How to Lose an Employee

How to Lose an Employee

While certainly longer than the 10 days from the movie, did you know that your employees will decide in just a short 45 days if your organization—your team—is right for them? And sadly, more than 20 percent usually decide it’s not. In this article, we’re sharing how to to lose an employee in the hopes that you don’t!

Spoiler alert: Don’t worry, this isn’t a how to lose an employee article…we also give you 3 ways to save an employee in 45 days if you keep reading.

In most cases, the number one reason a team member leaves is because of the manager-employee relationship. In fact, a GoodHire survey found that 82 percent of workers would quit a job because of a bad manager or friction with their boss. When you factor in the loss of productivity your team experiences when they leave, the gut punch to morale, and the time you invested in finding your new hire—which is often double the amount of time they actually spent on the job…we’re talking upwards of a 90 to 120-day hiring process—it’s really expensive and painful to lose new employees, or any employee, to issues like this. So here’s how to lose an employee fast.

Here’s How to Lose an Employee Quickly

Play hard to get…

As a people leader, your job is hard. You’re both a strategic leader and have to balance the day-to-day tasks and goals for yourself and your team members. Most of your day is consumed with 1:1s, team meetings, project-specific meetings, and reporting up to executive management. Your time is stretched thin, so while you’re not eluding your new hires intentionally, it could come off that way to them. 

The first 45 days of managing a team member is like the honeymoon phase. You’ll have to set aside time each day to check in with them, while scheduling formal meetings. Add in a series of exploratory conversations and key questions so you can gain insights into your new employee. Find out what they like (or don’t) about their new position, learn about their expectations, and solve budding problems quickly.

Of course, the administrative, IT, and general company overview are entirely necessary components of any onboarding process. But, when you stop to consider that every new hire is a unique individual with different ways of learning, communicating, and retaining information, it only makes sense that training and onboarding is personalized to each individual. Does it take more time, effort, and planning? Sure, but it also ensures your new hire feels valued—like they belong and are worth investing in—which results in increased employee satisfaction and motivation and a higher likelihood of retention. 

Undervalue diversity of thought…

Many of us are creatures of habit and doing something ‘because we’ve always done it that way’ just feels comfortable. But being closed off to different ways of doing things, new ideas, or other ways of working is a surefire way to create conflict between yourself and team members. Plus, managing people in ways that are comfortable to you, in ways that expect people to adapt to your working and communication styles, usually doesn’t lead to innovation, breakthrough ideas, or creative problem solving. When you create a team dynamic that allows people to bring in diversity of thought, the unique experiences of their background—and they know you’ll be open to it without fear of penalty—you’ll create a strong foundation of belonging and begin to achieve team goals in ways you might not have considered before.  

Why the Manager-Employee Relationship Matters So Much

You are the conduit through which employees receive important communications, understand company values, and experience belonging, growth, a sense of purpose in their work, and so much more. Your influence is impactful and often underestimated — and, in fact, the manager-employee relationship is perhaps the most important one in an organization. 

According to this Gallup finding, managers account for 70% of the variance in team engagement. When there’s a focus on improving the employee-manager relationship, the outcomes are shown to be well worth the effort. For example, RedThread’s research revealed that companies with effective managers realize a higher NPS score and greater engagement. Positive manager-employee relationships management can increase productivity, creativity, innovation, and collaboration, while reducing employee absenteeism and turnover.

Similarly, a report from UKG earlier this year found that 46% of managers said they were likely to quit because of job-related stress. Unlike individual contributors, managers are caught in the middle — expected to deliver on the demands of the business and to guide, coach, and relate to their reports in very humanistic ways. Hybrid work environments, along with employees’ changing expectations of their employers, have shifted the manager’s role and level of support needed. In fact, Betterworks’ State of Performance Enablement research shows that only a quarter of managers get the support they need to manage distributed  teams. Under half receive some support, and about a third receive support either rarely or not at all. 

The bottom line is that organizations — specifically, those leaders with the most authority — have the responsibility and ability to adopt practices that will strengthen manager effectiveness and, ultimately, the manager-employee relationship. Besides that, why run the risk of losing good employees to something so solvable?

