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WEDNESDAY WORKFACT: 51 Percent of U.S. Employees Are Quitting Their Jobs. Try These 4 Strategies to Keep Them From Leaving

Founder and Chief Human Officer, Leadership From the Core

Last year, Gallup published the third iteration of its  State of the American Workplace  report, an in-depth  study  created to help business leaders optimize their hiring,  engagement, and performance strategies.

Collecting  data from more than  195,000 U.S.  employees, Gallup scientists asked employees to indicate the top reasons they would consider leaving their firms for a different organization. What floated to the top can be summarized in one distinct sentence:

Their work doesn’t have meaning and purpose.

To give managers  some lucid insight, when your employees don’t get to do what they do best regularly, they exit early; having work with purpose is what workers value most.

Couple that with the fact that only one-third of U.S. employees are engaged in their work and workplace right now, and it should come as no surprise that, according to Gallup’s report,  51 percent of American workers  are actively looking for a different job or watching for openings right now.  

“Employees feel rather indifferent about their job and the work they are being asked to do. Organizations are not giving them compelling reasons to stay,” states the report.

Fixing the problem today.

Steve Taylor,  writing for  Psychology Today, states, “The need for purpose is one the defining characteristics of human beings. Human beings crave purpose, and suffer serious psychological difficulties when we don’t have it. Purpose is a fundamental component of a fulfilling life.”  

That’s an alarming quote, since most of us spend the majority of our awake time at work. To close the  wide gap between work and lack of purpose,  Gallup says employees will do their best by integrating  their biggest strengths: talent (the natural capacity for excellence); skills (what they can do); and  knowledge (what they know).

People love to use their unique talents, skills, and knowledge, but conventional managers typically lack the capacity to know how to create the environment for this to take place.

Let’s practically illustrate  what truly engaging and human-centered leaders  do differently to keep their  employees from jumping ship.

1. They get to know their people to discover their strengths.

This is the most obvious first step for all managers, whatever their level: finding out the talents, skills, and knowledge  of their employees. Great leaders will leverage close relationships with employees by finding out what their strengths are  and bringing out the best in their employees. Once they truly understand their employees’ God-given talents, they’ll begin to craft and assign  meaningful work that goes beyond a static  job description.

2. They match their employees’ roles to their  strengths.

To get employees to “do what I do best” along with a sense of purpose, managers must match the right person with the right role. Gallup states that “when employees are a mismatch for their role and organization, they often struggle to succeed or become bored and restless.”  Workers want roles that allow them to make the most of their strengths.

3. They help them 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 they have options to stay within the organization without having to leave.

4. They practice the “stay interview”  method.

We’ve all heard of the traditional  exit-interview questions once an employee quits. Research found that what is shared in these exit interviews is seldom used to improve the organization–it’s an  obsolete formality. Great leaders, on the other hand,  ask  stay-interview questions  like:  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 their full potential? What would give you more purpose in your role? These are the types of future-focused questions that will spark  discussions about engaging and retaining  your top performers before they emotionally check out and start looking for other opportunities.