6 Ways to Stop Employee Turnover in Its Tracks

April 26th, 2017 Comments off
stop employee turnover

At small businesses, employee turnover is no small deal. Staff sizes are already small, so when one person leaves, it makes an impact on both productivity and morale. As you take the time (and money) to hire and train someone new, the rest of the employees are left must pick up the slack. Instead of waiting for employees to quit, stop employee turnover before it starts. Below are the major reasons employees leave their jobs – and what you can do to prevent them.

  1. No opportunities for advancement. One of the major reasons employees leave their jobs is that they do not see any chance to advance at their current companies. This is especially common at small businesses, where opportunities for upward mobility are few and far between. But that doesn’t mean you can’t help employees create a satisfying career path that meets their goals. (Get more tips for creating a career path for your small business.)
  2. They have no work-life balance. Not only does helping employees achieve a healthy work-life balance help them, it’s good for business. Ask your employees what you can do to ease their schedules and see if you can arrange to let them work from home a few times a month or create more flexible schedules. (Learn more ways to help employees achieve work-life balance.)
  3. They are burned out. Employee burnout is all too common in workplaces where workers are constantly challenged to “do more with less.” When push comes to shove, employees may start to look elsewhere for a less stressful environment. If you think this is the case at your company, there are steps you can take to lighten their workload, reduce stress and prevent burnout, such as helping them prioritize projects and manage their time or bringing in some temporary help.
  4. They don’t get along with their bosses. An estimated 50 percent of workers have left a job “to get away from a bad manager,” according to Gallup research. But what defines a bad manager? In a separate CareerBuilder study, workers who showed the least satisfaction with their bosses said they needed improvement in the following areas: communication style, attitude toward employees, equal treatment of employees and recognition of employees’ good work. Make sure your managers are providing your employees the support they need. Survey your employees to find out where management could improve and take the necessary measures to to fix these areas.
  5. They don’t get along with their co-workers. Just as important as getting along with your boss is getting along with your employees. Research shows a direct link between job satisfaction and how well people get along with their colleagues. Unfortunately, not all companies get along “like family.” Learn the signs of a toxic work culture and, if you recognize them, take steps to eliminate the problem.  
  6. They want more pay. This is a tough area for small businesses, where they cannot always pay as much as bigger companies. If you can’t afford to offer your employees a raise, you may be able to offer perks that can help them save money and help fill the compensation gap. These include transportation and tuition reimbursement, telecommuting options and extra PTO. (For more ideas, check out What to Offer Your Employees When You Can’t Offer a Raise.)

With small businesses, where the HR “team” is often a one-person operation, managing your workforce is no easy task. Consider looking into human capital management software, which can help small businesses automate workplace tasks, making it easier to manage everything from employee benefits, to the onboarding process to background checks. This way, your HR teams are less burdened with paperwork and better able to tend to employees’ needs on a human level, which can have a direct impact on employee satisfaction and retention.

Want to find out how your employees really feel about their jobs? Ask them. Check out The Best Questions for Your Employee Engagement Survey.


How to Take a Proactive Approach to Employee Retention

December 28th, 2016 Comments off
employee retention

Ben Brooks, CEO of PILOT

That faint knock on your office door or that ominous 15-minute “catch up” meeting scheduled on your calendar by one of your star performers. Then comes the news you’ve feared and have been avoiding; they’re resigning. You remain calm on the outside, but inside you panic. Experienced managers have seen this horror film many times, and it usually results in the manager trying to convince or even beg the departing employee to stay. This is both likely a bad idea and symptomatic of a lager people management and employee retention issue.

If you do convince them to stay (likely by offering more money) you’ll be setting up an unfortunate power dynamic. You may have (temporarily) succeeded at preventing them from leaving, but you’ve likely only bought yourself limited time. During this time your colleague will likely have sub-par performance, knowing they were never really appreciated since you only acted once they said they were quitting. Plus, you’ll signal (yes, everyone does talk) to other staff that quitting is how you get a raise and attention. All bad dynamics to create.

