How to Improve Retention in 10 Minutes

We all know turnover is costly.  But the costs extend far beyond having to rehire. When you factor in leadership time, loss of momentum, and customer retention, the dollars rise and the impact expands. We also know the younger generation, millennials, change jobs at more than three times the rate of non-millennials, according to Gallup research. Savvy organizations know, you’re only a good as your ability to keep good people.

In our work with high performing organizations, and through our research, we’ve discovered some surprising simple things that can dramatically improve retention. Here are four things you can do in under 10 minutes:

  1. Micro training

Training doesn’t have to be formal or structured.  Half the workforce grew up on YouTube. Sending a link to a Ted talk or asking few good questions by the latte machine IS learning and development.  When we work with clients, we use two-minute videos to train micro skills. Leaders can improve business acumen by sharing examples in casual conversations.  Roleplaying a sales call or customer interactions are other ways to micro train. Micro training delivers live time results, and it demonstrates to your people, I care about your development, and I want to help you win.

  1. Upride, appropriately

Meaningful feedback drives engagement, and it matters more than token rewards. Forget the participation trophies, to make your feedback more meaningful, frame it in terms of impact rather than just pure action. For example, if someone stayed late to finish a proposal, instead of saying, “Thanks for staying late” say, “I appreciate your commitment to our clients. Your work will have a big impact on our client’s success.” It only takes an extra 4 seconds to take your compliment to the next level. Making it meaningful makes it sticky. The person will remember it when you’re not around. It becomes part of how they see themself, and they’ll draw upon it when facing similar challenges.

  1. Ask

Leaders who rank in the bottom 10% in terms of asking for feedback are also rate in the bottom 15% for overall leadership effectiveness according to research from Zenger Folkman. Correlation or causation? Probably both. Asking for feedback, be it about your own style, or how client results can be improved, tells your team their insight is valued. Don’t wait for a formal 360, or a bad Glass Door review, take a few minutes now to ask informally, “How can we, and I, get better?”

  1. Provide meaning

People want their work to have a purpose. A recent internal KPMG survey found, “Of those with managers who talked up meaning, 68% indicated they rarely think about looking for a new job outside KPMG; that share fell to 38% for employees whose managers didn’t discuss meaning.” With less financial constraints, it’s often easier for younger people to look elsewhere as opposed to longer standing employees. But other employees simply do what I call, the quit and stay.  They show up with their bodies, but with no meaning in their work, their hearts and minds shut down. Bringing forth the larger impact of your organization and your work doesn’t take more than a few minutes a week, yet it can dramatically reduce the number of people who start looking to leave.

Retention doesn’t always need a 12-step plan or a three-year initiative to be effective. Sometimes it just takes a few intentional minutes from the leader.