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Are Your Best Employees About to Walk? 3 Steps to Help You Keep Them

Retaining good employees is critical for any CEO, especially as the business world experiences a global talent shortage in the next two decades. The World Economic Forum (WEF) predicts that by 2030, the U. S. will need to add 25 million more workers to sustain economic growth; by 2020, demand for highly skilled workers will exceed supply.

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Every CEO should have a clearly defined talent attraction and retention strategy with evidence of success. Why do your best employees stay and why do they leave? There are three primary reasons why employees are inclined to stay: (1) work relationships; (2) values and culture compatibility, and (3) exit costs. Here’s how you can maximize all three.

1. Work relationships. Employees typically spend more time with their coworkers than they do their families, so it is important for them to have quality relationships at work. Yet, work relationships are often ignored and misunderstood in organizations. Good relationships can lead to increased teamwork, positive morale and enhanced productivity. Research also shows that strong social capital leads to increased knowledge transfer and an easier transition if an employee leaves.

2. Values compatibility (company vs. individual). Values should be defined and declared by the company, as well by as individual leaders. Employees want to know their values are aligned with those of their leader and organization at large; they want to know their voice matters. Company culture should be measured annually, and should encourage employees to speak up with ideas and criticism.

“CEO should have strong knowledge of generational value differences and tailor development to the individual.”

3. Exit costs. These are the implicit costs typically considered during an employee’s exit evaluation. For example, employees consider their career potential, tenure, learning and growth opportunities, and the relationships they have with their manager and colleagues. Therefore, superior talent management strategies should include these retention components.

Most organizations today employ three generations of workers, meaning a one-size-fits-all retention strategy is unlikely to succeed. As CEO, you must have strong knowledge of generational value differences and tailor development to the individual.

Building a strategic employee retention plan
A robust and rigorous talent retention strategy begins with:

  1. targeted retention strategies
  2. leadership preparedness, and
  3. a high-opportunity experience for all employees

First, CEOs should have accurate demographic data and align retention strategies (i.e. talent development, career assessment, job mobility) to match each generation’s value system.

Next, at a business group level, leaders must develop their managers’ ability to know what makes their employees tick. For example, CEOs should advise managers on how to involve employees in decision-making processes. This creates an environment where employees feel their values are aligned and their voice has merit.

Lastly, on an individual level, employees must see and experience valuable work experiences: a high-opportunity workplace that beats the competition. For example, employees do not quit because of pay; they typically quit because they determine that pay is not fair compared to others in the same job and organizational level. It’s about perceptions of fairness. Employees must feel that the rewards they receive are fair compared to their contributions.

Effective talent retention is not easy. Being the best requires a global perspective, organizational and individual perspective, constant monitoring, and upgrades that result in having the best retention strategy among your competition.



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