Here’s what you must admit: Your best people will eventually leave. If they are great they have lots of options beyond your organization (even if not visible to you), so you need to act as if they are surrounded by opportunities to leave. Second, the labor market is rapidly shifting, both due to changes in talent development strategies at firms (moving from build to buy) and generational preferences. This means that switching companies fairly frequently, once shunned, is now viewed as advancing one’s career without much stigma.

So what do you do instead?

  1. Upgrade them: In short, be proactive and eliminate reasons for your best people to quit. Start by upgrading their job without asking them. Isn’t it a rush when an airline or hotel gives you an upgrade? Give your employees that same sense of importance and delight by engaging them one-on-one to let them know they are appreciated. Reinforce your commitment that they love working for you. Do this by asking about their unmet needs and identifying what barriers they have to doing great work for you. Most importantly, take what you hear and do something about it.
  1. Treat them like customers: Most successful companies do a good job of treating their customers with respect, making them feel appreciated and engaging them in an empathetic manner. Guess what? The same best practices you use with customers work great with your employees. Remember the golden rule – how would you want to be treated if the roles were reversed? Take on their perspective and have empathy when you make decisions and communicate. Show them they’re appreciated by surprising and delighting them, perhaps with an unexpected team outing, a nice gift or even bringing in food. Additionally, invest in their development and growth both with your time – setting clear expectations, giving meaningful feedback, and thoughtfully assigning work that will help them grow, and your resources – by sending them to conferences, on business trips and to trainings.


“An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure” rings true when it comes to employee retention. Being proactive is simply smart business. We all know how painful and costly it can be to lose good people. Yet most companies fail to manage talent attrition as a major risk, as they would cybersecurity or changes in their supply chains. When you know something is a risk to your company, in particular if it is likely, has material impact, and can be mitigated, you do something about it. Your best people leaving should be no different.

As a bonus, when you do prevent attrition risk you get the upside of increased engagement and productivity, literally like being allocated additional headcount to get more work done. Plus, it is far easier to raise expectations of staff and hold them accountable when you have a significant goodwill “deposit” from showing them you care and being thoughtful.

As you start to think about what being a great manager in 2017 looks like, I strongly encourage you to take on the satisfaction and retention of your best employees as a top priority.

Ben Brooks is the Founder & CEO of PILOT, the NYC-based tech startup focused on helping managers retain their best people. Leveraging on-demand and engaging technology, PILOT mimics working with an executive career coach by fusing process and content together into an action-oriented and insightful digital experience. PILOT’s newest invention is called “The Brand Crafter,” an interactive workshop designed to help define and expand your professional brand. Learn more at www.pilot.coach, say hello at hello@pilot.coach, or tweet Ben at @benbrooksny.

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Are Your Employees Planning to Leave in 2017?

December 27th, 2016 Comments off
Person silhouette standing in 2017 on the hill at sunset

Now may not be the time to get too attached to workers. According to a new CareerBuilder survey, more than 1 in 5 workers (22 percent) are planning to change jobs in 2017. Among younger workers, the numbers are even higher. More than a third of workers ages 18 to 34 (35 percent) expect to change jobs in the next year.

Employee retention is critical to the long-term health and success of your business. So what can you do to make workers stay?

When asked what extra perks would make them more willing to join or stay with a company, the most popular choices workers pointed to include:

  • Half-day Fridays: 40 percent
  • On-site fitness center: 27 percent
  • The ability to wear jeans: 23 percent
  • Daily catered lunches: 22 percent
  • Employee’s own office: 22 percent

While you may not be able to offer everything on the above list, below are a few strategies you can use to retain your talent in 2017 and beyond:

Provide a competitive benefits package. You’re competing for clients and for employees. Flex schedules, health insurance and specialty insurance (such as disability and life) make a difference when it comes to attracting and keeping employees.

Create an open and honest work environment. Give feedback on work performed and be willing to listen, really listen, to the concerns of your employees.

Get employees’ input: If you want to keep your best and brightest people, involve them in the decision-making process. Not only will it serve to provide different perspectives that can lead to smarter decisions, it will also boost morale,

Provide productivity tools: Ensuring your employees have access to the tools and information they need helps ensure they can do their job more productively.

