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Avoid Attrition by Elevating Engagement

Change can be good. Variation in our working lives keeps us fresh and is a key part of development for leaders and stakeholders alike. Constant change though, can be less helpful. Even the best of employers see some change in their staffing over time, so what do you do when the normal rate of change errs towards ongoing attrition of staff? 

The Cost of Attrition

While staff attrition is itself a symptom of another problem, it impacts the business in a number of other detrimental ways; such as the cost of recruitment,  the loss of work hours to training time, and the nicks and cuts that are done to staff morale by the lack of personnel stability. It all adds up and it all affects productivity.

The most common reason for people to leave an organisation is that they no longer feel engaged by their role or by the company. Staff move on to do ‘other things’, to ‘try something new’ or face ‘new challenges.’ You cannot keep staff forever, this is clear. It is possible however to improve their longevity within your organisation by actively engaging your them in the work that they do and developing the part they play in achieving the greater aims of the organisation.

The Cost of Engagement

Often the first tactic deployed to try and retain staff is to improve salaries, and while that may work once, it isn’t a sustainable way to solve the problem. Repeated happiness studies show that other factors, such as shorter commutes and an improved sense of worth, do far more to increase employee happiness than salary or bonuses alone. 

It is possible to show enhanced levels of trust, say by home working, offering flexible hours, and generally allowing your people to act responsibly without being watched over.

One of the most common examples of high turnover and a low sense of worthiness is the contact centre environment. Staff are not always trusted to speak to customers in a way that might suit their own personality, instead they are required to follow a script. While scripts can be useful initially, their long-term use takes away any personal flair an individual might bring to their role. Allowing team members the comfort of talking to customers in their own way improves their engagement with their work and removes a barrier between your organisation and your customers. It also allows your teams to feel a sense of mastery over the work that they are doing.

How does your organisation allow its people freedom of expression and what more could you be doing to narrow the distance between workers and their work?

Regular check-ins are also an opportunity to develop mastery and worth in team members. Honesty and the forthrightness to ask people what more they want from their employment might not give you immediate answers, it does provide you with something to work together towards. 

For example, perhaps an individual feels ready to lead a team, and while you might not have an immediate position to offer them, knowing where they want to go will enable you to find ways to engage them. Perhaps they could deputise for the existing leaders when they are on leave, or you can include them in leadership meetings as a senior advisor. 

Doing something that shows you understand what your team wants, even if you can’t deliver exactly that thing, will still have a positive effect on their morale and their sense of worth within the organisation. 

Engaged team members with a high sense of worth still might not stay forever. No matter how long they do stay though, you’ll get better work from them and better work means better results for your customers, and, for your organisation.

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Posted on Wed, December 18, 2019 in Leadership Organisational Development
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