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How to Win Your Best Employees Back Before They Leave

Monday, January 22, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Alyce Ryan
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Origionally Published On Inc.com

Written By: Marcel Schwantes

We've all heard the expression, "People leave managers, not companies." It's not corporate cliché; the research overwhelmingly validates the statement.

Unless you're Facebook. Their People Analytics team recently found that their employees leave not because of bad bosses but because of bad work. It was the job that made them quit.

Still, jobs remain the jurisdiction of bosses responsible for designing the work that employees perform. In Facebook's case, people's reasons for quitting over their jobs fall, directly or indirectly, on their managers. 

According to new research, 51 percent of employees may leave your company now.

That's why Gallup's 2017 State of the American Workplace report is a wake-up for organizations everywhere looking to resolve their turnover problems. Not surprisingly, once again, managers were identified as the main cause for current workers wanting to make a change. 

Even more startling was the discovery that 51 percent of currently employed adults in the U.S. are searching for new jobs or watching for new job opportunities.

Adding insult to injury, of those 51 percent of employees using company time to scroll through Indeed job postings, 47 percent of employees are pretty optimistic about their chances; they say now is a good time to find a quality job. That's in stark contrast to 2012, when only 19 percent of U.S. workers stated that it was a good time to change jobs. 

How to win your best employees back before they leave.

According to Gallup, the strategy to win them back is through "re-recruitment" of your best people, which I will highlight below. But first, take a look at your leadership and management team. It start with them. Do they have the capacity to lead well? Because that's what it's going to take to pull off these four strategies and change the minds of your best people moving forward.

1. Help your best people find another job...inside the company. 

Exceptional managers allow their best people to move around the organization. They'll craft new job roles for them and expand work to play to their strengths and keep things interesting. So, let them know that they have options to stay within the organization without having to leave.

2. Convince your best people that they can learn and grow with you, instead of outgrow you.

Have development conversations to keep the work meaningful. Ask questions like: What are you learning? What roadblocks are you encountering? How can I help you with your professional development interests? Do you have a sense of what you'd like to learn next?Growth can mean learning new skills, collaborating with new teams, having new responsibilities, or mentoring new employees.

3. Conduct a "stay interview" with your best people. 

This is the heart of re-recruitment -- asking stay interview questions before they find another job. For example: What do you like about your job? What don't you like about your job? What work are you interested in doing? Do you feel your strengths are being used to its full potential? These are the types of future-focused questions that will spark up great discussions about engaging and retaining your top performers before they emotionally check out and start looking for other opportunities elsewhere. 

4. Recognize your best people.

In Gallup's study, only 3 in 10 U.S. employees strongly agree with the statement, "In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work." As reported, "Employees who do not feel adequately recognized are twice as likely as those who do feel adequately recognized to say they'll quit in the next year." It was also found that the more talented the employee is, the faster they leave. What's the solution? Gallup recommends these strategies for recognizing your employees the right way:

  • The best recognition is highly individualized: learn how each employee likes to be recognized.
  • When praising people for doing good work, be specific about why the recognized act was important.
  • Along with leaders, promote a recognition-rich environment with praise coming from multiple sources at multiple times.
  • Praise should be given once per week. Employees who receive it on a regular basis increase their productivity and receive higher satisfaction scores from customers.
  • The most meaningful and memorable recognition comes from their manager, followed by recognition from a leader or CEO, their manager's manager, customers and peers.
  • Be cautious not to rely too much on technology-based tools for immediate and peer-based feedback. Technology is not a substitute for face-to-face recognition.


The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.