3 Ways to Save an Employee in Less Than 45 Days

When you don’t make the time, provide templated training, and undervalue diversity of thought, you’re sure to create friction—and it can show itself in a variety of ways. If you find yourself saying things like:

  • ‘We don’t have time to discuss this…’
  • ‘This is the situation and here’s what we’re going to do…’
  • ‘I’ve got so much on my plate…’
  • ‘That’ll never work…’

You are probably building friction with your employees, damaging the manager-employee relationship, and don’t even know it—that is, until they quit. When employees pick up vibes that you don’t like them or their ideas, that they’re not being treated fairly or feeling valued, or the differences in communication styles are causing misunderstandings, they’ll start to think of an exit plan. And who can blame them? It’s simply self-preservation.

So before all that happens, consider that these three things can help you build positive manager-employee relationships that will encourage better productivity and collaboration among teams. When there’s mutual respect between a manager and a worker, there’s more willingness on both ends to offer support and perform well.

Understand what makes your employees tick

It’s no great secret that everyone works in different ways and that diverse working styles or work energizers can often clash and lead to conflict. Nothing hurts productivity and growth like a manager and employee who don’t know how to work together. All employees have different styles of working that draw on their strengths and weaknesses. And these different styles or work energizers make up a team dynamic. For teams to work together effectively, they should be aware of each other’s ways of working, and leaders need to be able to manage different work styles to their advantage.

As a team leader, you have to understand and manage a variety of work styles every day to be effective. So let’s start with a quick little assessment. This test might sound a bit like you are at the eye doctor, but we promise it will be painless. Simply pick option 1 or 2 for each of the following questions:

  • When it comes to solving problems, do you tend to be more  (1) Deliberate or (2) Decisive?
  • When it comes to relating to people, do you tend to be more  (1) Reflective or (2) Outgoing?
  • When it comes to your work pace or level of urgency, do you tend to be more  (1) Steady or (2) Spontaneous?
  • When it comes to processes and procedures, do you tend to be more (1) Cautious or (2) Freeform?

Now count up your ONEs and TWOs. If you end up with 3 or 4 ONEs, your overall work style is oriented toward stability. If you end up with 3 or 4 TWOs, your overall work style is oriented toward change. If you end up with 2 ONEs and 2 TWOs, you bring a balance between stability and change orientation.

On any given team and depending on size, you may want at least two different types of work styles present. At minimum, you’ll want to understand a person’s work style and then figure out how to use it best. 

There’s a popular decision-making practice where employees assume different thinking hats. For example, one employee may be tasked with coming up with new ideas. They’re encouraged to bring unpredictable or possibly outlandish ideas to a meeting. Another employee is then tasked with being more discerning. They ask questions and assess the risks of different ideas. By assigning team members a specific hat, at different times, for different projects, it opens up space for more inclusive discussions where a variety of ideas and perspectives can have a seat at the table. It’s a great way to bust dreaded group-think that often stifles innovation. This approach shows that every work style is a strength when expressed in the right situations.

Tailor training to your employee’s personality

When it comes to training, the old “one-size-fits-all” tactic just doesn’t cut it anymore. Just as in other facets of their lives, they expect a personalized experience. With a more tech-savvy workforce than ever before, online learning platforms are a big hit. Some organizations are even rethinking training content altogether and how they can better cater to diverse learning appetites, ensuring greater effectiveness in the long run. Fortunately, training and creating an environment that values continuous learning doesn’t have to take a ton of time and is easy when you leverage AI. 

For example, say you have a new Gen Z hire that needs to email the head of sales, John, every week with reported leads. The problem is, they hardly know John and have no idea how John likes to consume information. With an AI tool that uses your company’s previously recorded psychometric data, your new hire can use pre-supplemented suggestions to ensure their emails are comprehensive and useful for John, despite never meeting or hardly interacting with John. This AI-fueled approach to “on-the-fly” training can extend beyond emails to all communications, ultimately helping your employees learn new skills and making their contributions to the business more impactful. When you support your new hires like this, you’re setting them up for success and building a strong relationship out of the gate.

Foster a sense of belonging

When a team can see and understand how each person brings unique work-style strengths to the team, their capacity for better collaboration increases. Use a psychometric-based assessment to measure your team’s unique culture and determine the shared strengths of the team, as well as each individual team member. Then use your team meetings to talk about how those differences have benefited the team.

Ensure you actively bring in your more reflective team members, as they may not readily volunteer what they are thinking. Tap into people who are wired for a specific topic. For instance, ask your freeform team members to come prepared with some new ideas. Leading team meetings with intention makes the meeting outcome more productive, and it allows you to draw on different team members’ strengths. 

