How to make your best employees leave, in 5 easy steps!

Christophe SintubinUncategorized

The’resignation of our best employees’, has become a familiar and recurring agenda topic on many board meetings. Interestingly, most executives know how to avoid this happening but for some reason it takes very long to anticipate or even to respond to this occurrence.  

Is it because executives have become too sensitive and don’t want to hurt the feelings of their peers in the meeting? Or is it because the high pressure for all managers prevents them to give this topic the right attention it deserves? 

Either way, for some companies the lack of response has become so obvious that I’ve started to wonder whether it isn’t left alone with a particular purpose. There could be a strategy behind it, who knows?

So instead of pointing out the pitfalls on how to avoid the loss of talent, I thought I’d give a few tips on how to speed up the exit process:

 1. Hide your Corporate Culture and Vision    

Masking your culture and vision

Employee engagement is a direct result of your company culture. In a study by Towers Perrin, engagement – or lack thereof – can be directly related to employee turnover. 

66% of highly engaged employees reported that they had no plans to leave their company, compared to 31%, of disengaged employees who are actively looking for new work.

With ¾ of your workers being Millennials within the next 5 years, and the percentage of GenZ’s growing as well, a clear vision, leadership and culture will even become more crucial in defining the retention rate. 

And even with excellent leadership on board, you can still scare away your people by not sharing your vision for the future or by not investing in your corporate culture. 

While a first step is to put your vision and culture on a piece of paper, you also need to promote it.  Over the years, I’ve worked with several companies that had a corporate vision and culture drafted but didn’t really communicate on it.  If you want your employees to not see their future in your company this is exactly what you should do.  Pretty soon they will leave you in droves.

2.     Settle for mediocre management

Even your best employees aspire for a role model – someone they look up to and will be loyal to.  If they don’t have a just good manager, but a real leader that inspires them, they may be very likely to stay.

But there’s no need to worry just yet. Chances are that most of your managers aren’t inspirational leaders by nature. And becoming a good manager takes time, skill and experience.

Last year, TinyPulse wanted to know how employees feel about their direct managers and they analysed over 25.000 employees around the world. They found that employees who rate their supervisor’s performance poorly are four times as likely to be job hunting. Additionally, the study revealed that “40 percent of employees who do not rate their supervisor’s performance highly have interviewed for a new job in the last three months, compared to just 10 percent for those who do rate their supervisor highly.”

Simply put, poor and mediocre management ruins your retention rate. Excellent!

New development and challenges

3.     Avoid room for growth or development

Top performers become disengaged when they aren’t being challenged at work. They thrive on working towards goals and being pushed outside of their comfort zones. 

Also for other employees, you need to offer the right learning and development facilities: 36% of workers and nearly half of millennials would consider quitting a job that didn’t provide learning opportunities 

Businesses with a strong learning culture enjoy employee engagement and retention rates around 30-50% higher than those that don’t.

By not offering any development program, you will undermine engagement and ultimately motivate your team to look for the nearest exit.  Your clever top performers will find that exit long before the others do, as you can imagine.

4.     Focus on Recruitment only

Recruitment and talent acquisition

Survey after survey finds recruiters and employers complaining about the hiring difficulties in the current market.

As it seems, this is not linked to an exceptional number of open vacancies.

In the past decades, we’ve had several waves with higher or similar percentages of job openings.  Yet, according to Harvard Business Review, recruitment has become more difficult because of 2 different reasons:

1)    Focus on external hirings: where we used to fill many positions through internal promotions and lateral assignments, we are now looking outside our organization for new talents.  And since we’ve become very picky on candidates – ‘hire talent and experience, so we don’t have to teach them any new skills’ – screening and hiring numbers have gone up dramatically.

2)    Additionally, we’re hiring from our competitors and vice versa, making the turnover of people even higher compared to previous years.   

In other words: since HR is trying to keep up with the hiring of new people, they’re not quite focused on keeping the already hired talent aboard, while the latter is heavily solicited by headhunters from outside. It seems like a battle that cannot be won, and thus a good way to get rid of your talented people.

5.     Drive up workload without compensation

Huge workload, piles of paper

Knowing how to balance workload and remuneration is key.

Being overworked is the top reason employees quit, especially top performers. When you have a high performing employee, it’s easy to fall into the pattern of giving them extra work. And there’s a fine line between extra work and overworked .

While it may not always be what attracts workers to a new opportunity, money is a second major reason why workers quit their jobs.

You should definitely consider that your most talented people know what they are worth.  And while they may accept a higher workload, up to a certain level, they expect the right compensation to come with it.

Hence, simply increasing the workload without proposing an adequate Compensation & Benefits plan is a very effective way to scare off your current workforce.

To conclude: These 5 steps will make all the difference in turning around your company and ensure the most productive and talented people will leave your company within a very short time frame.  Now, in case my conspiracy theory proves to be too far-fetched – you never know – just add the word ‘not’ before each of the 5 steps. Then make sure you follow all five of them and you’ll do just fine!