According to recent Department of Labor statistics, the average tenure of a U.S. employee is less than two years – a short 18 months! Even in a climate of business uncertainty and a relatively high unemployment rate, Alan Hall, a Forbes contributor, has found that more than 2 million Americans are voluntarily leaving their jobs every month.
The cost of hiring and training a new employee can be anywhere between 25 and 200% of their annual salary, so the cost related to replacing even low-level employees can be a tremendous burden on businesses.
The Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council discovered that replacing a supermarket cashier (making just $6.50 per hour) cost the average business $3,637. Further, the Sasha Corp, an HR consulting firm based out of Cincinnati, OH, says the average cost of replacing an $8-an-hour employee varies between $5,000 and $9,000!
When it’s in the best interest of the company to keep the employees they have already invested time and energy in, it’s important to take a hard look at the reasons employees quit and what general counsel can do about it.
Why Employees Quit
Experts agree that the top 5 reasons employees quit their jobs include the following:
Lack of trust – one of the primary reasons employees leave their jobs is the fact that they no longer trust their management.
Insufficient recognition – employees often call it quits when they don’t feel appreciated or recognized.
Confusing internal politics – arguments that expose internal politics to employees often cause confusion and doubt among the ranks of worker bees.
Crappy bosses – workers dislike bosses for a number of reasons – taking their ideas, micromanaging, undercutting their achievements, and more.
Inflexible working conditions – many workers have responsibilities outside the workplace that cause them to leave when they cannot be resolved with their job.
One of the most telling signs that an employee is about to quit, according to Bloomberg Businessweek is that they stop complaining. Essentially, they stop complaining when they realize their energy is better invested somewhere else – as in sending out resumes.
What can in-house general counsel do to stop the mutiny? Take a look at the following recommendations.
1. Establish an Environment of Trust
If your company’s hiring and interview process is known to give a hard sell on the benefits and perks only to take those away once the employee is hired, that bait-and-switch tactic is fodder for an employee quitting and filing an ex-employee lawsuit.
Setting the tone and establishing an environment of trust means getting all managers and human resources staff on board. Not only should the benefits and perks be established in writing and made transparently available to all employees, any changes in those benefits should be announced well in advance and discussed openly with the employees. When an employee understands that a change is needed and why that change is made, they’re less likely to want to cut and run.
2. Recognize and Diffuse Political Spats
As in-house general counsel, it’s important to recognize internal political spats and diffuse them as quickly as possible. Internal politics have no business making it into the public arena, where they could spark a public relations nightmare; nor do they have any business erupting as a scene to be viewed by employees who can become confused by the wrangling and reconsider whether they should trust those at the top of the corporation.
Ensure that your managers know they have the power to abolish negative politics that are causing pain and frustration among the troops. The job of general counsel is to identify the issue, declare it unacceptable and empower others to cease and desist. Your team wants to know you’re establishing a culture that does not include disruptive politics and this norm is non-negotiable.
3. Empower your People
Employees tend to thrive when they have greater control over their work schedule and are given a sense of ownership and ability to make decisions that allow them to accomplish their work with fewer approvals and checkpoints (read less intervention and oversight). Sure, it can seem to some managers who like control that they’re losing control, but giving the employee the opportunity to solve problems in an innovative way is key.
Empower your managers, and subsequently the employees, to make every employee an ‘organization of one’ so they can increasingly become their own boss without having to leave the organization. Every organization has the ability to allow individuals to accomplish their important goals in a more flexible way and when your team knows this is the norm, job satisfaction can dramatically increase.