According to reports from the US Department of Labor and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average tenure of an employee in the United States hovers between 1.5% and 5%. Why is tenure so low, and what can be done to encourage employees to stay, and even grow with a company? In the Forbes Magazine article “Six Reasons Your Best Employees Quit You”, three of the six common reasons that employees leave companies are lack of vision, no connection to the big picture, and no future. The good news: all three can be fixed with a few strategic changes made by leadership to create fertile grounds for employee growth.
The first step in encouraging employee growth is creating vision. Many companies don’t understand the purpose of a vision, and even more have not crafted an effective vision statement. A vision statement defines the company’s purpose and brings the goals to life. For example, if you have an apple cart, the vision is not simply to sell apples (although this is the purpose.) Selling apples doesn’t inspire people, but biting into a crisp, juicy apple every morning as part of a balanced diet provides vision and inspiration.
Composing the Big Picture
No matter how clear the vision is, to promote employee growth, employees must understand where they fit into the big picture. In order to build that picture, you must help each employee answer three questions:
Do I agree with this vision?
What is my role in this vision?
How will I make this vision a reality?
To revisit our apple cart, there are several roles: the owner, the farmer, and the salesperson. Without any one of them, the apple cart would not be as successful. If the farmer tried to sell the apples, or the owner tried to plant an apple tree, they would struggle. It’s the job of leadership to ensure all employees understand the vision and to help them be successful in their roles.
Building the Future
To help each person be successful, a good leader builds employee skills so that they have a clear path to the future. There are three types of leadership team development that are critical to your business. First, establish open communication. All employees should understand what’s expected of them and be comfortable sharing their expectations with leadership. Second, leaders should meet with every employee individually and often. In some environments, it’s appropriate to meet every day. This can be a simple checkpoint or a more formal meeting, but it’s an opportunity to touch base. In other environments, it might be better to meet weekly or monthly. Regardless of frequency, having a designated time to speak individually is key as leaders, and their teams, develop.
Training and Development
Training is the final puzzle piece in team development. By this point, the leadership should know both the roles and goals of their employees, and training is the opportunity to enhance them. Whether an employee wishes to continue to improve in his current role or is interested in learning a new skill – leaders can use training to help employees develop those skills that let them see the future, both their own and the company’s.
In today’s dynamic workplace, it’s more important than ever to spend time cultivating an environment that encourages retention and growth. To do this, it’s critical that leadership invest time in building an effective vision, help employees see the big picture, and use effective team development to lead employees toward the future. By following these simple steps, you can sow the seeds for success in any environment.