February 1, 2016
As managers and recruiters know, the new norm for American workers sees them changing jobs far more frequently than was once customary, especially younger professionals. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in general, employees stay in their jobs for an average of five years while those in the 25-34 age group stay in the same role for an average of just three years.
Both HR and the managers they partner with share the responsibility to retain the best talent. Instead of spending company resources training junior-level staff, only to lose them in a few years to another company, consider the strategies below to keep as many of your top workers as possible.
A Gallup survey found that about 33 percent of American workers report to be engaged at work; nearly 50 percent of American workers are “not engaged”; and about 16 percent are “actively disengaged.”
Building engagement is critical to retention efforts. HR teams and managers can analyze employee engagement by first looking at their team through the eyes of their junior employees and evaluating their leadership efforts from this perspectives. It’s a helpful exercise for managers to ask themselves: Do the members of my team get the chance to interact with me directly? Is the culture in which they work fair and balanced? Does my staff get the message that their contributions matter? What do my team members’ futures look like on our team and in our organization?
If managers want their team members to stay, they should make that abundantly clear to their staff. Managers should make their staff member feel valued. Managers send that message by reminding their team members how much their efforts matter, inspiring their team, celebrating them and helping them develop professionally.
While not all managers are naturally demonstrative or articulate, HR can help managers by providing training, suggested wording and incorporating these types of discussions into performance reviews.
A great manager like a great teacher has to possess the right balance of subject matter knowledge and interpersonal skills. If managers can achieve this then they can truly set the stage for team engagement.
Forge a trajectory
Entry level staff will get restless if they feel that they don’t have a career trajectory. Finances matter since many of them have college debt hanging over their head and they need to know that they can move forward financially. But most junior employees also want to grow professionally. And younger workers in particular need a clear path to show them that they are progressing in their careers.
Young employees appreciate having the opportunity to discuss their career ambitions with their managers. They want feedback and a sense of direction. Managers can support them in this by being open and honest with their staff members about their work–what they do well and what they can do to improve and to continue maturing professionally.
Again HR plays a role here. Many managers benefit from coaching and role play activities to help them learn how to provide constructive feedback. HR can also facilitate manager peer forums to allow managers to discuss sticky personnel situations in a supportive and confidential environment.
Managers can help junior employees plan for their future on their team and with their organization by creating a professional 2016 New Year’s resolution with them. Providing a list of career aims and needed skills will give junior staff members a sense of direction and purpose. It will make them feel supported and send them the message that their manager is cued into their abilities, needs and goals.
It will also give them physical documentation that their manager has a plan for them, and that may be just what they need to keep them engaged for longer than three years.