Addressing retention issues with management and motivation

Solving your employee retention problems may not be as expensive or difficult as you think. Research shows that most workers really don’t leave for money. The truth is that some managers like to hear it’s the money, because that shifts the blame away from themselves and onto other parts of the organization.

Even if workers cite money as their reason during exit interviews, that’s often just an excuse, as many employees want to preserve their positive references and see little chance that telling the whole truth will bring about any changes. Delayed exit interviews and comparisons between an exiting employee’s current and offered salaries point to other reasons for turnover.

In reality, managers control the vast majority of reasons people leave their jobs. Therefore, understanding these reasons and making a conscious effort to provide what employees need can go a long way to solving your retention issues. Here are the top ways managers can work to retain their best performers.

The six big motivators

Maintaining an engaged, dedicated workforce is crucial to the success of your business. So, understanding what motivates most employees is a great place to begin, especially if you’re having retention issues. Start with these 6 top motivators:

  1. Regular communication: Honest, frequent two-way communication between workers and managers, including constructive discussion of workplace issues.
  2. Challenging and exciting work: Ensure every employee has a challenge plan and is periodically asked to rate the degree of job excitement.
  3. Opportunities for growth and learning. Ensure managers are rewarded for developing their employees and that employees are held accountable for following through on their individual learning plans.
  4. Recognition and rewards for performance: Be clear about what’s expected and ways to earn recognition.
  5. Autonomy: Avoid micromanaging and foster your employee’s sense of control over their own job.
  6. The big picture: Provide employees with periodic reports on the impact their projects have on the business, so they know their work makes a difference.

If you try to tackle all of these motivation tactics at the same time, you’ll likely feel overwhelmed. However, making open, honest communication a priority can help you hone in on which of these areas is most crucial to each of your employees, and you can start there.

A seventh factor

Although salary alone is often not the main reason workers leave, it is part of whether or not an employee feels recognized and valued. Additionally, many managers actually can influence how well an employee is compensated, and taking compensation out of managers’ hands weakens their ability to retain talent.

By telling employees up-front that managers have control over compensation, you force mangers to discuss pay on a one-on-one basis with their workers. After managers overcome the “my hands are tied” compensation hurdle — or excuse — individual communication on the other motivation and retention issues is much easier.

Getting your managers to own retention

Even when employees seem fairly compensated, poor management often causes them to look for other jobs, and only then do they realize they could get more money and better treatment if they leave. One solution to this type of turnover is relatively simple — start by telling employees what they should expect from their managers, and help managers improve their delivery of the six motivators above.

If you find you have retention issues, HR needs to give managers the tools necessary to make their employees’ current jobs better than the competition. Start a manager driven retention effort by following these steps:

  • Step 1: Tell your managers that the motivating factors and employee satisfaction are their responsibility. Hold them accountable and publicize their retention successes and failures within your organization.
  • Step 2: Develop a periodic measurement system to see if managers are delivering on the motivation factors and tie a portion of their compensation to that and to a low turnover rate among top performers.
  • Step 3: Develop tools that allow managers to easily assess employee satisfaction and delivery of the motivation factors.
  • Step 4: Educate your workers to expect the motivation factors — no exceptions, no excuses.

Owning retention and making efforts to improve management practices can go a long way to increasing employee satisfaction and productivity.

The retention and recruitment connection

Of course, your goal isn’t just to retain all of your employees, but to retain quality employees. And that starts with recruiting top performers. Whether you need to hire better workers or recruit more effective managers, Monster can help. Sign up for Monster Hiring Solutions to receive expert recruiting advice and the latest hiring trends.