“We can’t find any new employees!” “Younger employees sure don’t stay in one job for very long.” Our consulting team hears statements like these a lot. The struggle to find and retain qualified employees is partly a result of low unemployment and economic growth. It is also an outcome of parents providing more financial coverage for their adult kids than in past generations. And shockingly, 71% of today’s young people do not even qualify for military service! No wonder you can’t find any qualified younger employees! But, some of this issue can also be pinned on leaders and employers. We need to have realistic expectations – it is unlikely that most employees under age 40 will make a lifetime career in the business, church or nonprofit that you lead. We often say that if you can retain a capable team member for five years, you are doing well. Here are seven actions that each of us can take to help create a higher retention environment among our teams.
1. Share a lunch with them.
Nice and simple, and pretty cheap. A $10 lunch not only provides a good burrito at Chipotle, it also creates an opportunity for conversation about his interests, goals, feelings about the company, and just overall life.
2. Thank them.
Much cheaper than the $10 burrito. Thanking a team member for her contribution shows that you are watching and that you appreciate her. While some people have an insatiable appetite for affirmation, we as humans appreciate a genuine and well earned “thank you.”
3. Surprise them.
Who doesn’t like a pleasant surprise? A breakfast sandwich. A smoothie on a hot day. How about a round of corn hole at lunch? Routine can have a deadening effect on the spirit, but a well-timed surprise can renew life by infusing energy and joy.
4. Include them.
Take a team member or two to a special meeting or on a business trip. Ask him for his input on a project or idea. Give her say on how to improve the organization. When team members are included, they have a far greater sense of ownership and responsibility.
5. Challenge them.
Some people are attracted to organizations and leaders that push them harder in order to make them better. This can include giving them challenging assignments – the type where there is no guarantee they will succeed. This demonstrates that you have confidence in them and believe they are capable of more.
6. Reward them.
Remember Clarke Griswold from Christmas Vacation? He was expecting a big bonus and got Jelly of the Month Club instead! Rewards are not the answer to every retention issue, but they are a means of affirmation. Short-term tokens like gift cards, intermediate rewards like bonuses, and longer-term changes like pay increases show you are paying attention to them and their contribution.
7. Pray for them.
Behind every person is some source of hardship or suffering. Finances. Marriage. Depression. Illness. Loneliness. Sometimes we may know a little or even a lot about people’s lives. Other times, we may know almost nothing. But you can be assured that everyone has something going on. And there are very few people who would not appreciate that you are praying for them.
Contact us to learn how our consultants can help you create a strategy to increase employee retention in your organization!
Jay Desko is the Executive Director of The Center Consulting Group and serves on the Senior Leadership Team at Calvary Church in Souderton, PA. Jay brings experience in the areas of organizational assessment, leadership coaching, decision-making, and strategic questioning. Jay’s degrees include an M.Ed. in Instructional Systems Design from Pennsylvania State University and a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Leadership from The Union Institute.