If organizations were people, they would be diagnosed with perpetual self-harm when it comes to retention

shoot yourself in the foot

I often speak to HR professionals & leaders who talk about retention in the following way:

“Bobbi, all our great people keep leaving, we don’t know what’s going on!?”

“Bobbi, it doesn’t matter what we do, we just can’t reduce our staff turnover”.

“Bobbi, we’ve really been a victim of The Great Resignation”.

Yes, they do actually use the word victim, and they really feel that they are.

On the flip side, I speak to employees. Often talented, dedicated, high-performing employees. Employees who have shaped organizations, turned around business units, innovated new products & services, driven up sales, transformed culture, or dramatically increased customer loyalty, who are now leaving their current organisations.

When I ask why? More often than not, I hear a response like this:

“There just wasn’t any growth opportunities for me, nowhere for me to go. So, reluctantly, I had to move on to find a new opportunity. I’m sad to leave, but I was left with no choice.”

There’s some serious denial at play here. A belief that these retention problems are happening at our organization, rather than because of the actions or inactions ofthe organization.

This denial is tantamount to self-harm, and unless we get it under control, the consequences will continue to undermine our good work.

Let’s get real!

We are in a time with the highest levels of talent attrition, and the most challenging period of talent attraction in history, and we are still spinning the ‘we had no choice line’. Really!?

Of course there’s a choice. There are hundreds of choices.

There are challenges across every element of our organizations that we cannot solve because we are unable to recruit enough people to keep on top of our daily demands, let alone preparing our businesses for the future. These challenges present the solution to retaining our best people.

We are plagued by inefficiencies, crippled by indecision, and weakened by disengaged staff we cannot motivate.

We have customers giving us feedback we aren’t listening to, employees with great ideas they cannot get anyone to pay attention to, and uncontrollable levels of burnout due to workloads that cannot be effectively managed. There are ample opportunities to redeploy talent to new areas.

And despite all this, we are letting our top talent walk out the door and into the welcoming arms of our competitors. These competitors are better able to spot our employees’ potential in a few hours of interviews than we spotted in their months or years of tenure with us.

If businesses were people, I want to throw a bucket of cold water on them and tell them to “wake-up!”.

In a discussion with a friend of mine who recently took on a more challenging role in a new organization, I was heartbroken to hear them say the following about their previous employer;

“I tried my best to move departments but just kept hitting brick walls. For years I proved my worth and ability. I have come to the conclusion I was just a number”.

We are far too busy allowing P&Ls, job descriptions, silo mentalities, and fixed mindsets to govern us. As a result, we are missing out on the huge potential sitting right in front of us. Just because an employee joins us in one department, does not mean their only option for progression, to add more value sits within that ‘lane’.

Employees don’t simply want a promotion to make more money, sure it helps but, what they really want is to be seen, for their value to be recognised, for their capabilities to be utilised, and their potential fulfilled, nay, expanded! THIS is workplace wellbeing!

Our current approach to retention presents two choices; a gun to shoot ourselves in the foot with, or a ball to blast into the back of our own goal.

Don’t like the sound of either of those? Me neither!

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