I was recently asked an executive at a retail organization about her biggest challenge. Her answer? Keeping employees when they only make close to minimum wage.
This is a big issue in multiple industries. If it’s not a matter of near-hourly wages managers deal with, it’s often the issue of being denied permission to increase salaries.
So what’s a manager to do?
The first thing is to realize that higher wages are NOT necessarily what’s drawing people away. In his book, The Seven Hidden Reasons Employees Leave, Leigh Brenham claims that 89% of managers believe that most employees leave for better pay. Yet Brenham cites data from Saratoga that reveals 88% of the time something besides money is the root cause.
So whether you have control to increase wages or not, the key is to understand what IS within your power to control. This is a topic I discuss in depth in my book Ringmaster. The following five tips are ones I cover in the book – and I believe are all essential to retain true talent in the workplace.
- Make Sure The “Talent” Matches The Role. Too often we focus on “skill sets” but don’t really understand true talent. What really drives employees in their job? What’s their “DNA” – their defined natural abilities – and what does that tell us about how they work? Understand this, and you’ll put them in position to be successful and satisfied.
- Define The Role. An individual’s job description on paper rarely tells you what they REALLY do. Communicate with your team to understand how they view their role, and what you expect.
- Build Trust. The “open door” policy may seem like a cliché, but it’s true. You need to invest in knowing your team. This will give you the opportunity to really understand your employees and thereby develop a culture of trust and respect.
- Develop Opportunities. People want to keep working where they feel they have a future. Are you actively involved in finding opportunities to develop their talent and skills? Are you challenging them?
- Consistently Review Performance. Six- and twelve-month evaluations are very common in the workplace, but often exist as misused or misguided meeting of protocol. Try a new “in the moment” review/coaching model. Don’t write down “learnings” that you can tell them about four months from now at their review. Tell them now! It may seem simple, but it happens far too rarely.
Regardless of whether or not you have the power to change someone’s wage, you always have the power to create a work culture they can’t imagine leaving.