Having a robust job candidate pipeline and an effective hiring process is essential to your business. And after you hire, retention of your best employees is just as important, and often overlooked.
Consider that it can take months to fully train new employees on your policies, processes, and job requirements, and then more time to bring them up to the performance level of your top current employees. It pays to keep these employees engaged and happy so you can minimize turover.
Retention is a continual process, but one aspect of it requires immediate and strong action—keeping a top-performer who is about to leave. Here are the three signals that best predict that an employee is ready to quit, and advice for identifying and responding to them before it’s too late:
1. Complaining to peers
In hourly jobs, unhappy workers almost always vent to peers about working conditions, schedules, customers, and even the product or service you deliver. In extreme cases, they badmouth managers and influence others to agree with their convictions. This condition is toxic to morale, affecting employees, leadership, and customer service.
Solution: Managers need to check in frequently with their reports to address complaints that could lead to a valuable employee’s resignation. Talk to employees individually about their level of job satisfaction, including their feelings about their direct supervisors, and make sure they understand that they have a safe haven to vent complaints.
2. Decline in productivity
Once an employee has decided they are more likely to leave than stay, their work output usually tails off. It may not even be deliberate; the stress of contemplating what to do next can lead to mental exhaustion, disengagement, and loss of motivation. Of course, this is made worse by the circumstances that led to the employee’s dissatisfaction, especially if the issues involve interpersonal conflict with either peers or supervisors.
Solution: During this period, employees become increasingly invested in the job search. It’s important to keep an eye out for a decline in productivity and talk with your employee candidly, but without being confrontational. Express your interest in keeping the employee engaged and ask what you can do to improve his or her work experience.
3. Taking more time off, but not for vacation
This one should come as no surprise. When an employee’s discontent is reaching the point where he or she is actively job hunting, frequent sick days and claims of sudden emergencies, doctors’ appointments, and funerals will all be dead giveaways. If your employees have medical insurance through your company, the doctors’ visits may be real. Your employee may be taking care of unfinished business before starting on new insurance, but this can still indicates a looming resignation.
Solution: Your chances of retaining an employee at this stage are slim, and would likely require a substantial raise and concessions to the employee’s sources of dissatisfaction. Don’t let it get to this point; recognize and respond to the first two signals before it’s too late.
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