Posts Tagged "retention’

2 Steps to Reduce Voluntary Turnover to Zero

by Lynette Silva

Complex call centerRecognize This! – Understanding the importance of the work and the people doing it make work matter and make work more human.

The new year is nearly upon us (and I, for one, am ready to put paid to 2016). With the new year often comes the opportunity for evaluation of our lives and our priorities. Many of us start a new year with new ambitions, goals for change, ideas for improvements. And for some, that means thinking about a new job or a new career.

If I were to ask you, what types of jobs do you think might have people reconsidering their career path I’m willing to bet call center worker likely would appear on your list. Rightly so – call centers rank among the highest turnover jobs in the world at 30-45%. And that adds up to a lot of money (often in the multimillions of dollars) in terms of finding, hiring, training and coaching new inbound customer service representatives.

So what if I told you about a call center with workers who deal with irate customers call after call, day after day, and yet their turnover has been zero – ZERO – for several years?

SpotHero, a startup online company that rents out parking spaces, has figured it out. (Check out the full Planet Money podcast or transcript for the full story.)

1. Recognize the importance of the work being done

All work matters. Otherwise, why bother doing it? And for the customers of the product or service being provided, the work of the providers particularly matters. Yet sometimes we can fall into the habit of elevating one role over another. “Sales is king. Everyone else serves us.” “Product rules! Without a good product, Sales would have nothing to sell.” There’s no good endgame in this attitude, though. Instead, recognizing the importance of every role in creating a powerful whole is what creates organizational success.

Case in point at SpotHero: Their customer service team is called Customer Heroes. Because to the customer in the middle of a problem, that customer service rep is their hero in that moment. As one employee from the Product group explained:

“The rest of us are trying to make a good product and help our company grow. The Customer Heroes are on the front lines making those minute improvements to humanity all the time, all day, every day… We think of them as the heroes of the company because they’re heroes for individual humans out there in the world.”

2. Recognize the importance of the people doing the work

“Being heroes for individual humans” – what a wonderful way to remind people why their work matters. But knowing your work matters isn’t enough. As humans, we also need to know we matter. SpotHero addressed this important point in multiple ways, including capes for their heroes to wear and Hero Appreciation Day. They also strongly acknowledged what it means to work human by providing a room where people could get away after a hard call. To take a break, to reflect, to restore, to rejuvenate. They call that room the Zen Den.

When pressed about why a Zen Den matters, why adding people to reduce call loads wasn’t enough, call center manager Leah Potkin replied:

“Well, where’s the fun in that? Then maybe they won’t be burnt out from how much work they have, but they’ll be burnt out emotionally from just feeling empty and not really thinking their work matters, when the work they do is just so, so important.”

Think about the people you work with every day. Think about your own work. As we wrap up 2016 and prepare for a new year, how can you remind others – and yourself – that your work matters, that you matter?

Does Culture Relate to Retention or Not?

By Derek Irvine

businessmen-604311_960_720Recognize This! – One key to understanding why employees stay is culture, as long as we agree on what type of culture.

Employee retention is a complex phenomenon that can be difficult to predict broadly, not to mention down to the level of a single employee. The latter is the topic of a recent blog post I read on HRE Online, which addressed why people leave organizations with great cultures.

Getting past the headline, “Why you shouldn’t link culture with retention,” the argument appears to be that cultures should not be used to retain people, because of the fundamental human tendency towards boredom. As the novelty or effect wears off, employees get bored and leave. Instead, the post argues, culture should be used for driving performance.  While I certainly agree on the second point, I can’t say I’m fully behind the reasoning on the first.

I think there is a point to be made, however, if we conceptualize culture as gimmicky rather than authentic. Employees may take the job with the interesting perks and quirky environment, but those aspects can quickly fade into the background of daily tasks and responsibilities. When an alternative presents itself with a different set of quirks, it makes sense that employees who don’t feel the novelty anymore – and probably even some that do – will move on.

Sadly, this is a very transactional, “arms-race” approach to culture, with employees continually moving to the highest bidder without much connection to the company and colleagues. There is also a greater disconnect between this type of so-called culture and the actual work of the business, limiting even the impact on performance and productivity.

So what about retention and an authentic culture?

There is a very strong argument to be made for linking culture to retention, when we define culture as a fundamental aspect of organizational life that informs how decisions are made, why and how work is performed, and most importantly, how relationships within and across the company are defined. Cultures like this are not at risk of fading into the background because they are reflected in the everyday behaviors of employees, and are capable of evolving over time as the business changes and its employees adjust.

