times, resignations can bring in much-needed change via the infusion of new blood into the company. Therefore, as long as your turnover rate is limited to less than 7% per annum, then there’s nothing to worry about.
ELBONOMICS: You can’t start a new life if you keep on looking at your past life.