In our last blog we discussed three office epidemics that lead to poor employee retention rates: Bad managers, boring work, and office politics. Now that we know our enemy, it’s time to find ways to solve these issues and make sure our top performers stay in the building.

 1.  Be An Empathetic Leader

We touched on this statistic in our previous blog: 50% of employees left their job “to get away from their manager to improve their overall life at some point in their career.”  To avoid being the manager who runs off your workforce, it’s important to develop a behavior pattern of positivity, belief, reliability, honesty, and above all, empathy.

The DDI report “High-Resolution Leadership” showed empathy was the biggest driver of overall performance within an organization. The study, which surveyed 15,000 participants, also indicated empathy as a critical indicator of effectiveness in a leader’s ability to make decisions, coach, engage, plan, and organize.

A leader and manger must be able to build honest relationships with team members and understand their perspective and struggles within the office and beyond.

Unfortunately, empathy isn’t a skill that is learned just by reading a blog or sitting through a training class. It takes training, time, and conscious effort to develop if it doesn’t come naturally.

2.  Connect and Grow

To highlight another key statistic from our previous entry, Gallup research showed employees who are ‘engaged and thriving’ are 59% less likely to look for a job with a different organization in the next 12 months.

No matter how altruistic an employee (or the company mission statement) is, it is no surprise that employees miss how mundane work is deeply connected to the company mission. And as a manager it can be hard to spice up the everyday.

So, what can you do? Grow your people and connect them to the mission.

Without clear understanding of an organization’s mission it is difficult for anyone to see how their repetitive or boring work is serving a bigger purpose.  People inherently desire serving a larger purpose than themselves. If this were not true, employee engagement wouldn’t matter.

Spend time with your people helping them connect to your company’s big vision or mission. Tell the stories that help the number cruncher or back office operator connect to the deeper purpose of their work. And this make take formal training which brings us to the next point.

recent study by Udemy discovered 46% of employees cite limited opportunities to learn new skills as the top reason why they are bored in their current role and seeking a change. Providing learning opportunities and encouraging employees to develop new skills erases that “dead-end job” feeling and unlocks potential you may not see otherwise.

There is, of course, the risk of losing that employee to an opportunity elsewhere after a new skill set is formed, but if done right, the benefits will outweigh the risks.  Your operation will benefit from increased engagement and productivity.

Investing in a person’s development inherently says, “I care” and “you matter,” this deepens a person’s appreciation and loyalty. 

3.  Accept Office Politics People’s Personalities, Change Your Culture

Certain employees get along better than others and many individuals have personal agendas. That’s life. But that doesn’t have to determine the culture in your office or team.  There’s an old saying that “you get more of what you reward.” And while this isn’t an activity in policing your office to create a politics-free environment, it IS an activity of deliberately creating culture.

Set out the vision you have for your team or organization.  What do you want to be known by?  Gossip?  Or integrity and strong character?  As you identify your standards communicate, communicate, communicate!  You cannot over-communicate this.

Identify and groom champions.  Identify those who have the most influence and speak with them about being active champions of the team’s values. Build relationships with these “informal leaders” (while being careful to avoid preferential treatment) and give them room to create new ways of living out your team values as they take ownership of the vision. These champions will win more of their peers over than just a communications campaign and will hold greater worth in their role.

Following these steps will certainly help your organization retain valuable team members, but no operation is immune to turnover. In our next blog, we’ll walk you through what to do when an employee turns in their two-week’s notice.