One indicator that the Great Recession is truly behind us is that it's clearly now a “seller's market” in terms of the employer/employee relationship at most job interviews. That's one of the key reasons why most companies are now paying much closer attention to retaining seasoned employees than may have been the case a few short years ago.
But to avoid being in that situation in the first place, a growing number of senior managers are increasingly looking for early indicators that they're in jeopardy of losing key personnel before it's too late.
Key Warning Signs of Approaching Voluntary Turnover
When a veteran, trained, high performing employee lets you go – that often comes as shock. However, it usually indicates a deeper issue than just one person's decision, and it rarely comes out of nowhere.
The reason it's surprising, though, is that you were probably not looking in the right place - if you were looking at all. But looking where? Well, some of the most important places include:
Communication missing – most tenured employees who decide to leave do so for reasons other than money or benefits. Their reasons tend to revolve around advancement, team dynamics, training, and job satisfaction issues. Typically, you don't know this until they're telling it to you at their exit interview. If you do not have clear and regular channels of communication with valued employees, you're in danger of losing them.
Job development/advancement absence – one of the best ways to open communication with your employees is to have meaningful, well-defined and structured mechanisms in place for internal job creation and advancement. When these are available to your existing employees – before looking outside the company – you have created a built-in communication vehicle that will always work to strengthen employee commitment. Develop procedures for interviewing and training your current personnel to fill job openings.
Detachment of managers – ask your managers what concrete, clearly defined methods of interaction and feedback they've set up with the staff in their departments. If all they can say is - “I have an open door policy” - then you've got a problem. You cannot sit back and wait for employees to come to their managers with concerns – your managers must be constantly, and systematically, reaching out. Establish clear employee/manager lines of communication.
Lacking genuine receptiveness – having a line of communication means nothing if it's simply a formality. You must work with managers to ensure they are truly open to employee feedback and concerns. Have managers create action plans for responding to feedback. Instill a “take the initiative” attitude in your sales management training programs.
Failure to take responsibility – if you are blind-sided with an employee voluntarily leaving, admit that you missed the warning signs and commit to discovering what they were. Ask yourself how you could've prevented this – what you did wrong, and could do better. Don't simply fall back on blaming the employee. Take this opportunity to develop employee engagement ideas to ensure it doesn't happen again.
Internalize this mindset for approaching employee retention, and you will most likely have far fewer surprise exit interviews.