Recognize and reward good work: Monetary bonuses are always nice, but recognition of a job well done goes a long way to creating good will and loyalty. The most powerful recognition is specific. For example, “good job” is acceptable, but “good job on the rebrand project” is much better.


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Career Pathing for High-Potential Employees

November 30th, 2016 Comments off
Businessman chooses the right path.  Vector illustration Eps10. Success, career

When you think about ways to increase engagement and boost retention among high-performing individuals, you likely think about raising those employees’ pay, giving them more vacation time or offering more benefits. Though it may not be the first option you consider, however, career pathing could be one of your strongest engagement and retention tools available.

What is Career Pathing?

Career pathing is the process by which managers help employees chart the course of their careers within the organization. Career pathing helps employees envision their career trajectory and understand the steps necessary to move forward in the organization and reach their professional goals.

Career pathing is especially important with high-performing individuals who want to see their efforts pay off, which will help them stay motivated and engaged in their work. Helping high-performing employees create a career path not only helps them reach their potential, it also benefits the entire organization. Consider the following:

Organizational Benefits of Career Pathing

  • It gives you a competitive edge when recruiting. Employees want to work at a company that is willing to invest in their future, and where there is potential to grow. If career pathing is a priority at your company, candidates will take notice and keep your company top of mind when considering their options.
  • It increases morale and productivity. When employees know they have something to work toward – that their work will pay off – they are more motivated, more engaged in their work and, as a result, more productive.
  • It fosters employee loyalty and lowers turnover. When you create opportunities for your employees, they are more likely to stick around to see those opportunities through.

3 Steps to Developing a Career Path with Employees

Like any worthwhile business venture, creating a career path with your employees is often easier said than done. There are many variables to consider – as you want to ensure the career path aligns with your business’ needs – and each career path must be customized to the individual, based on his or her individual strengths and goals. Follow these steps to create a career path for your high-performing employees.

  • Discuss the employee’s career goals. Understanding your employees’ career goals is the first integral step to helping them plan a career path. It will also enable you to align their goals with that of the company’s and explore opportunities to develop these goals within the organization.
  • Put the plan in writing. Career pathing can mean a lot of moving parts, so putting everything down in writing will not only help you and your employees keep track of what needs to be accomplished, it will also help keep you both accountable to sticking to that path. Once you have something in writing, revisit this document once a quarter to check-in, gauge progress, address any concerns or obstacles and make any adjustments needed.
  • Provide the resources necessary to succeed. Help your employees pursue their career paths with the tools they need to move onward and upward. This might mean setting them up with a mentor, letting them shadow other employees or cross-train. Also, be transparent: Make sure they know about other opportunities within the company and feel free to pursue those. Make room in the budget for employees to take classes, get certifications, attend conferences or join professional associations. Consider creating an internal learning and development program. Do what it takes to help your employees thrive – your business will benefit as a result.

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What to Offer Your Employees When You Can’t Offer a Raise

August 26th, 2016 Comments off
'Ideas ahead' road sign

It’s the question every small business leader dreads: “Can I have a raise?” It’s not that you don’t want to grant your employees a raise — especially when they deserve it — it’s that you simply don’t have the budget right now.

If you’ve ran the numbers and there’s simply no way to offer your employee a raise right now, it is best to be honest with the employee and explain the situation. Your employee will appreciate your honesty and be much more understanding if there’s a valid reason behind it; however, it’s important that you give them an idea of when a raise might be possible and schedule a time to revisit the conversation.

In the meantime, there are other perks you may be able to offer to help fill the compensation gap, ease their expenses and show just how much you value their time and contribution.

One-time bonus. You may not be able to offer a salary bump, but a one-time bonus could provide a temporary boost to both your employee’s paycheck and his or her morale.

Flexible schedule. If you can’t offer a raise, consider giving your employee more flexibility in their schedule to accommodate their lifestyle needs. This might mean letting the employees come in earlier and leave earlier – or vice versa. Another option? Letting the employee work four 10-hour days, as opposed to five 8-hour days.