Culture helps to connect individuals to a greater collective, through shared underlying beliefs and values. When employees believe in the culture, precisely because it is shared and enacted every day, retention increases. This gets back to another fundamental human need: social belonging and purpose. I don’t believe that we can reasonably expect retention to ever reach 100%, but we can leverage culture to create an environment where employees are aligned, demonstrate the same values, and less likely to leave on the whole.

How has culture influenced your own decisions to leave or stay with a company?

What To Do With All These Trends?

by Derek Irvine

Arrows pointing opposite waysRecognize This! – Trends are often captivating, but it takes a unified vision to see how they all can fit together to work for you.

If you are anything like me, you enjoy the articles of trends to watch in 2016, what HR should look like in 2020, and what the blue chips are up to. There are so many interesting ideas, it can be hard to know what to pay attention to, let alone what might be a fit for your own organization’s style, culture, and strategy.

In a Perfect World…

Imagine you are given free rein as an HR professional for your company over the next year. You are free to develop and implement anything and everything you have dreamed. Where do you start and what do you do?

Now, and more importantly, how do you tie it all together into something cohesive? What’s your aligning vision or goal for everything you want to accomplish?

This is an especially important question to answer, but all too easy to miss. These forecasts can have an à-la-carte feel. Adopt this practice, tweak this system, analyze that data. This is possibly a symptom of the sheer complexity of what HR is tasked with these days.

Regardless, our goal should be to look for the connections between data points and trends, pressures from the external environment, and alignment between business needs and HR services. We must connect the items on any list into a cohesive perspective of business reality today and how we can improve in the future.

Bringing It All Together

Linda Mougalian’s TLNT article, “Top 4 Trends,”  is a powerful example of this approach. She identifies four crucial trends for HR professionals in the coming years. Among them are rethinking annual performance reviews, improving culture and engagement, adopting new talent sourcing methods, and refining analytics to drive better decisions.

In each, Linda focuses on a foundational concept that unites the set of trends: leveraging relationships and data through social technology. In our imagined scenario, this would be my aligning vision.

Here’s how it all fits together:

  • Building an engaged culture by connecting people to one another, a culture in which they can recognize the contributions of others in helping the team and the company deliver on its core values. Social technology provides the “virtual watercooler” – as well as the data and reporting capability – that makes it all work.

Everything else the business or HR does should flow from there:

  • Reviewing performance is grounded in these relationships, and the day-to-day work those relationships produce. Social technology provides more immediacy and frequent feedback, as well as the ability to track that relationship data.
  • Transmitting the value of your culture and relationships to the external talent market, leveraging social media channels to spread the word. In the words of Josh Bersin, “becoming irresistible.
  • Finally, leveraging data analytics about the social fabric of the organization in terms of ongoing collaboration, movement of key talent, and retention of high performers.

A culture of recognition is crucial in harnessing these trends towards more integration of relationships and data through social technologies. Whatever your specific unifying vision, it is highly likely that some part of the WorkHuman movement will be at its core.

What trends do you see as driving your company forward, and how are they all connected?

Compensation Cafe: Millennials on the Market

by Derek Irvine

Compensation Cafe logoRecognize This! — Career advancement can be perceived as only possible by changing organizations. Good leaders — and good cultures — give employees reasons to stay.

Recognition and retention are inextricably linked with each other. There is extensive research showing employees who do not feel noticed or valued are far more likely to leave for a workplace where they are. Blend this with the seemingly endless reports that Millennials are particularly likely to jump ship if they don’t feel praised, and it can seem like a bit of a firestorm on the topic with Millennials potentially targeted unfairly.

Why do I say “unfairly?” Yesterday on Compensation Cafe, I shared a recent study from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (reported in the Washington Post), that shows how much you earn in the first 10 years of your career is a primary factor in determining your lifetime earnings.

This should give us all pause to consider are we giving our early-career employees enough opportunities to grow and develop? Are we compensating them commensurate with their increasing duties? Are we giving them enough reason to stay and build their careers in your organization?

Read the full post on Compensation Cafe, then come back and tell me, what else are we doing or should we be doing to make the current workplace nearly impossible to leave?

Who Should You Recognize at Work?

by Lynette Silva

Several cards for saying "thanks"Recognize This! – Every employee should be contributing to your success. All are deserving of recognition.

I love my job. Every day, I get to help people find ways to make their work environments and culture more appreciative, grateful and purpose-driven. That’s powerful stuff. Arriving at such an important end goal, however, requires involving all employees in the effort. After all, every employee contributes to the culture of the company (whether good or bad).

