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Reduce staff turnover by creating meaningful jobs

Staff turnover becomes an even more critical issue for most organisations in competitive and challenging economic times.

Reducing turnover and retaining capable and experienced employees for longer makes a notable difference to internal efficiencies, customer relationships and profitability.

We recently released the 2012 Retention Review, a study of our extensive Exit Survey database that found the majority of people leave their jobs because of poor job fit – either they didn’t suit their role or the role didn’t suit them. Reasons such as pay and conditions, and relationships with managers and teams were not as important to job leavers as job satisfaction, career opportunities and professional development.

So how can you use this knowledge to reduce turnover and retain your top talent? One strategy is to make jobs richer and more meaningful. People are much more likely to stay with their employer if they can personally identify with the organisation’s mission, believe that they are making a significant contribution and feel that their skills and interests fit well with the specific requirements of the job. Increasingly people want to feel part of something larger than themselves, to be challenged, to sharpen their skills and to give their dedication to an organisation that they believe is doing important or noble things.

1) Foster mission alignment to attract and retain top talent

Mission attachment, is where employees personally identify with what their organisation is trying to achieve. It plays an increasingly important role in attracting and retaining the right people.  Employees who express positive attitudes towards the organisation’s mission experience higher job satisfaction and indicate greater intention to stay. Our CEO Nicholas Barnett’s book, “GPS for your Organisation®: how to energise your employees and build sustainable high performance“, states that organisations must recognise the importance of having a clear, realistic and inspiring aspiration and purpose. It must connect with not only the heads but also the hearts of employees and enhance the meaning of their daily work.

2) Enable staff to make a noticeable difference and make this visible

Some roles are inherently multifaceted and challenging, while other roles can be more repetitive and monotonous. These fundamentals cannot be easily changed. However many organisations have found that much can be done to make all types of work more meaningful. The following can make a difference:

  • Measuring the impact of what employees do, for example, call centre operators gain a greater sense of satisfaction when they have the capacity and authority to solve clients’ problems
  • Creating a clear link from the employees’ job descriptions and KPIs to the organisation’s long term goals and strategies; our Alignment and Engagement Survey database indicates that only 44% of employees believe this link has been made
  • Ensuring employees understand what outcomes and standards are expected of them
  • Providing training for employees to enable them to do their jobs well; our Alignment and Engagement Survey database shows that less than half of employees feel they get sufficient training
  • Having IT systems that enable employees to serve their customers well; our Alignment and Engagement Survey data tells us only 48% of employees believe that this is the case
  • Receiving performance feedback that helps improve effectiveness; again our Alignment and Engagement Survey data indicates that only 47% of employees feel they get the feedback they need to do their job better

3) Make the investment required to achieve job fit

Job fit and recruiting or promoting the right people also plays a critical role in retention. Employees should feel that the job is right for them and enables them to make the most of their skills and experience. Staff turnover will be reduced when care is taken to clearly communicate the nature of the role and the attributes required to make the role a success. Many employers now include work colleagues in the recruitment process so that people working in a similar role can communicate details of the role and set the right expectations. This allows the candidate to make a more informed decision and reduces the likelihood that they will join with unrealistic expectations.

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