Recognize This! – “I quit but forgot to tell you” employees are costing you more than you think.
Making the round of blogs lately is a Utah State University study of indicators an employee is about to leave your organization. Among the indicators are these behavioral changes people often make 1-2 months before leaving (quoting):
- They offered fewer constructive contributions in meetings.
- They were more reluctant to commit to long-term projects.
- They become more reserved and quiet.
- They became less interested in advancing in the organization.
- They were less interested in pleasing their boss than before.
- They avoided social interactions with their boss and other members of management.
- They suggested fewer new ideas or innovative approaches.
- They began doing the minimum amount of work needed and no longer went beyond the call of duty.
- They were less interested in participating in training and development programs.
- Their work productivity went down.
Looking at this list, I’m not as concerned about these as indicators of employees looking to leave but as classic indicators of “disengagement.” Remember, disengaged employees (and those looking to leave) are not delivering 100% at work – they are distracted with one foot already out the door.
Helping employees overcome these signs – re-engage at work, if you will – isn’t important only for retention, but also for the daily value and quality of the work being done. That’s why each of these items is also a timely reminder that helping employees engage at work is a daily effort.
How do you do that? Ask yourself:
- Are you praising people for making constructive contributions in meetings (even if they disagree with you)?
- Are you helping people understand how their individual tasks or deliverables contribute to advancing the organization?
- Are social interactions with management geared to help employees build deeper personal relationships across hierarchical lines or do they only serve as obligatory parties at key holidays or the like?
- Are you recognizing and rewarding people who bring new ideas or innovations, every time?
- Are you making room in people’s work schedules for them to participate in training and development without adding burden?
I’ve only addressed a few of the indicators, but I believe my point is clear. You get the behaviors your recognize. Your employees give you the level of engagement you encourage. That’s why social recognition is such a powerful method to improve engagement (and the associated quality of work) as well as quickly reduce voluntary turnover. And we all know the cost savings of improving our retention and engagement scores.
Think back over your own career. When you were ready to leave a prior organization? What early indicators showed you were beginning to disengage? What was the “final straw?” Now think about that same organization and why you initially chose to join it. What could have been done differently (by your manager, by leadership, by colleagues) that might have kept you engaged and on their payroll?