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Leadership Creates Engagement

Dec 17, 2009 9:13:17 PM

High Employee Turnover Expected
According to a recent survey from Opinion Research Corporation, an infoGroup company, employers may find themselves with a high employee turnover rate once the job market bounces back. Of those surveyed, 80% reported they would leave their current position if presented with other opportunities, while 25% said they already have plans to leave their current employer once the job market stabilizes. Employees who are most likely to job hop are between the ages of 18-34. The survey showed that only 19% are happy with their current employer.
CCH Aspen Publishers – Dec. 2, 2009. 

Clearly, there has never been a more important time than now to focus on employee engagement.  What keeps employees loyal and committed to an organization?  The answer: enlightened leadership. One of the most common reasons that an employee leaves a company is because of his or her relationship (or lack of) with their direct manager.  When a manager focuses on getting results without regard for those who deliver the results, the climate can become empty and meaningless.  The manager who acts without awareness of  his or her impact can create passive aggressive tendencies, avoidance, defensiveness, and mistrust.  In my experience, no one aspires to be this kind of leader.  But we all have our blind spots, our stress points, and limited time in which to complete our daily tasks.  The bottom line is that the cost to the organization of allowing these behaviors to prevail is extremely high.

If 80% of employees are dissatisfied and 25% are already making plans to leave once the market bounces back, what will the cost be of recruiting, hiring, and training new employees?  My research indicates it will cost 29-46% to replace an existing employee. So do the math, if you take 25% of your salary dollars and multiply that by 30% you have the cost of low team member engagement and dissatisfaction.  And I haven’t even tackled the lost productivity costs associated with the problem.  Of course, we all know that some level of attrition is to be expected.  Even taking a highly conservative approach there are real dollars at stake.

The fact is that this is a costly problem and the window is closing on addressing it.  Developing strong leaders that understand the impact they have on others is essential to success.  The place to focus attention is on the manager.  You don’t have to wait for a formal employee satisfaction survey to assess the climate of your organization.  Observe interactions, listen to the grapevine, or conduct employee interviews to check in and see how things are going.  Some manager behaviors to listen for that create employee dissatisfaction are as follows:

  • Not asking for input or ideas from those who engage in the work
  • Using manipulation, insincere praise, or leading questions to promote one’s own agenda
  • Talking down to people
  • Criticism and blame
  • A lack of care or concern for the people side of management
  • Impulse control issues–flying off the handle unexpectedly
  • Lack of clear expectations followed by frustration at outcomes
  • Breaching confidentiality
  • Self-centered vs. team centered
  • distant and unreadable
  • indecisiveness

At the very least, consider what you can personally do to improve engagement and satisfaction at work.  It will save you valuable time and money.

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Deb Siverson

Deb Siverson is the owner and founder of Xponents. She completed her Masters in Organizational Leadership from University of Colorado-Boulder. Deb is the author of the book, "The Cycle of Transformation: igniting organizational change through the leader coach."

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