Telecommuting options. Allowing your employee to work from home once or twice a week would not only save them money spent on transportation costs, it would also give them time back in their day, promoting a better work-life balance.

Half-days. If you can’t offer a whole day off or working remotely isn’t an option, letting the employee work one half-day a week can still help immensely with work/life balance. You’d be amazed how much your employee will appreciate an extra four hours back in their week to take care of personal errands, spend time with family or simply regroup.

Extra paid time off. Granting extra vacation time can be a viable option. Not only will employees benefit from the extra leisure time, your business can benefit, too, as employees return from their time off feeling refreshed and re-energized.

Transportation reimbursement. Between the paying for gas, toll fees and bus and train fares, the price of commuting can add up. Offering your employees money back for their transportation costs can help ease some of their financial burdens.

Tuition reimbursement. Show your employee you are invested in his or her well-being and professional development by offering to foot the bill for ongoing training – in the form of workshops, seminars, conferences, certifications or continuing education classes. Many companies offer partial or full reimbursement for Master’s degrees. Not only will your employee appreciate it, the money you invest will directly benefit your company.

Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

5 Signs an Employee Is About to Quit Your Small Business

June 14th, 2016 Comments off
CB_small biz_employee quit

Regardless of the size of a company, the departure of a talented worker hurts. The employer loses a proven asset and must now direct efforts to finding someone to fill the gap. Such loss can be especially hard on small businesses. The dynamic of the whole operation can change as the limited number of remaining team members scramble to pick up the slack, sometimes in areas in which they lack experience.

Small business owners also may take resignations more personally than leaders at larger places. Strong bonds often form in small workplaces, and genuine disappointment can result from no longer having this worker around to help the business grow. The situation can leave the person in charge wondering if he or she “should have seen it coming” and fearing that others may follow suit.

People change jobs for so many different reasons that predicting who might quit and when can be quite difficult. Yet looking for signs that someone may be on the way out and acting on these clues may allow you to possibly influence the outcome. Be aware of these warning signals:

  • Changes in routine. A casual dresser who starts sporting a better wardrobe probably isn’t doing so to impress you. Likewise, someone who suddenly takes longer lunch breaks or calls in sick more than usual may be using the time to job search or interview.
  • Uncomfortable talking about the future. When a usually enthusiastic employee seems disinterested in discussing the company’s growth or becomes reluctant to commit to long-term projects, it may be because she does not see continued employment here as part of her plan.
  • Subpar work. With other opportunities in the works, someone getting close to quitting may not see a need to put full effort into his current position.
  • Exceptional effort. On the flipside (and reinforcing how difficult it can be to decipher behavior), an employee who will soon be on the move may feel obligated to put things in order before departure. He may finish a project much earlier than expected or take time to teach a new skill to a less experienced co-worker without being asked.
  • A milestone. Major events in someone’s personal life can lead to rethinking career goals. Marriage, parenthood, or even having a “big” birthday can precipitate professional changes.


If you notice any of these potential red flags, initiate a conversation without being accusatory. Stress how important the person is to the company and inquire about job satisfaction. At worst, you might confirm your suspicion that the person wants to leave, in which case at least you have a bit of a heads-up. However, your concern may lead the employee to reconsider any current thoughts of new employment. And if it turns out resigning never crossed the employee’s mind, the valuable feedback gained from your discussion may ensure it never will.

Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

How to Retain High Performers in a Hyper-Competitive Market

May 17th, 2016 Comments off
How to Retain High-Performing Workers in a Hyper-Competitive Market

In an era where baby boomers are retiring at a rate of 10,000 a day and the economy is rapidly reaching full employment, recruiting has never been more important. Not only is it critical to find the necessary talent to meet your organizational strategy, but retaining high performers may mean the difference between success and failure.

It’s a Job Seeker’s Market

Finding and retaining quality workers in our current labor market in is the biggest challenge organizations face right now. A CareerBuilder/Emsi study has shown that demand is far exceeding supply in a broad range of fields. With so many job vacancies open, employees — particularly millennials — are not hesitating to switch jobs. Eighty-three percent of new millennial parents, for example, are willing to change jobs for better benefits. The Affordable Care Act has also decoupled health care from employers, freeing many employees from the need to look to companies for security. Finally, speed to hire is becoming even more important. Top candidates will not be on the market for long — often 10 days at most. If a job remains open for an extended period, top candidates may also see it as a poor reflection of your decision-making.

