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Curb Your Employees' Enthusiasm To Leave

What would you do if you woke up tomorrow morning, walked into work, and half of the employees weren’t there? The desks were empty, the halls were quiet, and you find yourself panicking when you come to the realization that half the workforce has resigned.

What would you do if you woke up tomorrow morning, walked into work, and half of the employees weren’t there? The desks were empty, the halls were quiet, and you find yourself panicking when you come to the realization that half the workforce has resigned.

As crazy as this may sound, it’s entirely possible.

The Star Tribune recently reported that 84% of employees plan to leave their jobs in 2011. That’s a horrific game of musical chairs that will cost American employers billions of dollars in recruiting and training new employees.

Why are they leaving? Because they are unhappy.

While employers were busy riding out the worst economic storm in 70 years, many went into survival mode. Senior management engrossed themselves in budget talks, tightened controls, micromanaged, and cut costs to make sure companies could stay afloat.

Unfortunately, management neglected to care for the people who were helping the company stay afloat. Talent management took a backseat and employees started to feel frustrated, disappointed, unmotivated, and neglected.

Many workers have gone without salary increases for three years and are now doing the job of two or more people. Moreover, they see and hear less from senior leadership about their vision for the future.

Generations X and Y are the most unhappy. We knew that was the case even before the economy took a nosedive. The average amount of time employees under the age of 35 spend on a job is 20 months.

Generational differences aside, losing 84% of any employee base anywhere is way too much turnover.  Perhaps there’s still time to change your employees’ minds. If your organization wants to try to curb its employees’ enthusiasm to leave, here are a few tips:

Don’t underestimate anyone’s potential. Employers need to be concerned about discontent throughout their ranks, not just among management. Discontented workers spend a certain amount of work time seeking out new opportunities and bad-mouthing the company which hinders productivity (at best) and sabotages the company (at worst).

Take action. Solicit employee feedback in a variety of ways including employee surveys, exit interviews, and small and large group meetings, and take appropriate action in response to the feedback.

Be fair. Now more than ever, employees question whether senior leadership has their best interests at heart. To keep employees engaged and committed, eliminate nonessential work, pay workers fairly, and give them the resources to do their jobs.

Share your vision. Clearly and honestly communicate the vision of the organization, its priorities, values, challenges, and how employees’ work fits into the larger picture.

Have fun. Studies show there is a definite correlation between happiness and productivity on the job. A lack of positive relationships is also the number one reason young professionals leave a job. All joking aside, if you aren’t having fun at work your company will struggle to survive.

Sarah Sladek

Concerned about declining engagement in our nation’s membership associations, non-profits, and workplaces, Sarah Sladek founded XYZ University, the nation’s first and only generations-focused training and engagement strategy company, in 2002.

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