culture employee engagement

Leadership Challenges: Retention

This month I’m tackling the topic of leadership challenges. Leaders face challenges at every turn. Beyond the external challenges like increased competition, changing best practices, and new markets, leaders also face pressures inside the company  – everything from retaining your best employees to ensuring your entire senior leadership team models the values of your company. Over the next few weeks, I’ll give you tools, tips, and strategies for overcoming the biggest leadership challenges you are likely to face inside your organization. As a leader, each day you face a never-ending to-do list, so the thought of adding more to your list probably feels overwhelming. I can relate! Each of these posts will be brief and tactical – and get you leading in increasingly effective ways right away.

Let’s start with the number one issue most CEOs I interact with are facing: retention. We love our engaged and actively engaged employees, and we want to keep them! But how?

Job openings have hit a record high as the number of employees telling their manager, “I quit!” skyrockets. We’ve officially entered Job-aggedon, where the confluence of a tight labor market and confidence that a better job awaits employees has left many managers struggling without their top performers. In July 2018 alone, during the tightest labor market, we’ve seen in almost two decades, over 3.5 million people handed in their letter of resignation. This is a double punch to employers. At the same time, we feel increasingly desperate to find new workers, our existing staff is more willing to jump ship. 

With 6.9 million unfilled jobs in America, employees are far less likely to stick it out under old-school, top-down leadership models characterized by hierarchy, threats about their job security, and punitive tactics enforcing accountability. Every company – every leader – in America needs a retention strategy to maintain their valuable staff. Do you have one? It’s time to completely rethink the meaning of leadership if we want to not only survive Job-aggedon, but thrive past it into a new era.

A good retention strategy never starts with money — it isn’t the key reason people quit. Employees are most likely to quit because of a toxic or unchallenging environment. When leaders lack the relational skills necessary to lead an engaged team, they don’t create the kind of environment that employees want to stick around for. Sure, leaders can use higher pay to anchor staff, but the real retention battlefield is won through creating the conditions where employees actually look forward to coming to work.

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