The Secret of Employee Retention is Actually Pretty Easy

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What is the one single thing that employees hate more than anything else?


Bar none, “change” would rank as the most disliked thing that a company can do to its employees. I know, I know; all of you reading this are really progressive – you love “change,” you embrace “change,” you’re “change” advocates.

Yeah, right.

The people who say they “embrace change” are the same folks who go into a deep depression when their favorite TV show is cancelled.

The secret of employee retention

Change, for most people, sucks. People like what they know. They like knowing that they’ll stop at the same place each morning to pick up their morning coffee and that Joe behind the counter will know they like it with low-fat milk and one sugar.

They like knowing that the doctor they’ve gone to since they started with you right out of college is in your insurance plan and they can keep going to that doctor. They like knowing that their check will always be deposited into their bank account on the first and third Friday of each month.

No. Matter. What.

And that is the secret of Employee Retention.

People! Your employees don’t actually want to leave your employment! Starting a new job, in a new location, working for a new boss, whatever — it all sucks! It’s major change! Your employees actually want to stay with you; they just don’t want their job and the company to suck. So, you change! And change causes them to what? Ugh. This is hard.

Change fails because of communications

So, how do you keep your employees without changing?

Most change fails because of the communication. This is especially true in so many HR shops, because we tend to over communicate and over complicate minor changes with major communications!

We are implementing a new payroll system that will save us time and money, but in doing so, paychecks will now be deposited on the second and fourth Friday of each month. OMG! Our employees are going to freak out because they are used to the first and third Friday!

This. Is. A. Major. Change. We need a committee. We need posters and wallet cards. We need changes to our policies. We need to have a six-month transition period where we will communicate this over and over. We need to … stop.

Make it simple

What you need is a simple message out to the troops: “Hey all — payroll is getting a great new system. We’ll have fewer errors and save the company a bunch of money. We’re happy we could get them some really good technology for their function. Checks will now come out on the second and fourth Friday of each month. Plan accordingly. Let your supervisor know if you need some help in this transition. This will go live next pay period.” Bam!

People don’t like change, so don’t maximize change that doesn’t need to be maximized! If you only communicated truly “big” change and it clear that “big” change happens rarely, it doesn’t seem like change is happening all the time.

Your employees WANT to stay with you. They HATE change. Stop making them feel like change is happening all the time just so you feel like you have something IMPORTANT to do.

Employee Retention is easy, simply because deep down, your employees really don’t want to leave.

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.