Where Recruiters Are Going Wrong

Unfortunately, the biggest mistake many recruiters are making in this environment is creating a distinction between recruiting and interviewing. Too often, recruiters are so busy determining whether the candidate is the right fit for the organization, and whether they have the appropriate knowledge, skills, and abilities, that they forget it is a two-way street. Just as important is selling the position to the candidate and convincing him or her why your organization is THE place to be. Technological improvements have made it easier to find and locate talent, but closing the deal cannot be ignored. Similarly, job descriptions need to be rewritten to accurately reflect the exciting aspects of the position.

Organizations need to determine what to prioritize in their recruitment strategy. With multiple stakeholders having competing demands, satisfying all groups can be a challenge. Key jobs and job-holders who will be difficult to replace should be at the top of the list. Realistically, positions that are easy to fill will likely be addressed first.

So, what can you do to stay ahead of the competition when it comes to addressing these concerns?

  1. Invest heavily in your employee referral program. With top firms finding nearly half of their hires from referrals, it is critical to not only educate employees on the tasks, duties, and responsibilities of the open position, but also to provide feedback on mediocre suggestions so that the employee has a clear understanding of the type of candidate needed.
  2. Make data-driven hires second nature. It is not just about collecting information, but applying the information in a way that drives change. Use the data you to manage to identify which interview questions provide superior results or which hiring manager determines the best candidate.
  3. Use data to predict the future. Data can also help you identify which employees are more likely to depart the organization.


In “Great Expectations,” Charles Dickens writes:

Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.

Recruiting provides the opportunity to create that memorable link. The challenge is to form it.

This is the first installment in our Expert Recruitment Insights series. Missed John Sumser’s piece on today’s biggest recruitment challenges? Catch up here.


In today’s hyper-competitive labor market, it’s time to get serious about recruitment, and it all starts with creating a winning recruitment strategy. Get the guide.


44% of Workers Have Gained Weight at Their Current Job

April 11th, 2016 Comments off
weight gain

The office candy bowl. The free after-meeting leftovers. The inactivity of sitting behind a desk for eight hours. It’s no surprise that workers across the U.S. feel like they’re packing on the pounds on the job.

According to a new CareerBuilder survey, 55 percent of U.S. workers believe they are overweight, and more than 2 in 5 say they have gained weight at their present job.

Workers say the top contributors of their workplace weight gain include:

  • Sitting at the desk most of the day – 53 percent
  • Being too tired from work to exercise – 45 percent
  • Eating because of stress – 36 percent


Some employers have taken notice and have put wellness initiatives in place to promote healthy office living. Still, while a quarter of employees (25 percent) have access to such employer-sponsored wellness benefits, including onsite workout facilities and gym passes, 55 percent of this group does not take advantage of them.

What Does This Mean For You?

Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder, says that while workers are becoming more health conscious, high-stress work environments and longer workdays make it difficult for employees to find time to act on their wellness goals. So, the onus is on employers to encourage workers in their pursuit of a healthier lifestyle. “To make wellness at work a priority, companies should emphasize its importance from top leadership down and focus on engagement, motivation, support and strategy when implementing new programs,” Haefner says.

Doing so will only lead to better employee morale – and give workers more of a reason to stick with your company in this increasingly competitive market.


5 Ways to Retain Great Workers During Mergers and Acquisitions

June 22nd, 2015 Comments off
5 ways to retain great workers during mergers and acquisitions

When large organisational change happens, it isn’t surprising that employees first think, “What does this mean for me?”

This happens everywhere and in every company, regardless of where employees sit in the organisation. And a merger or acquisition is probably the largest, most uncertain organisational change a company (and its employees) can go through. So how do you give people a sense of purpose, create as much certainty as possible, and retain as many of your people as possible?

Well, as I come to the end of the second year of a complex merger, here are the things that I’ve observed make a real difference in a company’s ability to retain workers.

