Why You Can’t Seem To Keep Great People: A Letter to Employers, Small Business Owners, and Entrepreneurs – PART I

Are you a small business owner or entrepreneur who feels you are constantly struggling to keep great people on your team? You’re not alone. No matter employers' efforts, excellent employees can sometimes seem hard to come by and even harder to retain. Understanding why this is the case may be the key to long-term success in workflows and managing talent pools—something worth considering as an employer. In this two-part series, I aim to examine the motives behind the reasons why employees choose not to stay, as well as provide suggestions for business owners and entrepreneurs on how they can make significant changes when onboarding new hires.

Expose the Issue – Uncover why your top-tier employees are leaving before they reach their full potential

Is your organization having difficulty keeping top-notch personnel around for the long haul? Are you stumped as to why they're leaving too soon in droves? If so, it's time to consider why good people suddenly feel their best efforts won't make a difference in your organization. It could be that the culture doesn't suit them, or there is far too little incentive for them to stay—or it may be something else entirely.

In my experience working with employers of all sizes, I have found that employees often leave because their expectations and needs aren't being met. They may feel that the organization is unresponsive to their requests, or perhaps they don't think they will be rewarded or recognized for their hard work.

It could even be something as simple as a lack of trust—if employees don't believe that the employer has their best interests in mind, it's hard for them to stay motivated and committed. It is important to remember that employees are the lifeblood of any organization and should be treated with respect. Companies that fail to invest in their people, both financially and emotionally, will be hard-pressed to find truly dedicated employees. Investment in staff is necessary for any company looking for long-term success.

1. Conduct Employee Surveys

Regularly surveying your employees can provide a valuable way to get feedback on their experience with the company and its people. Ask questions about what could be improved, their ideal work-life balance, and how much recognition they receive for their efforts.

Using employee survey data can help you understand what needs to be done to keep them motivated and prevent them from leaving. Do not take this lightly. Invest your time and resources into ensuring that employees have their voices heard.

2. Research Industry Trends

Look into competitor businesses and industry trends. Finding out what other employers are doing differently or offering more of could be a potential solution for your company. This can help you stay competitive in the job market and make employees feel appreciated.

Consider expanding your research further and looking into the job market in general. What benefits are other employers offering, such as flex-time, childcare allowances, or company-sponsored events? Knowing what you have to offer compared to what potential employees may be looking for is key. If you understand their motivations, it will become easier for you to capitalize on them and create an attractive package.

3. Review Employee Exit Interviews

Reviewing their exit interviews is a great way to uncover why exceptional employees leave your business. Look at their feedback and see if any patterns or common themes indicate what could motivate them to leave. This can provide valuable insight into supporting them better and ensuring they feel appreciated and valued. After all, this should only be considered a last resort since you want to retain your employees.

Regardless of what you discover, it’s important to remember that all businesses are unique and have their own staffing needs. Recognizing this need is key to finding solutions to the issue of employee retention and maintaining a productive workplace. In the end, by understanding why your top-tier employees are leaving and what you can do differently—you could be one step closer to success.

Let us begin by exploring the potential causes of why many talented individuals opt to leave.

Examining Factors – Analyze why people leave your company, including lack of recognition, career opportunities, and poor culture.

As company leaders, we must analyze our company's environment for factors that could be causing employees to leave. These can include a lack of recognition, limited career opportunities, a company culture that does not nurture and motivate our people, or insufficient training and resources to help them succeed. To retain highly competent people over the long term and foster a positive external reputation, we must honestly assess these factors and address them promptly.

1. Is your company culture toxic?

A toxic work environment can lead to an exodus of great employees, as they may feel unappreciated or undervalued. Take the time to review employee feedback and get a better sense of how your organization is perceived from the inside out. As the leader, you must also be honest about what could be improved and how to create a healthier work culture. Set the example. It starts with you.

Here's how a toxic environment can manifest itself

  • Unfair treatment of employees – Employees may feel undervalued if they are not recognized or treated fairly.
  • Lack of structure – When policies and procedures are vague or convoluted, it can be difficult to understand what is expected of you – leading to confusion and frustration.
  • Poor communication – If employees do not know what is expected and lack access to the right resources and tools, performance can suffer.
  • Limited career opportunities – When employees have few growth opportunities, their motivation decreases, and they may see the benefit of looking for a job elsewhere.
  • A hostile workplace – when workers experience bullying or negative associations with their colleagues can destroy morale.
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2. Are you providing enough career development opportunities?

The days of the traditional, linear career path are gone. To attract and retain great employees, it is essential to provide them with training and development opportunities to help them grow professionally and personally. Provide ample chances for employees to take on new organizational roles or get certified.

Providing the right training can help your employees become more productive and efficient. Create an environment where they have the necessary skills to succeed in their jobs and develop their professional abilities.

Great employees want to feel challenged and have opportunities to develop their skills. Providing them with these is essential to keep your best people around long-term. Expand learning potential by providing development programs, leadership training, and other skill-enhancing resources. Invite team members to attend educational workshops or conferences for growth opportunities and reward those who show outstanding performance—because sometimes the best rewards transcend a salary package or bonus.

3. Are you recognizing achievements?

Recognizing accomplishments is often overlooked but is essential for keeping high-performing employees engaged. Acknowledge their successes and provide clear incentives to keep them motivated. This could mean financial rewards, promotions, or simple verbal appreciation. A thank you goes a long way, but don't stop there!

The key is to develop a system that rewards employees for their hard work and efforts. Ensure you offer recognition promptly so people know exactly what they’re working towards.

Ensuring that recognition isn’t based on individual performance is also important. Encourage collaboration and create an environment that celebrates teamwork.

Your employees are vital to your success. Prove they can rely on you by investing in their future and offering your undivided support.

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Recap

1. Ensure that the company culture is healthy and conducive to growth.

2. Provide development and training opportunities for employees.

3. Recognize and reward employee achievements promptly.

4. Offer financial rewards and promotions as incentives.

5. Show appreciation through verbal recognition or thank yous.

6. Develop a system of recognition that isn't based on individual performance.

7. Encourage collaboration and teamwork among employees.

8. Invest in their future by offering support and guidance.

9. Offer access to the right resources, tools, and education workshops or conferences for growth opportunities.

10. Reward those who show outstanding performance with something more than just a salary package or bonus.

Conclusion

These are the key factors to consider if you want to understand why you can't seem to keep great people. By addressing these issues and taking the steps outlined above, your organization can start to create a culture that attracts and retains top talent. To gain further insight into how to cultivate an environment of open communication and collaboration in the workplace and recognize the significance of equality and inclusion, be sure to read part two of this series.

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