The ramifications of this are quite broad. Many are calling 2015 the year of the retention challenge, with good reason. A recent KPMG global survey of “people and change practitioners” in their member firms highlighted this challenge, but also noted retention issues are different (quoting):

  • Skills shortages are set to increase as globalization and competitive pressures take hold across sectors and industries and improving economic conditions spur employees to seek new jobs.
  • Two-thirds of survey respondents say it is more important to address the talent needs of all employees, in the context of the business and its strategy.
  • Just over half agree or strongly agree that pursuing high potential talent at the team’s expense puts the business at risk.

A key theme of those findings is what we’ve been discussing for years – the efforts of all employees matter, otherwise why do we employ them? So if all efforts matter, we should be doing much more to invest in all employees in terms of training and development, tools and solutions to get the job done, and recognition and rewards.

For too long, resources have been concentrated on top performers primarily or fully at the exclusion of others. Our goal instead should be to offer those top performers the recognition, skills development and resources they deserve, but also ensure we are doing the same for the “Mighty Middle” – those 70% of employees in the middle of the performance bell curve. By focusing more time, attention and investment in these employees, we will move many of them up the bell curve into top performer range. At the very least, we are increasing the skills, commitment and engagement of a far greater percentage of employees – all proven to contribute to increase performance, productivity and retention.

Where to start? The KPMG survey points out an important path – “in context of the business and its strategy.” What guides your strategy? Many organizations have defined strategic objectives (goals) and core values (desired behaviors in achievement of those goals). That’s the ideal starting point. Work to embed those objectives and goals deeply into the daily efforts of every employee. Very specifically recognize employees when they do so. Empower everyone to praise and appreciate each other when they see the same. Provide a method and mechanism to make it fun, fast and easy to do so.

How are you viewing retention challenges in 2015? What’s your plan to retain needed talent?


Platinum Rule of Recognition: It’s Not about You – It’s About Them

by Derek Irvine

Image of blue goldfish swimming opposite of school of gold goldfishRecognize This! – A key aspect of effective employee recognition is providing appreciation in the way most meaningful to the recipient.

The Golden Rule – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” – is a good philosophical approach to life. But it doesn’t fully apply to employee recognition.

Too often, when we think about appreciating and recognizing others for contributions, work well done, or results, we think about how we would want to be recognized. But that ignores the needs and desires of the person we are trying to honor. And isn’t that really the point of recognition? To make the recipient feel valued, noticed and appreciated, and not to toot our own horn?

That’s why I like the idea of the “platinum rule.” Sharon Sloane, CEO of Will Interactive, recently discussed the platinum rule in terms of her leadership style. In this Corner Office interview, she said:

“It means, do unto others as they would have you do unto them. It recognizes that not everybody is motivated by the same thing. You can’t necessarily fulfill everyone’s wishes, but it’s crucial to understand what makes them tick.”

If you enjoy being publicly praised and acknowledged, don’t foist that preference on someone who hates the spotlight but would enjoy being praised in a private meeting with you. If you personally believe, “Getting paid is recognition enough,” realize that many people are motivated by understanding the impact and role of their work within a bigger picture. Frequent, timely recognition outside of a paycheck accomplishes this goal more readily.

Paul White, co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation at Work, points to some of these differences:

“What we have found is that people differ in how they want to be shown appreciation and encouragement. Verbal compliments are meaningful to some. To others, words are cheap and spending time with them is important. Helping employees dig out when they are behind on a project, or handing out restaurant gift cards or sports tickets after a particularly tough week, can be effective ways to convey support.

“For older workers, a handwritten personal note is often seen as very meaningful. But for millennial males, receiving something handwritten offers little added value. The key for them is the speed in which the feedback is given, preferably within 24 hours, as opposed to a few days.”

Paying attention to generational differences in recognition preferences can also pay dividends to your organization. Fast Company reported:

“Research by Deloitte is projecting that millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025. They are supportive of—and engaged with—companies that care about more than a high-profit margin. Leaders are noticing the change. According to Deloitte, 78% of business leaders rate retention and engagement as urgent or important.”

Recognition is the most powerful lever for increasing employee engagement and creating a positivity dominated workplace culture that employees don’t want to leave. Committing to recognizing others the way they want to be recognized is a critical step in that process.

How do you prefer to be recognized? How might that differ from your peers or members of your team?

If More Pay Won’t Retain Employees, What Will?

Image combining the words true and falseRecognize This! – “More money” is the safe, easy answer for why employees leave. That doesn’t mean it’s true.

