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Four Ways to Stop Employee Turnover and Keep Your Top-Performers Engaged

By Carly MacLennan
Illustration of Carl the yeti sitting at computer being frustratied

People don’t quit their job, they quit their boss.

Your company spends money on benefits and events to woo top talent. But for at least half of your employees, those things won’t be enough to keep them around if they have a bad boss.

If so many managers are having a negative impact on their employees, why are they still managers?

Once upon a time, employees were promoted because they were top-performers in their non-managerial role and/or they’d been with the company the longest.

image with text - companies fail to promote the candidate with the right skills for managing 82 perfect of the time

Oh wait, this is still how managers are selected, and it has nothing to do with how good they are at managing. In fact, companies fail to promote the candidate with the right skills for managing 82% of the time. 82%!

The result? Bad bosses. Employee turnover. A big hit to your bottom-line.

So what’s an organization to do? If you want to keep those top-performers clocking the biggest wins in your organization and turn a profit, you need to train your managers and give them the right tools to be effective. You need to train them to think about their employees’ answers to engagement surveys.

Questions like:

  • Do you receive frequent appreciation for your work?
  • Do you have a positive relationship with your manager or supervisor?
  • Do you feel a sense of connectedness at work?

Here are our top four tips on how to foster high-five answers to these questions instead of getting warning signs that a departure of talent is imminent.

1. We spell culture T-E-A-M

In Nine Lies About Work, Buckingham and Goodall explain that most companies are caught up in the big culture framework for their whole company. But what your employees experience from day to day has everything to do with the people on their team, especially their boss.

It doesn’t matter how lofty your company’s mission is if your employees are experiencing confusion, disillusionment, lack of appreciation, and lack of trust from their manager. Employees may be perfectly happy with the company, but their actual lived experience of working is miserable.

So focus your efforts a little less on the top-down and a little more on where your employees work day-to-day.

What systems can you implement that streamline processes across teams so that communication is clear? What expectations can you set for managers to hold 1 on 1s with their team members? What tools might allow managers to recognize their employees more consistently?

Each of these things can help your performers feel like they belong at the company and get what they need from their boss. Here at Motivosity, we design software that helps your managers easily give their employees the recognition and connection they need to keep doing their best work, along with ways to measure your employee’s satisfaction to keep your best workers at your company.

2. Teach your managers to coach

The managers of decades-past were task-oriented, strictly overseeing work efforts to make sure their teams actually did their jobs. While today’s managers are typically top-performers themselves, they still have this old model to look to as an example of what they should do.

image with text - But that's task-management. And successful managers invest in their people, trust them, and train them as appropriate

Like the smart kid in the school group project who did the whole thing themselves to ensure they got an A, managers are often tempted to just do everyone else’s part. But that’s task-management, not people-management. And successful managers invest in their people, trust them, and train them as appropriate.

That training might look like connecting them with the right network of people in the company who can assist them, making sure they have access to the right data at the right time, and sharing some of your own work process with them. What have you found out about what works best with clients? Where do you usually turn for assistance? Coach by sharing your progress.

This is most effectively accomplished through 1 on 1s where employees can share their goals and struggles, and bosses can help their employees grow within the company and express appreciation. These meetings can go a long way in making your employee feel valued by their manager and the company.

product screenshot of Motivosity Lead showing a 1 on 1 meeting with priorities and agenda items

3. Consistency is key

Manager inconsistency drop-kicks the trust that is necessary to lead effectively, and it can be done in a variety of ways.

Managers who respond to a challenge with enthusiasm and ideas for solutions one week, but fly off the handle the next, make their employees feel nervous about approaching them with issues in the future. They understandably have no idea how their boss will respond and may attempt to keep their boss out of the loop in the future.

In another scenario, employees expect their quarterly reviews, weekly or monthly 1 on 1s, or the company-wide awards that may be typical for your organization. Managers that skip the expected points of feedback send their reports a clear message: “I don’t care about you.”

Inconsistency can even show up in practical scheduling issues. Can your employees count on the timing of team check-ins? Can they depend on you to honor time-off your company has implemented?

In every situation, the idea of being consistent is easy enough, but the execution can be elusive. In any case, organization leaders at the top should model the consistency they want their managers to have. It’s hard to implement something if there’s not a good example of it at the very top of your company.

And if you have to change things up, maintain the trust of your employees by clearly communicating why instead of leaving them in the dark wondering if they matter enough to be in the know.

4. Pay to recognize your employees or pay for their turnover

Research has proven that employees who feel valued and appreciated perform better and are more productive. We all have emotions and varying degrees of emotional intelligence. Managers who can detect when their employees need some affirmation — verbal, written, private, or public — can vastly improve their relationships with these employees.

But spoiler: we all need thanks. We all need to feel valued and appreciated. Or at least we do if we are going to be happy at our job.

At Motivosity, happiness is the number one thing we want for employees everywhere and their managers. We know that happy, appreciated employees stay at their job longer, work more effectively, and even help those around them.

So thank those employees! But how? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Use a 1 on 1 to give personalized positive feedback on what your employee is doing well on your team. This is important because employees who just receive sweeping generalizations of thanks or recognition often take it as insincere, which eliminates the benefits mentioned above.

  2. Start a “shoutouts” minute at team meetings to give managers and associates the chance to verbally high-five each other for jobs well-done.

  3. Say thank-you by offering flexibility. Offering an employee who stayed late finishing a project some extra morning hours to rest before coming in shows trust and appreciation for a difficult task. Same thing with a remote work option or flexible work delivery hours — employees feel trusted and valued.

  4. Implement an employee recognition software program. Managers may not feel up to the task of adequately thanking all their employees right away. Enter Motivosity’s software, which allows employees to thank each other, win prizes, and build camaraderie remotely.

All in all, these four tips can help your managers build better relationships with their employees, which means less turnover and better returns for your organization. Cha-ching for productivity, belonging, and happiness.