You probably have heard that job hopping has become the new normal.  A recent study indicates that 82% of US workers are open to new jobs.

There is also a prevailing notion that employees will stay for only a few years and that higher salary is the only reason they leave. When you dig into this, however, the truth is somewhat rosier.  According to the US Bureau of Labor statistics, employees are now staying longer with their employers than they used to. For example, in 1983, the average tenure was 3.5 years, then in 1998 it was 3.6 years, and in 2014 people stayed 4.6 years.

Maybe the loyalty we remember with some nostalgia – the employee who gets a gold watch after 30 years of service – is a thing of the past. Still, most employees aren’t joining a company with a goal of leaving it two years later.  They might be ready to stay longer and contribute. BUT (and this is a big but), they will stay if their needs are met.  What needs are we talking about?


  1. want to feel valued,
  2. want to grow their skills,
  3. need a sense of purpose – they want to contribute to something bigger than themselves.

The bottom line is that expectations have changed – people want more from their jobs.   If the job becomes the place where they grow – learn, contribute and have a sense of achievement – they may want to stay longer. As well, although salary is important, salary expectations are just one factor – and usually not the most important one – of several that keep someone in a job (or prompt them to leave).

Consider your own company.  Are your best employees considering leaving?  How would you know? They might be.  While not all departures can be stopped or avoided many can be at least postponed. If you can postpone a good employee’s departure by a year or two, this individual can contribute even more, maybe even pass on some skills or knowledge to others.

Knowing who might be at risk of leaving is certainly important.  But perhaps an even bigger question is: Are your managers doing what they can to retainpeople?  Are they tuning into their employees’ needs?  Are they, for example, identifying new challenges and fresh assignments instead of having employees do the Same Old, Same Old tasks?  Are they providing recognition for good work?   And – an even bigger question perhaps – are you providing your managers with the support they need to retain people – the training, coaching, tools and good role modelling that being good at retention calls for?  If your candid answer is, “We can do a better job in supporting our managers”, or, “I am not really sure if our managers are doing a good job when it comes to retention”, now that could be cause for alarm.

If you want to do something, where do you start?

Why not get out of your office and talk with Jim about what he is learning from his project and what you and he might do together, so he can learn something valuable from the next stage of the project?

Retaining people doesn’t have to be a big or expensive undertaking – it’s done through conversations where you pay attention to your employees’ needs.   But it does take regular work.  You can’t water your tomato plants once and expect tomatoes to magically appear.  You need to nurture employees the same way, day in and day outWhen was the last time you thought about what Joe or Linda want from their jobs?  When was the last time you helped them take a small step to achieve their wishes? If it has been a while, here is what you can do today.

Have a short conversation with Joe or Linda that leads to the next step in their development, then see what happens.  You have not only taken a crucial step to help this person develop, you made an investment in them. These small actions will help them become an even better contributor to a company that is on its way to significantly improving its performance!

If you would like to help your managers develop stronger retention contact us. We can help!