Yesterday on Compensation Café I wrote about a survey showing that even though employees report being happier in their jobs, more of them are reportedly looking for a new job. I also wrote about Jessica Stillman’s perspective that, even though employees say “low pay” is the number one reason to leave, raises aren’t necessarily the answer.

Two very prescient commenters to that post (Jacque Vilet and John Bushfield) pointed out that more pay is the “easy answer” when asked “Why would you want to leave?” It’s also the “I don’t want to burn any bridges” safe answer employees give in their exit interviews as to why they actually are leaving.

But that doesn’t mean it’s true.

Of course, we’d all like more money in our paycheck, but pay alone often isn’t enough to get us to go through the process of searching for a new job. What does? We need to look at the next two items employees cited on the survey for the real reasons employees put themselves through the hassle of finding a new job:

  1. No possibility of advancement
  2. Underappreciated

Interestingly, these are the same two reasons cited in an APA (American Psychological Association) Center for Organizational Excellence survey I wrote about earlier this month. That survey found:

“The majority of workers (67 percent) continue to report that they are satisfied with their jobs. Yet, less than half continue to be satisfied with the growth and development opportunities (47 percent) and employee recognition practices (47 percent) offered by their employer.”

Do you see the theme here? The same two unmet needs are cited by employees who are satisfied with their jobs.

Think how much more productive, engaged and – yes – happy, employees would be if we could just figure out how to help them advance their careers and be recognized for good work. Reading between the lines, employees are clearly saying:

“I’m in a rut. I know my job and I do it well, but I’m bored and nobody appreciates the work I do anyway. I might as well go find a new challenge somewhere else.”

As I said in Compensation Café yesterday: Social recognition is one of the most powerful tools in the manager’s toolkit to both help employees feel more appreciated for the work they do and to assess employee job fit, contribution and potential areas for advancement. When the entire work community is involved in noticing and appreciating the good work of others, leaders gain much more information on where team members excel and contribute best. This information, when gathered in a strong system of record, can now be used for more effective talent management and advancement of careers.

Are you in a rut? Are your employees? What are your two greatest unmet needs in your work?

Millennials at Work – Don’t Believe the Myths

One of the enduring myths about Millennials in the workplace (employees aged 18-30) is they are overly entitled, needing feedback and praise at every turn and exhibiting little loyalty to their employers. This myth in particular irritates me because I believe these traits are not related to any particular generation, but rather are indicative of a person’s place in their career.

People in their first jobs naturally need and seek more feedback because they are unsure if they are doing the right thing. At that stage of life it’s also easier for many to jump jobs and more quickly increase experience levels (and salary). This was true of Gen X employees when they were at this stage of their careers, too.

That doesn’t mean we as managers and HR leaders can sit back and not take action to keep talented employees. To do so, we must better understand what Millennials are seeking to find – stability in a job they love that provides meaningful work.

Bersin by Deloitte released a summary of an extensive survey conducted by Telefonica consisting of 12,171 online quantitative interviews among Millennials aged 18-30 across 27 countries in six regions around the world. From the Bersin summary:

“Organizations are concerned with Millennials’ turnover, and with good reason: consultancies’ research reports that a half to two-thirds of this group intend to leave their organization. Despite past research I and colleagues have published which isolated generational differences (Kowske, Rasch, & Wiley, Journal of Business and Psychology) and showed this group as more satisfied at work as a generation, their age – their youth and career infancy – trumps. On job-hopping, Millennials are spilt with 53 percent preferring a steady job, and 47 percent feeling that it’s better to change jobs as opportunities arise…

“Seventy-six percent would rather love their job but make just a little money, and only 24 percent that wouldn’t mind hating their job if they made a lot of money.”

Research reported in SmartBlog shows similar findings:

“They want their job to mean something. A study on millennial employee satisfaction hints at more than a few who say they’d rather work at a place where they can make a direct social and environmental impact. About 72% of young workers about to enter the job market feel that way. As for millennials already working, 55% report working at a company where they can make a social and environmental impact. They are more likely to report job satisfaction (49%) that those who don’t work in a similar environment (24%).”

What does that mean for us in attracting and retaining Millennials? Yes, you need to create and clearly communicate an employee value proposition of how employees contribute to achieving a bigger mission that matters to them. But once on board, you need to continually reiterate and remind employees of the value and importance of their contributions. Make it a point to recognize individuals when they contribute to achieving the mission – and do so in a specific, detailed meaningful way so they understand the connection. Make their “making a difference” contribution visible to them and to others.

How does your organization work to attract and retain Millennials?

