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Employee Retention: How Listening is a Game Changer

retention Dec 01, 2021

Ready for a shocking statistic? A study by Gallup showed that employees with managers who are willing to listen to their work-related problems are 62% less likely to be burned out. It’s an interesting thought that managers reduced the odds of burnout with a simple strategy: LISTEN!

We are often faced with a list, a list of what “we can’t” do, when it comes to retaining our best talent on our team. As we dive deeper into this conversation we are exploring what we realistically can do to keep them on the job and contributing at their best. It’s powerful to imagine that simply listening shifts circumstances or at least a perception of them. It’s like the room full of HR professionals I shared about in the last blog who were stressed out even in 2019 before a pandemic changed the landscape of work today. Coming together and listening made all the difference.

In the first moments of the conversation people felt hopeless and tired. As the conversation continued each person began to see they were not alone. Many in the room were experiencing the same problem and in the sharing and listening people felt validated in their experience. The conversation began to shift into the possibilities of what could be done. A list of great options was co-created by this group working together and it all started with listening. A door opened to new ways of thinking about the situation and hopelessness turned into hope.

Asking your people a few questions and then genuinely listening to their thoughts, feelings and ideas will reveal strategies you probably haven’t yet thought about. Many of those strategies will likely fall into one of three groups of what matter most to the people on your team.

A Great Place to Work (Culture)

You’ve probably heard that people don’t leave their job, they leave their manager. While that is true, it is much more than that. Research shows people are more engaged when they have a best friend at work. They also expect the organization’s leaders to be trustworthy with the stated values of the organization expressed in consistent and fair organizational practices that shape the employee experience. It’s quality relationships at every level with respectful treatment for all that turns out to be important. 

Do What You Love (Career)

In the Korn Ferry survey, 36% of professionals said the number one reason they want to quit is that the pandemic allowed them to reevaluate what they really want out of work. People want to do what they love every day along with the opportunity to develop new skills and see a clear path to advance their career. We didn’t know how important this was until the pandemic put a magnifying glass on this deeper need in all of us. Now we see. When we see it, we can do something about it. 

Fair Pay and Benefits (Compensation) 

In a recent report, Gallup proposes that transparent conversations about pay are essential to helping employees appreciate the “why” behind their compensation. Especially when market-level pay isn’t achievable for many leaders in small organizations. A more comprehensive approach that integrates development plans, recognition strategies, engagement initiatives along with pay conversations can elevate the total value offered to your people. Compensation is an important and necessary ingredient to retention that we often don’t like to talk about. Starting the conversation now might be the very thing that helps you know exactly what you need to do to retain your people. 

“Too little money will definitely create high churn, but over compensating people won't make up for a poor work environment.” ~ Josh Bersin

These three retention drivers show up in every kind of organization. As a leader in a smaller organization, faith based nonprofit, or church ministry you have unique limitations based on both resources and opportunities. So, let’s dive into strategies on each of these drivers of employee retention in the next three blogs making them relevant for your size organization

What’s Next?

Remember different people need these three things in different proportions depending on who they are and where they are at in their personal and professional goals. The “three slices of the pie” are likely not equal. The only way to find out what your team member needs is to ask and LISTEN. So, where do you start?

  1. Ask your people what is going on for them. Acknowledge the reality of their experience. Ask questions to deepen your understanding of what is important to them in that experience.
  2. Notice where their needs and aspirations fall. What does their “pie” look like as they talk through what is going on for them and what is important to them?
  3. Collect their feedback. Request input on what is important to them to love where they work (culture), love what they do (career) and feel valued and acknowledged for their contribution (compensation). 

Come back and check out the next three blogs to get some tangible strategies on what you can do with what you find out by LISTENING! Want to co-create some strategies that are a fit for you? Let’s dive into some brainstorming in a FREE 30 minute strategy session.

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