A critical part of growing any business is hiring the right people — and then keeping them.
After you get good employees on your payroll, your challenge is to keep them — the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that the number of “quits” has risen for 10 years in a row, going up by 1.8 million to reach 42.1 million in 2019. And although every situation has its own unique factors, there are a few strategies any leader should apply across the board to decrease the odds of workers jumping ship.
- Pick the right people
The “right” person for the job isn’t always the one with a great pedigree from an Ivy League college or the person who’s got a bunch of certificates to brag about. I care way more about whether the candidate has a proven track record and has demonstrated in real life that they can get it done for their team and me. And that really comes down to whether they are applying a lot of information from different disciplines to their area in a tenacious way.
But the right person is more than a walking bag of skills. They’re also happy. Happy people are easy to work with. Their can-do attitude is infectious, and they inspire other people to figure out how to make everything work.
So make sure that the experience and knowledge a worker has can transfer well into the goals you have for the future. They should be able to give some examples of previous success. And by hiring someone who’s naturally or consciously more upbeat, it’s going to be much easier to build a culture where everyone supports each other and stays in the game.
- Onboard incredibly well
Good onboarding needs to happen quickly to accommodate a competitive, rapidly shifting market, but you still need to take your time and train your hires thoroughly. They should come out of the process with a clear understanding of what their responsibilities are and how they’re supposed to get things done. This will let them connect with their team better and really perform at their best for you right away.
On the other side of this, if you’re going through the onboarding process and you see that the hire just isn’t going to make it, don’t beat around the bush. It’s much better to be honest, have that tough conversation in a kind way and find someone else to open doors inside and out.
- Lean on three core values
The three core values that apply really well to worker retention are radical transparency, extreme ownership and complete honesty.
Radical transparency is all about everyone knowing exactly what’s going on. This is more than just communicating across all levels and explaining yourself. It’s also about trusting them to take whatever you communicate to them or whatever is happening and make good choices. It’s about trusting them to get results and believing that they’ll show you their progress when they should. People are people, not mushrooms, and they don’t deserve to be left in the dark.
This connects to extreme ownership, which is just taking clear, absolute responsibility for everything related to the job — and maybe even some things a little to the right and left of the job, too. The employee’s reward for owning what they do usually is the greater freedom to explore creatively and be flexible. So by picking the kind of person who can claim both wins and mistakes, you actually encourage innovation. And most people who earn your trust through good responsibility realize they’re in a fun game. They enjoy their work more and are more willing to stick around because of it.
Lastly, complete honesty means you don’t pussyfoot around. You tell it like it is every single day, evaluating constantly rather than periodically, because ultimately that’s more respectful to everybody involved. This way, the employee knows exactly what they’re doing right or wrong or how to do better, and they don’t end up wasting your time by acting like a square peg in a round hole.
When you lean on all three of these values, you end up with a great relationship with workers who are both coachable and courageous. You don’t have people denying or resisting the reality between the company and them, and people can grow in really positive ways.
Retention is far more about how you treat people than the specific perks you throw at them. From the very beginning, you need to look for happy people you know can deliver. And once you find those people, you need to bring them on board in a way that leaves them confident and clear about what to do. And, if you stick to radical transparency, extreme ownership and complete honesty throughout this whole process and beyond, you’ll have a trust-centered, authentic relationship that’s stable and fun for everybody.