Resolved: Increase Retention in 2015

What are your resolutions for 2015? Everyone has some personal ones (“do laundry before it becomes a living monster in my closet” or “quit eating the whole box of Oreos in one sitting”), but do you have any that are work-related? We’re betting you do – and that lots of people on your team do, too.

Like you, your employees took some time to think about what 2015 had to offer them. Maybe they typed a few resolutions on their smartphones, scribbled them on a sticky note stuck to their bathroom mirror, or tucked them into a deep corner of their mind. If you were able to see these resolutions all laid out together, some of them might frighten you: “Submit applications to new job;” “Update resume – have Jess read it;” “Find competitive salary elsewhere.” You know turnover is a natural part of any office, but have you spent time thinking about how to hold on to your top talent during 2015?

You might think there’s not much you can do to hang on to someone who is ready to leave. Or, you might think your company culture is too awesome for someone to want to leave at all! In both cases, you’re missing a critical opportunity to ensure your employees continue to delete those emails from recruiters. We found seven suggestions from First Round Review you can implement to keep the number of exit interviews you conduct low this year. Our favorite suggestions are below – but check out the rest in their article!

Employees don’t leave bosses, they leave visions.

There’s an old saying in hiring that people “don’t leave jobs, they leave managers.” There is little actual evidence to back up this theory. Typically, an employee who has a personality mismatch with his or her boss will work through it until they receive a promotion or transfer. It is far more likely that an employee will leave an organization because they have lost confidence in “the marketability or leadership”1 of their management.

If your best employees disagree with the direction set by management, they will start looking elsewhere. If you have employees who quietly question the choices of their superiors, you should find a new place for them in the company. Your top talent will appreciate your responsiveness to their needs.

How will you learn of these murmurs of unrest? Another great way to improve retention is to provide employees with a “natural” mentorship program that acts as an outlet for concerns. This tends to be far more effective than the rigid reporting hierarchy.

Create a “natural” mentorship program.

At a previous job, I was assigned a buddy whose job was to show me the ropes of the office. We didn’t have much in common, though. All too soon, we were avoiding eye contact in the bathroom (we’ve all been there).

Clearly, assigning new hires to a “buddy” on their first day does not guarantee the effective mentorship you want at your company. These awkward, forced relationships leave both parties counting down the days until they can pretend they just “didn’t see” the request to grab coffee (read receipts really kill our ability to plead the fifth, though. Technology, right?).

So why not try connecting your top talent with those to whom they naturally gravitate?

In contrast to my “buddy” above, I got along splendidly with another young woman on a project with me. She actually laughed at my awesome Excel jokes, and we swapped stories about hating lemon-drop shots (nasty college break-up stories span state lines, apparently). She would have made a great mentor for me. She was able to teach me about the technical nature of the work we were doing and help me navigate the corporate ladder. But, because informal mentorship wasn’t a part of our culture, I was uncomfortable asking for too much advice, much less letting her know when I felt the itch to move jobs.

Effective mentorship is not a silver bullet for retention, but it can help you surface the issues buried in your teams before it’s too late. Mentors can also pass down important skills to your newest team members, empowering both teacher and the student.

Whatever your employees’ resolutions might be for this year, retention should rank highly among yours. You hate doing those exit interviews as much as your (ex)employees. Instituting a culture of fluid mentorship and listening for undercurrents of dissent may be just what you need to keep your top performers in your hallways.

Want to talk about this more? Tweet your thoughts to @aspireperks or shoot us an email at We love to chat about building the best workplaces!

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