Here’s an example of how you can better manage a real go-getter on your team. You’ll want to be very direct with this employee. Tell him where he stands, what needs to be done, then get out of his way and let him do it. He’s all about getting it done. This team member will appreciate knowing where he stands with you. Meeting each employee where they are when you interact with them in meetings will go a long way toward fostering the trust you need to execute on the vision you have set for the team.

How to Lose an Employee: “It’s like a Manager’s Cheat Sheet for Working with Others”

But we know what you’re thinking…how can you possibly expect me to keep track of everyone’s learning styles, communication preferences, and work styles? The good news is that you don’t have to.

With every interaction, with any employee—new hire or not—you can see the personality traits of your colleague to understand what motivates them and how to best communicate with them. 

We told you earlier that we know how to find out these things about your coworkers. We asked employee Ray to take a 10-minute assessment, and we learned that Ray is inquisitive and likes to gather as much information as possible.

Now, when you reach out to Ray, you won’t feel defensive or bombarded by all of Ray’s questions because you know he thinks like a “Scholar” and that’s what scholars do. What’s even better, you don’t have to track, monitor, or remember any of this. With every email and interaction, you can simply write your message and then have generative AI re-write in the way that best suits Ray’s personality.

No more friction. Just productive conversations and meaningful connections. 

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Improving Employee Retention: A Must-Do List
Improving Employee Retention: A Must-Do List