Don’t Think Retention Is an Issue? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider

Recognize This! – Traditional approaches to retention may no longer be enough.

Granted, the recover from the recession has been mediocre at best. In this reality, many company leaders have become complacent in regards to talent, assuming employees don’t have good options elsewhere so they’ll continue to stay put.

Those days are rapidly coming to an end. John Hollon, editor of TLNT, offers a brilliant summary of survey results recently released by OI Partners. Just glance at the chart below and you can quickly see the changing dynamics of retention in the workplace.

Report Higher Turnover Today

Concerned about Turnover

Front-line workers






Senior executives



Middle managers



With numbers like this, it’s no surprise the same survey shows retaining talent (70%) is the top HR challenge this year, closely followed by recruiting the right talent (65%).

So, what do you do to find and retain these top people. Unsurprisingly, the survey also cites coaching as the primary retention strategy, followed by better compensation and benefits. I’m glad to hear the latter, as too many employees took a hit on their pay and benefits during the recession and have yet to see those values restored as the economy continues to improve.

Yet, I’m also concerned that improving employee recognition and appreciation isn’t discussed as a major means of improving retention and recruitment. Indeed, our own Workforce Mood Tracker Survey found that 60% of those who don’t feel appreciated plan to look for a new job (vs. only 20% of those who do feel appreciated). Recognizing employees for their valuable contributions helps them see how they contribute to achieving a greater mission, a key element of both retention and employee engagement.

On the recruitment front, I can do no better than to point you to today’s post on the Globoforce blog in which my colleague, Darcy Jacobsen, says in part:

“All the same, employer brands can’t be ignored. Different from a marketing brand, an employer brand is the impression candidates have of your company and what it might be like to work for you. They have become a critical differentiating tool for attracting candidates. In fact, according to a recent Monster/Unum study of job seekers, culture trumps all.  A full 87 percent of employees said they want a company that they believe “truly cares about the well-being of its employees.”  Only 66 percent of respondents rated a high base salary as very important. This is why creating a great culture, and a great employer brand as a reflection of that culture, matters so much. It lets you put your best foot forward, and attracts the best candidates to your company.”

Retention can no longer be relegated to the back burner. Look closely at what you’re doing to ensure your employees are highly valued, recognized and appreciated in your organization.

How concerned are you about retention of key employees? What are you doing about it?

4 Questions HR Must Ask Itself in 2013

Recognize This! – Traditional approaches to HR roles and deliverables will not meet the needs of the 2013 workplace.

Intuit’s Fast Tack blog did a great job summarizing trends and predictions for 2013 based on PwC Saratoga’s 2012/2013 US Human Capital Effectiveness Report and The Herman Group’s predictions. Specifically, what jumped out at me was the storyline around productivity and turnover.

What’s coming in 2013? Trends show undeniably:

  • Declining productivity
  • Increasing voluntary turnover (first time in 6 years)
  • Increasing high-performer turnover (2 years in a row)

What’s being predicted for 2013?

  • More hiring, but trained/experienced workers are hard to find
  • More spending on training and workforce development
  • High turnover

What’s the storyline?

Employees are fed up with covering the work of three positions. They simply can’t keep up any more and are pushing back, either by leaving entirely or “quitting but forgetting to tell you” (declining productivity).

Employers know they need to hire to backfill positions lost during the recession (as well as replace those leaving), but they can’t find people who are qualified to do the work. Sure, it’s easier for the likes of GE to train employees for the new workplace reality, but it’s not as realistic for small and medium-sized businesses.

The real questions leaders should be asking in2013 are:

  1. Utilization: Are we properly utilizing the people we have today? Have we returned people to appropriate job roles/functions with appropriate expectations as we pull out of the recession (and sit on massive cash reserves)?
  2.  Training: Are we offering training programs (pre- and post-hire) to create the skilled workforce we need? Have we developed a detailed understanding of what our critical-to-hire roles require and incorporating these needs into training?
  3. Recruiting: Are we recruiting appropriately for the workforce actually available versus the ideal employee that is difficult if not impossible to find? Are we willing to hire for cultural fit, aptitude and potential, and then train for needed skills? How can we shift thinking to align with this goal?
  4. Recognition: Are we encouraging employees to maintain needed productivity even as we work to stabilize workloads? Are we recognizing and rewarding employees for both what they are accomplish as how they are doing it? Critically, are we creating loyalty among our workforce by helping employees see the meaning and value of their work within the bigger picture.

What trends do you see in HR? What are your predictions among your workforce in 2013? What are you planning in your own career?