A combination of low unemployment and high expectations from applicants mean it's harder than ever to secure leading talent. The situation also makes it especially painful to lose a top-performing team member to a competitor. 

Unfortunately, the sting of losing these star players has become an increasingly familiar feeling for Procurement and Supply Chain leaders. Gallup suggests American businesses are facing a "crisis of engagement." In its most recent Employee Engagement survey, the organization found that a whopping 87% of American employees are not engaged. 

Even more troubling, they found that high-talent employees were just as likely to feel disengaged as their struggling peers - just as likely to feel disengaged, and just as likely to quit. 

When an employee - particularly a high-performing one - decides to walk, it's always a stressful time. Worse still, the process of off-boarding and saying goodbye is rarely a transparent one. Employees who will freely, constructively air their grievances on the way out are as hard to come by as world-class resources.

We asked Source One's supply chain recruiting expert, Andrew Jones, why his candidates say they left past positions. He also offered some thoughts on how businesses can change things up to keep their most effective employees engaged and productive.

1. No Opportunity to Grow
"Truly world-class candidates," says Jones, "don't view professional development as a series of escalating salaries. They're hungry to mature in their role, embrace new opportunities, and serve their organization as a valuable resource." He's right to suggest that advancement trumps compensation for many professionals. Gallup's most recent engagement survey saw 32% of respondents identified a lack of opportunity as their reason for calling it quits. That's 10% more than cited salaries.

Veterans and emerging professionals like want to know they've got a voice. It's important for managers to devise and communicate career paths. With regular check-ins, they can display their level of investment and ensure top performers are moving through the ranks at the appropriate pace.

2. No Flexibility
"It's often tagged as entitlement," Jones remarks, "but employees expect a healthy work-life balance and a schedule with built-in flexibility. More than half of employees told Gallup they would switch jobs to improve flexibility." Whether it's providing opportunities to work remotely, customize schedules, or take paid time off - a small concession to employee happiness and well-being often goes a long way.

3. No Recognition
"Here's another one that's often mislabeled as entitlement." Jones continues, "I think that's way off base. There's nothing wrong with expecting recognition for a job well done." Star performers and struggling employees alike want reminders that they're valued. These reminders don't have to come in the form of pay raises or other expensive incentives. A simple public thank you is generally enough to let your team know you care.

4. Toxic Company Culture 
Jones says it's not just toxic bosses who push employees out the door. "A negative workplace can manifest itself in needless competition, cliques, and other kinds of office politics." Businesses that let toxicity get out of hand may as well be encouraging their top performers to jump ship. "I've certainly heard some stories," Jones says. More often than not, a bad workplace culture is also one where transparency is discouraged. This means no one is offering feedback and no positive changes are getting made.

Making the necessary changes to retain and engage talent will take time and effort. Even sweeping reforms, however, won't take as much of your business as losing your most promising talent. Where to start? Why not consider administering a survey to your team to gauge their engagement. "Honest feedback from your team," Jones suggests, "will provide the most effective path toward better engagement." Why wait?
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