A fast employee churn rate can lead to higher training costs, low employee morale, and operational inefficiencies. Eventually, it can reduce your profits and negatively impact your bottom line. That’s why it’s important for businesses to learn how to prepare for it and, better yet, work to improve employee retention. While there may be signs that the Great Resignation is easing slightly, the ongoing exodus of workers is a challenge leaders will have to contend with for the foreseeable future. A Workhuman® iQ survey of more than 3,500 workers in the U.S., U.K., Ireland, and Canada offers some revealing insights into the root causes of why employees are leaving their jobs – and a road map on how companies of all sizes can retain more of their talented humans. Employee Turnover By the Numbers Overall, nearly 38% of those surveyed by Workhuman are planning to look for a new job in the next 12 months. This projected voluntary turnover has the potential to cost businesses billions.  In fact, according to Gallup, the cost of replacing an individual employee can range from one half to two times the employee’s annual salary -- and that's a conservative estimate. So, a 100-person organization that provides an average salary of $50,000 could have turnover and replacement costs of approximately $660,000 to $2.6 million per year. In addition, nearly 19 million people either change occupations or exit the labor force each year, creating an average turnover rate of 20%. Top Reasons for Plummeting Employee Retention Employee Burnout & Dissatisfaction with Opportunities Salary isn’t the only reason workers are leaving their jobs. It should be no surprise many workers are reevaluating their jobs considering the stress and isolation they’ve endured these past few years.  A March 2022 survey by the Pew Research Center found that while low pay was the primary reason people left their jobs last year, it was closely followed by respondents saying they lacked opportunities for advancement in their role. And 35% of people said that feeling disrespected at work was a major reason they left. One study from the University of Chicago found that employees worked more hours during the pandemic, but their productivity dropped. For many people, working for the past two years may feel like running on a treadmill that never turns off.  Research by Mental Health America and FlexJobs shows that 76% of respondents agreed that workplace stress affects their mental health and have experienced burnout. Burnout is an extreme form of workplace stress whereby the stress you are experiencing makes way for mental and emotional exhaustion. The World Health Organization (WHO) characterizes burnout by three main dimensions:Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion Increased mental distance from one’s job, feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job Reduced professional efficacyFlexibility & The Remote vs. Return Debate The pandemic forced a dramatic shift in the employer-employee relationship. It’s also helped workers realize what really matters when it comes to their careers. In Workhuman’s survey, nearly one-third (30%) of those workers planning to look for a new job cited, “I want more flexibility” as their primary reason for doing so. That number jumped to 39% for Black workers. So that’s when work gets done. Let’s talk about where works gets done. Reverting to a fully in-person workplace: Just 3% of white-collar workers want to return to the office full-time (according to survey results published by Fortune), and more than half of respondents in multiple surveys have shown workers will consider leaving their company if forced into full-time in-person workplaces, and many speculate this is a foundational, long-term shift in worker expectations. Switching to a fully remote workplace: Globally, about 16% of companies are fully remote, and those who have embraced a fully remote workforce are both setting expectations among workers about what the workplace experience should and shouldn’t entail (flexibility, autonomy; savings of cost and time associated with the elimination of the daily commute; lifestyle flexibility to keep their job if they want to relocate to a different city, state or even country). Supporting a hybrid workforce: This is the model most workers say they want — not to be fully remote full-time, but a position that gives them the flexibility to work remotely when and how they need. The statistics are compelling — in a global survey conducted by Slack, 78% of respondents said they wanted workplace location flexibility, and 95% said they wanted schedule flexibility. Finally, a study highlighted by Harvard Business Review found that 59% of workers find flexibility more important than salary. It suggests that workers seek autonomy to decide when and where they work rather than a set hybrid schedule of in-person and remote work days. If employers aren’t willing to extend flexible scheduling to their workers, people are ready to take their skills elsewhere. Poor Manager-Employee Connection The shift in where work gets done, with increased flexibility, is good for employees. But for organizations and people leaders, it makes the need for clear, consistent communication even more important. Leaders can no longer rely on word-of-mouth or quick lunchroom conversations for important information about company initiatives to circulate throughout the organization.  Data from the Workhuman’s survey report shows that frequent check-ins are critical in the manager-employee relationship. Employees were asked to rate their manager on a scale of 1-10 based on how well their manager keeps them motivated and engaged. When managers check in at least weekly, their rating is nearly 2x higher than managers who never check in. Likewise, workers who received feedback within the last month – as opposed to never – are much more likely to feel a sense of connection to their company as a whole. For strategies on how to lead with empathy and establish meaningful connection with team members, check out this article.  Psychological Safety to Boost Employee Retention Today, there’s a more nuanced lens on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging – and it’s called psychological safety – that companies should address to stay competitive in this job market.  Workers resoundingly express dissatisfaction with a workplace culture where their voices aren’t heard, blame-placing is rampant, or any one of many toxic elements in an organization’s culture may exist.  What they are really talking about is a lack of psychological safety. First coined by Amy Edmondson in a 1999 journal exploring its relationship to team learning and performance, psychological safety is the ability to speak one’s mind without fear of punishment or embarrassment.  At the heart of a psychologically safe environment is a sense of belonging with or being accepted by others.  Feeling accepted reduces anxiety associated with interpersonal risk, allowing learning to occur. Learning improves the quality and frequency of contributions, and ultimately leads workers to identify and own productivity and efficiency improvements. Looking again at the issue of working remotely, surveys also show that worker apprehension and anxiety about their working location and conditions are improved dramatically when their organizational leaders and managers are clear and transparent about the decision-making process, especially when employees are given a voice in the process.  Being inclusive creates a sense of belonging and makes employees less likely to go find it elsewhere. The Best Ways to Increase Employee Retention While we may be a ways away from a Great Retention, research from Robert Half suggests that many workers remain confident about their prospects in the current hiring market, which means employers must still be vigilant about the risk of top performers walking out the door. Robert Half’s Job Optimism Survey of more than 2,400 professionals, which tracks worker sentiment on current and future career prospects, finds that 41% of respondents planned to look for a new role in the second half of 2022. So, now is the time to confirm that your business is doing the right things to help drive employee job satisfaction and, ultimately, the retention of highly valued talent. Here are the top areas to focus on. ✔Mentorship programs & learning development opportunities ✔Professional advancement or internal mobility in the company ✔Wellbeing offerings and recognition  ✔Embracing flexibility in how and where work gets done ✔Continuous feedback on performance  ✔Open communication  ✔Emphasis on collaborative teamwork At the end of the day, decreasing employee turnover and increasing employee retention doesn’t just help your company; it helps your people. An employee who feels connection to others is an employee who is most likely to engage. And an employee who can fully engage is an employee who feels compelled to stay. 

Productivity Abundance: Using HR Tech to Unlock its Power
Productivity Abundance: Using HR Tech to Unlock its Power

