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Will your employees stay for years?

In the last edition of my newsletter, I shared 5 strategies to build a career you love, which is a proactive approach for us professionals to take charge of our careers.


Perhaps at the back of your mind, you’re also wondering, what can organizations do so employees will stick around for years?

Though job hopping is often thought to likely occur for millennials and Gen Z, a CNBC article clarifies this misconception by saying that “Every generation job hops in their youth in the search for the right career fit, and some data suggests that millennials are job hopping at a slower rate than their previous generational counterparts at the same age.”


There will always be employees who will be in constant search for something better, but what can managers and HR leaders do to minimize or maybe leverage this?


Before we get into the HOW, let’s first understand WHY this happens. 


After working in corporate for more than a decade, more than 600 hours of coaching (mostly on career-related topics), facilitating employee sensing focus group discussions for about 100 employees across multiple industries, and facilitating DISC Behavioral Assessment Sessions for more than a hundred professionals, I would like to share the following key observations….


People have different needs


Though there are basic things we all need such as food, shelter, water and acceptance, each person has a different need to fulfill. There are those who constantly seek challenges and changing environments, and there are others who would find joy in a more predictable and repetitive work environment.


People change over time 


As professionals experience different types of jobs or even tasks through time, this builds a greater sense of awareness of which ones they are good at, enjoy doing or would never want to do again. Not to mention, they would also have their changing goals and priorities – children to raise, a retirement fund to build, a healthier lifestyle, etc. 




I’m sure most of you know these two things already, but the question is, what are you doing about it? 


“Knowing is only half the battle,” is a slogan displayed after every GI Joe cartoon back in the 80’s. 


How can you turn this knowledge into something useful to make your employees stay? 


In both formal and informal conversations I’ve had with leaders and employees who stayed for more than a decade, I found that their companies or at least their managers have been responsive in terms of acknowledging their unique and changing needs. 


Here’s what made them stay and what can make your employees stay too.


Make opportunities available


Don’t you just love it when you’re in a shopping mall that has everything you need? 


Supermarket, toy store or play area for the kids, salon, bookstore, coffee shop, and your favorite clothing brands. As a parent who only has a few hours on weekends for both errands and entertainment, I’d definitely choose a place where I can get all or most of what I need. That means I don’t need to make multiple trips to different places!


You can think of careers the same way. When there are opportunities available internally, whether through long-term or short-term roles, employees will most likely stick around and explore. You don’t have to create new positions to make them stay, but you can create opportunities through short term projects or give them room to design how they would want to do their work.


Got limited resources? Here are some tips that can help.


Build trust


A working environment without trust would make both managers and employees feel like walking on eggshells and with 24×7 surveillance cameras! But I get you, I know it’s not that easy to build trust especially when the other party has messed up or performed poorly before. So take it a step at a time and start by getting to know each other in simple and informal ways. Have coffee together, ask them about their hobbies, and show appreciation. 


When there is trust, employees will feel safe to share their needs and aspirations, and managers will be more comfortable and willing to share opportunities that are available. Be that manager to whom your employees can say,  “I’m grateful you took a chance on me.”


Make learning a norm


Learning opportunities aren’t just limited to training programs. In my current field of work for example, I have to seek out training myself (not to mention, fund them myself too!). Though the different projects or engagements I have, do not give me free access to learning platforms, I stick around pretty much because of the wealth of learning I get through actual experience on the job, and through the people that I work with (mentors, peers, etc). 


But learning doesn’t just happen by chance. Managers must be equipped to ask the right questions and to facilitate meetings and debrief sessions to draw out learnings and support the team in thinking critically and creatively. 


According to Darwin’s Origin of Species, it is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself. 

– Megginson, ‘Lessons from Europe for American Business’, Southwestern Social Science Quarterly (1963)


Are you ready to adapt so your employees will stay?


With challenges not only in employee retention but also in talent attraction, more and more organizations are finding the need to be agile. 


Like I wrote in an article for HR Katha, building an agile organization takes more than just acquiring skills, tools and processes. It involves building a people-centered culture that ignites passion, supports innovation and leverages on diverse strengths. 


Your employees are your greatest resource. But unless you’re able to tap into the best they are capable of, they will find other ways where they can shine and thrive. 


Join me in “Control Less, Enable More: How to Bring Out the Best in Your Team” an interactive online workshop on August 26, 10AM  and learn how you can better support your employees so that they’ll stick around. Limited slots, so register now.



Thanks for reading this edition of Career Agility Newsletter. Please share your thoughts and insights in the comments section below!


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