Employee Turnover - 1 April 2008
Employee turnover comes down to just one simple word: commitment. And we only need to look at the ultimate commitment of the world's longest marriage to really see it in action.
In 2005, Percy and Florence Arrowsmith (from Britain) celebrated their 80th wedding anniversary, a world record at the time. The following are their responses when they were asked for their secrets to a happy and committed marriage, and how these can be adapted to create a happy and committed workforce.
Saying "yes, dear": Percy said he often used the phrase "yes, dear" to keep Florence happy. At work, we don't use "yes, dear" enough. We'll come up with reasons why something can't be done rather than trying to find a way to make it happen. We'll dismiss employees' ideas, use negative language, and criticise employee wrongs more than we recognise their achievements. Instead, say "yes, dear" more often.
Never go to sleep as bad friends: Florence says that they've always gone to sleep with a kiss and a cuddle. There's something powerful about being a manager and apologising for a mistake. There's something admirable about dealing with issues as they arise rather than saving them for a performance appraisal. There's something great about asking for feedback on how you can improve your managerial skills.
Hard work: Both Florence and Percy agree that it's taken a lot of effort to maintain their loving marriage. How much effort are you dedicating to your employee relationships? If you're spending more time on operational tasks than with your team, or if you're not going out of your way to support your employees, or if you're not working as hard to achieve your employees' objectives as you are your own, then you're not putting in enough effort.
Understanding: Florence and Percy made it a mission to truly understand each other. At work, we get frustrated when our employees don't see things our way, when they fail to comprehend instructions, and when they don't grasp the importance of what we're saying. But, as Dr Stephen Covey says, in order to be understood, we must first seek to understand. If you don't have an intimate knowledge of your employees' thoughts and goals, then you don't really understand.
It's a coincidence (and a shame) that we're living in such a disloyal age where half of marriages end in divorce and many companies are struggling with employee turnover. And in both cases its because we've forgotten the art and the magic of commitment.
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