In a 2024 trends and outlook piece, Josh Bersin said that that C-suite leaders are being pressured to “hoard talent, invest in productivity, and redevelop people for growth.” Bersin called it The Productivity Advantage. This productivity abundance strategy entails improving pay equity, continuing hybrid work models, investing in human-centered leadership, and giving people opportunities for new careers inside the company. This is why talent marketplaces, skills-based development, and learning in the flow of work are so important. “If you can help your company move faster, you can reinvent faster than your competition.” Like many leaders in the business world, Bersin also predicts that leveraging AI for processes will be key to achieving productivity. Productivity Abundance for Teams In an era dominated by rapid technological advancements, adaptability and forward-thinking strategies are in demand. According to McKinsey, companies that are agile in this aspect are redefining operational excellence, maximizing returns from both talent and software investments while fostering innovation to drive growth. McKinsey researchers also point out that digital and AI transformations can more closely unite business operations while also enhancing workforce skills and empowering teams to innovate. This indicates that output doesn’t have to come at the cost of personal creativity or the human aspects of our work. Technology can facilitate positive results for both the business bottom line and the wellbeing of the workforce, say the report’s authors, leading to collective prosperity for the totality of the organization. From Productivity to Human Performance According to Deloitte, the once-straightforward correlation between individual tasks and tangible outcomes has become blurred in today’s complex, collaborative environment. Traditional metrics—like hours worked or widgets produced—are no longer sufficient in measuring success, especially with the rise of technology and AI automating routine tasks. Those forward-thinking businesses won’t only calculate success by conventional measures like revenues and profits, according to Deloitte’s findings, but also consider the job satisfaction of individuals and teams. Deloitte identifies this shift as embracing a new paradigm centered around human performance, one that emphasizes the value of factors like employee happiness, psychological safety, and growth and development. “New approaches can and should consider the worker as a human being, with a more nuanced perspective on how they contribute to the organization,” according to Deloitte. Even in fields like logistics and manufacturing, where productivity indicators seem most relevant, automation can free up the workforce for other objectives, such as developing “creativity, critical thinking and collaboration” skills, say the researchers. Analysts point to the following indicators that reframing productivity with a focus on human performance is right for your organization if:There’s a narrow focus on output rather than broader organizational outcomes. Leaders feel inundated by data and seek to measure what truly drives success. Despite technological investments, traditional productivity remains stagnant. Workers engage in “productivity theater” to appear busy, but they feel burnt out.If this sounds like your team or workplace, you aren’t alone. When Deloitte surveyed 14,000 business and HR leaders across many sectors in dozens of countries, only 8 percent said their organization is leading in the use of human performance metrics. As tools for capturing workforce data expand beyond traditional metrics like hours clocked, HR teams are discovering solutions that measure collaboration, satisfaction, engagement and more. Deloitte suggests that leveraging new data sources empowers leaders to transition from merely assessing employee productivity to evaluating overall human performance. Thanks to a rush of innovation driven by AI, a new class of HR tech tools offers exponential capacity for businesses to collect, measure and analyze data. Supported by machine learning and human judgment, Deloitte’s researchers say HR teams are in a unique position to convert the data into actionable suggestions. Productivity Abundance through Smarter Collaboration We’re at a stage where hybrid and remote working have moved from being an employee request, to an employee expectation. Business leaders need to embrace this change, making a concerted effort to create a working environment for talent that makes it easy for employees to work together–the key to team productivity and productivity abundance. Failure to do so will see businesses struggle to attract and retain their best talent and they will continue to be at a competitive disadvantage. A recent American study of 1,100 companies carried out by the Institute for Corporate Productivity and Babson College found those that promoted collaborative working were five times more likely to be high performing and producing. Just how much does collaboration increase productivity? The benefits of using AI-powered collaboration tools are real. Collaboration increases productivity abundance by 25% or more. A comprehensive workplace study by McKinsey looked specifically at the effect of improving collaboration through improved internal social tools, so it’s likely that the total effect of collaboration increases productivity by even more than 25%. Employees Value Workplace Collaboration & Productivity Abundance More Than You Think More than 50% of workers in the United States say their jobs are reliant on collaboration. 86% of employees in leadership positions blame lack of collaboration as the top reason for workplace failures. About 75% of employees rate teamwork and collaboration as being very important.   Employees are 17% more satisfied with their job when they engage in collaboration at work.Over the last 20 years, workplace collaboration has increased by at least 50%.Top-performing workers spend 45% of their time working collaboratively. Only 9% of surveyed employees in a Deloitte study reported that their place of employment had very effective sharing and collaboration tools.Collaborating on tasks and sharing ideas is valued at $1,660 per employee each year and that quality improvements made as a result of workplace collaboration are valued at $2,517 per employee each year. (Deloitte) And companies that promote collaboration at work have 5x better performance rates. At the end of the day, focusing on workplace collaboration in the context of the employee experience and a more human-centered collaboration strategy doesn’t just help your people; it also helps the company. An employee who feels connection to others is an employee who is most likely to engage. And an employee who can fully engage is an employee who feels compelled to stay. That means you stave off the risk of the lost productivity that can arise when turnover is rampant or a worker shortage hits. To learn how you can use leverage tools to increase team productivity, let's connect.