As an employee retention speaker and employee retention author, I hear people talking about employee retention as if it exists in a vacuum. They think that if they concentrate on the key elements that drive employee retention they will see their problems go away. To an extent, that works but usually retention issues are driven by the corporate culture and the leaders who permeate a culture. They in turn, do all the things that drive people out of organizations. The problem with fixing culture is that it is such a vague thing that many leaders can’t get their heads around it. To them it is this soft swishy concept that comes out of their HR Department.
If you really want to attack employee retention in the mind of this employee retention trainer, you have to focus on the culture first. Another problem senior leaders have is focusing on profits first. That works. For a time. But, eventually it catches up with them because a sole focus on profits is only sustainable for a period of time. Profits are the easy thing to focus on and it is the thing that Wall Street and investors reward a new CEO for. Come in and cut staff and see a 5% jump in share price that makes millions for the shareholder. A move like that certainly is not going to build a culture that supports employee retention.
If an organization takes the time to build culture and then nurture it, you will see an attraction of top talent that drives the business instead of a revolving door of turnover. You will see people who are engaged and energized and not just putting in their time. You will see happy employees who will project that happiness to their customers. The list goes on and on. But accomplishing these goals are tough. They take time. A focus on profit is easy. You can hire some hot shots from big name business schools who know the latest ways to squeeze out what they can out of an organization, take their big payout and move on to the next opportunity. This continues on in perpetuity. And while it is happening, profits drop as a culture is destroyed and talent quitting leaves a gaping hole.
We have been suckered for years that profits need to be the main focus in business. That has caused the ups and down of company profits as cultures are destroyed and rebuilt so that they can again be profitable. The key is to build the culture that is sustainable and robust. That organization will see quality, productivity, customer service, employee retention and much more as a byproduct of culture. It will also see sustained profits as a result of culture building. If you truly want great employee retention…focus on the culture!