This is the final post of our three-part series discussing common challenges MSP businesses face when it comes to hiring and onboarding, retaining top talent, and reducing employee turnover. In the first two posts, we gave you best practices for owning the hiring and onboarding process and the importance of developing and maintaining an employee retention program. In our final post we’ll talk employee turnover, how to proactively diminish it, and, when necessary, embrace it.
A study done by HR Dive found that 75 percent of the causes of employee turnover are preventable. Fortunately, nearly all of the reasons shared we’ve already discussed and built into your retention program. However, there are few areas we haven’t touched on yet that are equally as important, but require a more holistic approach than simply building a program around them.
Have a Clear Vision
As a leader, having a clear vision for your company and employees goes a long way in instilling a sense of confidence and security amongst your team. With a clear vision, you can help your employees connect the dots on how their role directly ties into business success, making your employees feel valued and engaged in their role. Alarmingly, 76 percent of employees who do not feel valued are looking for other job opportunities. Your company’s vision impacts all aspects of your business; give it the consideration, energy, and time it deserves. The business implications of a half-baked vision span far beyond losing employees.
Look for Ways to Improve Work Conditions
To understand what types of working conditions your employees value most, start during the interviewing process. Ask open-ended questions to gather information about what potential employees are looking for from their employer. As you continue to build out your team, you should keep a pulse of their wants and needs, find similarities to see where some potential opportunities lie to improve work conditions and company culture.
Another aspect of work conditions is your physical office space. Is your office space conducive to innovation, creativity and collaboration? Is it cube central, or do you have an open floor concept? Arguments can be made for both sides, but it honestly will depend on the types of people working at your organization and the environment that allows them to be engaged and productive in their role.
We’ve already discussed how important hiring the right managers is for retention, but managers have an even bigger role to play in keeping employees engaged and focused through constant feedback.
A great way to ensure your managers are getting the face time and opportunities they need to provide feedback is through weekly one-on-ones. However, one common challenge to be aware of is ensuring these meetings are career focused instead of task-oriented conversations. We’re all guilty of this, but when you’re finally able to get in the same room as your manager, it’s easy to start talking through the tasks and deliverables you’ve been working on. Shift the conversation, ask your direct report how they’re feeling about their workload, what if any tools could help them do their job more effectively, ask if they still feel challenged. Ultimately, asking calibrated questions will help set the tone, allowing your employees to feel respected and heard.
Another study found that 69 percent of employees would work harder if they were better recognized. Recognition, however simple or complex, can make all the difference—but it’s all in the delivery. Make it personal, use specifics, and ensure it reemphasizes your organization's values.
For example, one of your employees took it upon himself to automate one of your internal platforms to improve operational efficiency, which resulted in $200 in savings and 30 minutes of time saved per engineer, per month. This is a HUGE cost saving for your organization, so publicly recognizing him could be a great way to show how much you value the incredible work that he did. However, if your employee had been coming in on the weekends or working 80+ hours a week to make these platform changes and your company values work-life balance, you don’t want to reward or acknowledge that behavior. Unknowingly, your recognition could send the message that you don’t actually value work-life balance and that in order to get recognized you have to work overtime.
Lastly, don’t over-recognize employees or normalize it to the point where it’s expected. While it can be extremely effective in making your employees feel proud of their accomplishments, it can lose its significance if it’s expected.
At this point, we’ve laid the groundwork and provided some sure-fire ways to help you keep your employees engaged and loyal to your organization, but turnover still happens. Sometimes it’s out of your control, and that’s okay, but what you can control is ensuring employees are leaving on a good note with you and your organization.
You should take your off-boarding strategy just as seriously as your onboarding. Exit interviews are a great place to start and provide you with insight into the reason(s) why they’re leaving. Now, look at this information objectively. Could your retention program be missing something, did the individual not feel challenged personally and professionally, how was their relationship with their manager, did they take advantage of the benefits available to them? All of these questions will help you understand if this was an isolated instance, or if there are opportunities for improvement from a hiring/onboarding, retention program, or general employee engagement standpoint.
We hope this series has provided you with the tools and resources necessary to build and maintain a highly productive and engaged IT workforce.
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By Gretchen Hoffman
By Gretchen Hoffman