Management Matters: How supervisors and managers can impact retention
By JoAnne Kruse Founder, HCpartners | June 03, 2012
"People don't leave jobs, they leave managers". What role do supervisors and managers really play in employee turnover? Several studies demonstrate the link between management and key behaviors that drive turnover. This article provides a summary of those aspects of turnover and "productive retention" – retention of your most productive employees. Also discussed are those qualities and behaviors that impact retention and are directly attributed to management, and basic solutions to ensure that "People stay because of their job and managers" is a more common truism in your organization.
Most managers understand the detrimental impact that turnover has on productivity, customer service and cost measures. Within certain industries – such as retail and hospitality – there is an underlying acceptance that the hours, rigors of the roles, compensation, and demographics of the workforce seemingly make high levels of employee turnover an accepted cost of doing business. By focusing on such systemic or structural reasons for turnover, the role a manager plays in driving turnover is often minimized. But there is compelling evidence that the truism "employees don't leave jobs, they leave managers" may be a controllable variable in the battle to retain talent.
The hospitality industry has become quite sophisticated in the use of metrics and reporting around key cost areas like turnover. The practice of conducting exit interviews has also contributed greatly to site and organizational-level understanding of common drivers for involuntary turnover. But exit interviews provide a look in the rear view mirror of turnover, and not the perspective of the talent you are looking to retain. A bigger challenge is to focus proactively on why employees stay. More importantly, the question of retention needs to evaluate the decision to stay among top performers, what I have coined "productive retention". In a weak economy it isn't much of an accomplishment to retain talent; what may be more challenging is retaining engaged and high performing talent.
Turnover is driven by many factors, including organizational culture, supervisory and peer relationships, compensation and rewards, and work environment. Supervisors play an important influencing role, particularly in relation to how employees are motivated. Research shows that supervisory actions that negatively impact employee motivation include:
Lack of recognition and reward: the failure of employees to feel fairly compensated, and to receive appropriate recognition for accomplishments.