Employees LeaveThe impact felt when an employee leaves an organization is exacerbated when labor markets are tight, and leaders at all levels need to be cognizant of their messaging when a valued asset announces their departure.

Leaders are always being watched, and how they react when someone leaves impacts how everyone else within the organization reacts as well. 

“If they are transparent, honest, and don’t act like the sky is falling, they acknowledge the loss, but pivot quickly into fill that gap, employees will take that cue, and things will go on without a glitch,” said Marissa Levin, co-founder of Successful Culture International, and a culture and leadership expert.

Think workers today don’t have the same loyalty to employers that previous generations did? That's correct.

“Younger generations definitely have less tolerance for being unhappy,” said Levin. “They are just not going to stay in a job if it’s not fulfilling a purpose that they believe in.”

So what can equipment manufacturers do to ensure they attract and retain employees, both now and in the future? Levin offers five key strategies:

Pay Attention to Exit Interviews

When people leave an organization, it’s critical to find out why.  According to the 2018 Retention Report from the Work Institute the top three reasons employees leave are:

  1. Career Development – No opportunity to grow in a preferred job and career.
  2. Work-Life Balance – Better work-life balance, which includes more favorable schedules, shorter commute times and scheduling flexibility.
  3. Manager Behavior – Unprofessional or unsupportive managers. Exit interviews can be a useful tool in identifying the reasons why employees are leaving, provided they ask the right questions.

“The goal of the exit interview should be to find out where the company did well or fell short on communication or meeting expectations,” said Levin.  

While exit interviews can be a useful informational tool, they are about more than collecting data. Organizations need to analyze and share the information, as well as follow up with appropriate action.

Levin cautions that exiting employees might not be comfortable providing answers. “If you haven’t already developed a culture of trust, when an employee leaves, they are not all of sudden going to divulge everything to you,” she said.

Examine Your Mission, Values and Vision

“Problems such as high attrition, low trust, low morale, and low engagement are all a result of a compromised culture,” said Levin.  

Organizations that start to move away from their mission, vision, and values... well... they struggle.  She recommends that businesses re-engineer their hiring processes to ensure that new hires have the technical competence and are culturally aligned with the company’s core values before they begin.

“Interviewing is the key piece to ensure that you have strong retention of great people,” said Levin.  

Be Process-Centric, Not Hero-Centric

The more a company's processes are documented and employees are trained on those processes, the less risk there is to the organization when a key person leaves. Employees can then easily step in, take over, and fill the gap accordingly.

“When a company revolves around a handful of heroes, it can be demoralizing for the people who are not one of those heroes,” said Levin. 

Check in with Employees at All Levels

It’s important to know what’s happening throughout all levels of the company.

“If you’re only talking with other C-level executives, you can be blinded,” said Levin.  

Every organization should view itself as a puzzle, she continued. 

“When one puzzle piece is missing, the puzzle is still incomplete,” added Levin. “Everybody matters and everyone sees the company from their own perspective.”

Lose the Hierarchy 

Levin said she believes that the idea of coming in and paying your dues before you speak up is an antiquated view.  

“From the day they start on the job you should give employees an opportunity to be valuable,” said Levin. “Creating cultures of mentorship rather than a strict hierarchy is really important.”

Time for Change

The employee-in-control marketplace has arrived. Simply stated, the vast majority of companies are going to have to change to prevent costly employee turnover. And once an organization identifies root causes for employee turnover, then the next steps call for defining core values and employing strategies that will result in a happier, more engaged workforce. 

This article's contents were adapted from a CONEXPO-CON/AGG Tech Talk, part of the show’s 75,000-square foot Tech Experience featuring future-looking innovations that shape manufacturing. For more information, visit https://www.conexpoconagg.com/

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