Talent Tip #67: The Key to Employee Retention: Convoluted Algorithms or Simple Communication?
The Wall Street Journal recently featured an interesting article about predicting impending employee departures based on complicated algorithms.
It turns out some large companies such as Wal-Mart and Credit Suisse are hiring human resources analytics firms to develop intricate formulas that identify which employees might be getting antsy. These company-specific formulas involve a variety of data points, including “job tenure, geography, performance reviews, employee surveys, communication patterns and even personality tests.” The idea, of course, is that these algorithms allow the company to proactively take steps to retain its most valuable workers.
Sounds like quite the Rube Goldberg approach to employee retention, doesn’t it? I can’t help but wonder: does it have to be that complicated?
Sure, if you are Wal-Mart and employ more than a million people in this country alone, perhaps investing in a complicated algorithm makes sense. But let’s say you are a small or mid-sized nonprofit – what then?
Here’s a simple idea that’s just crazy enough to work: TALK TO YOUR EMPLOYEES.
As you can imagine, I get a lot of calls from employees who are looking to make a job move. Inevitably, I ask why they want to make a change. What’s striking is how many of these reasons could easily be addressed by an alert and caring employer.
Heck, if I had a dollar for every unhappy employee I talked off the ledge, I’d have enough money to buy a pair of Jimmy Choos. But shouldn’t employers identify and correct the situations before I get the call from the disgruntled employees?
If your organization is having problems with employee retention, here are some things to consider:
- Communicate Regularly with Employees – If you’re not already doing so, open the lines of communication with employees immediately if not sooner. And because employees are often hesitant to bring up touchy subjects, employers should put the onus on themselves to solicit answers to difficult questions: Are you happy? Do you feel challenged? Do you have positive relationships with team members and supervisors? Do you feel valued (financially and otherwise)? Are you receiving the training and support you need to be effective in your role?
- Make Performance Reviews A Two-Way Street – If your organization is already using regular performance reviews, take advantage of this opportunity to seek feedback from the employee about his/her happiness quotient – especially from your most valuable employees!
- Ask (Your Painfully Honest) Friends About Your Organization’s Reputation – Let’s face it: there are some things you just won’t be able to get employees to tell you about your organization. But if you have a direct, honest friend in the free-market arena, that person may be able to shed some light on possible reasons for turnover. Do your best to address these issues with staff sooner rather than later.
Next month we’ll address some of the most common reasons we hear about why employees want to exit stage right (pun intended). Until then, I’ll be dreaming of Jimmy Choo shoes.