Employee Retention; a Significant Concern for Leaders Today

As we begin our four part series on Employee Retention and Employee Engagement, we begin by laying the foundation for a great strategy-forward. According to the April 2013 results of the survey conducted by Robert Half, the world's first and largest specialized staffing firm, 2,100 CFOs from a stratified random sample of companies in more than 20 of the largest U.S. markets reported (38%) that their top concern for FY2013-14 is to retain top performers and talent as valuable employees to the organization. 27% of respondents said their top focus will be maintaining employee productivity. 13% stated improving staff morale and engagement is important. Another 13% of respondents said recruiting top performers is important. While only a small 9% of respondents were unsure.

Senior Executive Director Paul McDonald at Robert Half spoke about the importance of organizational leaders to take the results of the survey and use them as a tool to improve in the areas that will allow their organization to reap the benefits in the long-term. He listed what he believed to be the top five behaviors a leader can act upon to ensure top talent remains in place:

  1. Maintain an open-door policy.
  2. Promote from within.
  3. Provide competitive compensation.
  4. Recognize outstanding work.
  5. Offer professional development opportunities.

Although five are suggested, the key to achieve these five remains critical to leaders and organizations ensuring professional development opportunities be designed to not only expand upon the people skills of talented employees, but to also increase organizational proficiencies (organizational behavior), productivity (strategic execution), and collaboration (leadership for teams). When these are achieved, organizations gain an incredible opportunity to ensure adaptability to the other four becomes rooted at the heart of the organization's culture.

Leaders must be aware that leadership, strategy, teamwork and execution is NOT about having all of the answers, but strategically executing by asking the absolute RIGHT questions! Offering professional development opportunities is pointless unless top performers are poised to learn, and then lead the sponsoring organization to “Better their Best” while teaching other leaders to do the same.

Here are a few questions and issues leaders must also consider: 1) what happens after professional development is offered to and received by top performing employees? The hope is that these employees will bring their newly acquired skills back to the organization for immediate integration to ensure teams remain cognizant about delivering the adaptable skill-sets learned to improve the organization's Future Picture. 2) what should the 38% of CFOs polled in the survey do to ensure their investment in their people is protected to result an overall improvement or acceptable ROI to other leaders in the system? Clearly, no one has a crystal ball, and nothing an employer can do will guarantee top performers remain in place. But, these leaders can do four easy things to ensure their investments are protected:

  1. They can make sure their FEET are on solid ground, pointing North Star and in the right direction!
  2. They can make sure their teams are skilled at solving problems/challenges using TIME as a strategic tool for “Different Options” that will impact the Future Picture!
  3. They can make sure their behaviors/actions speak louder than their voice to build confidence for everyone to understand what it takes to WiN in Fast Time: think strategically, focus sharply and move quickly!
  4. They can make sure their leaders use the adaptive behavioral skills to develop new HABITS and CREATE a culture of effective change regardless of environmental or marketplace circumstances!

Leaders will never have all of the answers and they're getting smarter over time at running their organizations. Most, if not more, are risk adverse in bringing anything new that has not been seen, but some are willing to engage radical change for radical results. FEET, TIME, WiN in Fast Time, and developing new HABITS to CREATE cultures of effective change introduce radical change for radical results; simply because they offer a military-style approach to inspire real change that matters and that sticks:

  • Leaders know the position of their FEET when: They Focus Effective Execution that is Targeted/Timely.
  • Leaders understand TIME as a strategic tool for Execution when: They Target-Identify-Minimize-Execute Flawlessly.
  • Leaders know how to WiN in Fast Time when: They think strategically, focus sharply and move quickly.
  • Leaders follow the Cardinal Rules to CREATE cultures of effective change when: They Clarify values, Reinforce vision, Empower behaviors to change HABITS, Align conversations up, down and across (throughout) organizations, Target effort on high impact areas and they Emphasize success to reward change that sticks!

Effectively communicating these four traits and values on each level of an organizational structure, leaders will not only retain top performers, they'll develop a culture that develops improved teams and performers to ultimately have more top performers. Also, with these four traits placed at the forefront in a leader's mind, professional development moves from an out-sourced initiative to a mainstay set of behaviors throughout the organization that achieves professional mastery in each discipline.

When organizations are able to think strategically, focus sharply and move quickly as one unit or team, CFOs are able to focus more on running the business versus improving retention rates of their top talent and performers. This objective will become one that only requires limited supervision from the CFO versus a hands-on approach, allowing them to spend more of their valuable time in other good growth areas for the organization.

We'll see you in part-two in the series titled, "Employee Retention: STOP Top Performers from Bailing Ship!"

To Learn More About the Survey: The national study was developed by Robert Half. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on more than 2,100 telephone interviews with CFOs from a random sample of U.S. companies with 20 or more employees in more than 20 of the largest U.S. markets. For the study to be statistically representative and ensure companies from all segments are included, the sample was stratified by number of employees. The results were then weighted to reflect the proper proportion of employees within each market. To review the study, please visit Robert Half News Release online at http://bit.ly/14WUUIQ.

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