Earlier this year, reporter Charlo Greene said “F**k it, I quit” and walked off camera during a live broadcast of KTVA news. How many people have dreamed of doing that?
When I recently left my position as a sales rep at a software company, I didn’t feel that satisfaction. As one of their top performers, I felt like I was backstabbing the company and being disloyal to the point where I almost felt obligated to stay.
Giving 2 weeks notice was challenging for me, but I had to pursue my dream of becoming the Director of Client Development at 15Five. I thought, does it really need to be this way? Losing a top employee is costly for companies, but shouldn’t employers want their people reaching their highest potential, even if that means leaving?
Average tenure for today’s workforce is 4.6 years (and only 3 years for millennials). Even relatively happy top-performers decide to move on. Life happens. Maybe someone wants to be closer to family, or their significant other gets a new job and they need to move. Maybe a person is ready to move into a management role, and that position is unavailable.
If a company is going to lose talent no matter what, why not be supportive and — as crazy as it sounds — actively help them find a new job?
The secret is to have authentic open conversations with employees. There has been a shift in the past several years away from command and control micromanagement. Employees demand more. They want freedom and flexibility. They want to be aligned with the company mission and values, and they crave relationship with managers.
Various studies have shown that employees require autonomy and the right amount of support if they are going to be their most creative, innovative, and productive. Just check out the Daniel Pink video below:
This style of management leads to greater employees satisfaction and increased retention rates. And when employees decide to move on, this creates an amazing win-win scenario where the smooth transition of the employee can benefit everyone.
The problem is that most employers are not willing to help employees move on. And employees are often afraid of giving two weeks notice for fear of being terminated on the spot. Instead of leaving the company frazzled, employees can have conversations with managers about their desired transition/career trajectory over a longer period than just 14 days.
Employees can help find and groom their own replacements, transfer knowledge, and be available for those critical phone calls when issues surface months down the road. All this without sacrificing personal integrity or professional growth.
As I build out out my sales team at 15Five, I plan on using a rather unique practice developed by my mentor. He requires everyone on his team to go on two external interviews every year.
Yes, I will actually encourage employees to interview elsewhere. I want them to work for us because they want to, not because they feel trapped. According to my mentor, this practice actually increased retention on his team, because all sales members know that the company has their back. They know that leadership wants what’s best for them, even if that means working elsewhere.
My goal is to help everyone to perform at their peak, achieve all their goals, and support their personal and professional growth. 15Five has experienced zero voluntary turnover in 3+ years, so I am not likely to be shocked by an employee giving notice (also because transparency is such a deeply held value here).
If that day comes, I would rather help an employee by recommending her for a job than try to convince her to do things that are not in-line with her best interests or zone of genius.
All companies struggle with employee retention. But trying to hold onto people or being unsupportive of their growth will only make matters worse. Ask for honest feedback, create strong relationships, and be supportive of the person and not just the role they fill. Those employees are likely to contribute immensely to the success of the company as they give you the best 4.6 years of their lives.
Mike Hoffman is the head of client development at 15Five, the leading web-based employee feedback and alignment solution that is transforming the way employees and managers communicate. Mike is passionate about rehumanizing business and helping employees become their greatest selves.
How do you deal with voluntary turnover? Are you supportive of employees or do you try to keep them at any cost?
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