If you knew that 33 percent of your workforce would be quitting in the next two years, would you change your approach to retention? Or would you merely say, "Good riddance," as former top GE exec Jack Welch did at the end of each year?
Whether you deem it fortunate or unfortunate, that's what many organizations can expect to happen to their workforce by 2006, according to The Discovery Group, a Sharon, Mass.-based management consulting firm that specializes in assessing employee opinions. Based on 10 years' worth of studies that polled more than 50,000 employees in 60 companies, the findings substantiate what many training and human resource professionals have long thought: When the job market turns around, job hoppers will abound.
Unfortunately, says Bruce Katcher, those most likely to leave are the superior, not the mediocre or poor performers. "Senior managers must take proactive measures now to make sure they retain the top talent in their organizations," stresses Katcher, an industrial/organizational psychologist and president of The Discovery Group. He offers five tips of proactive measures to take now:
Tell your best employees that you value their contributions. All employees thirst for positive recognition. Let your best employees know that they are appreciated. A periodic pat on the back and words such as "nice job" and "well done" are more powerful than recognition plaques on the wall, special parking spots or a mention in the company newsletter.
Provide advancement opportunities to strong performers. Your best employees want to move up in the organization. If no spot exists, make one. Continuously monitor who deserves promotions and who, given the right opportunity, would increase their contributions to the organization.
Start a top-performer support and development group. Create a special group of your elite performers. These can be managers as well as solid individual contributors. Provide special training and development for these top performers. Also, arrange for them to receive frequent briefings about the company's plans and progress. An invitation to join this type of group is a clear statement of positive recognition for superior employees. It can also strengthen their bonds to the organization by improving the cohesiveness and personal relationships of top performers.
Develop a series of succession plans. Some organizations create succession plans for the top few positions in their organizations, but few create similar plans for departments, office locations or plants. Wouldn't top performers be more likely to stay with the organization if they knew they were next in line for a promotion?
Move top performers out of dead-end jobs. Be certain that your best employees are placed in a position to be as productive as possible. Move these employees into positions where they can do the most for the organization and where advancement is most likely.