1. Visible Leadership.

Your leadership team is your biggest asset — but only if people have access to them and can see how they’re reacting. And whilst they will also be feeling uncertain, it’s your job as the HR pro to make sure that they have a private space to express that rather than expressing it in front of the people they’re supposed to be leading.

2. Transparency.

Perhaps the most overused, but underdeployed management practice. You’ll be surprised how capable your employees are of dealing with the things you want to “protect them” from. You don’t have answers to everything? That’s ok; just let people know that.

3. Keeping the Trains Running.

Development courses, internal recruitment, annual events: You’ve got to keep these things going. They’re gold dust for reassuring people that some things aren’t changing, and that you’re still concerned about their careers. If you can, turbo-charge these things and make them stand out even more during a big organisational change.

4. Cutting Quickly.

If you’ve got to make cuts, changes, or restructure, then do it quick and be honest about it. People are expecting change and they won’t believe you if you say it’s not coming. It’s Elastoplast management. Slow pain is big pain.

5. Explaining Why.

If you’ve been working on a big deal for a while, it probably makes complete sense to you. But the people around you are trying to catch up. Why is the deal happening, what is the benefit and what does the future look like? Don’t think you’re going to have to communicate this just once, either. Repeat and repeat until you’re blue in the face.

Finally, we hear so much about the need for HR to add value, and a major change is your chance to show that you can. If you have something coming up, go and talk to a fellow pro who has been through it. Ask them what they did that worked and what they’d do differently. Because I guarantee they’ll have something to share.

Throughout the rest of June, our talent advisors will continue to dish out their best advice on effectively managing your talent and helping them thrive. Learn how to stay ahead of these HR trends, and learn why old-school metrics are vital to tracking recruiter performance.

How to Determine Which HR Data Matters

March 11th, 2015 Comments off
workforce data

I may sound a bit old-fashioned in saying this, but I’ve seen HR evolve dramatically over my career. It is great because if our field doesn’t evolve, then we will cease to be relevant and useful to our companies. An area where we continue to experiment in being effective is around data.

Most of the HR data you hear about is functional and irrelevant. We use it to justify our existence more than we use it to move the organization forward. We spend hours on reports to make sure we note the ROI of each endeavor, the cost per hire, turnover ratios, etc. Honestly, those are HR report cards. Without a context, they remain stale numbers on a spreadsheet.

Another trend I see is that we measure the negative elements of our organizations. We have perfect attendance awards mixed with layers of attendance records tracking, which measures whether people come to work or not. Performance management software measures what people aren’t doing more than what they accomplish.

As a talent advisor, you can turn data around and show how the work of HR contributes to the bottom-line of a company. It’s a challenging shift to do the opposite of what you’ve been doing, but the outcomes are well worth it.

When you understand that the entire organization works from a data standpoint, you will see that it’s important for talent advisors to speak from this perspective, too. Remember, you are a business person first — you just happen to practice HR. If you don’t approach your role in this manner, you will always be relegated to the sidelines, and you won’t be able to impact the company.

To break the trap of traditional HR measurements and data in my company, I decided to gather and develop data that matters.

Retention, not turnover
For instance, my organization measures retention and not turnover. That’s a metric that matters to our leadership team. We gathered the retention data by taking a snapshot of our current employee make-up across all locations and positions. After six months, we captured another snapshot to see what had transpired and how our retention looked. It revealed that we continue to have a great deal of work to do to improve where we currently stand. Probably just like you.

The difference in my approach? I gathered data that mattered to the COO and CEO. I collected important data points and showed our leadership team not only how we were made up, but the movement of our employment status across both our locations as well as each role that was in every location.

After sharing the data and researching the trends and best practices on retention strategies, I presented an approach to see how our hiring, onboarding and training practices could improve. The goal would be to see our retention increase across the board. And I linked our HR endeavors to business objectives. If we can save time and money by hiring fast and better — and linking our hiring practices to things like guest satisfaction surveys — everybody wins.

Talent advisors must tie the HR data they have to the business needs. Just throwing numbers against a wall to say you generated beautifully crafted minutia is a waste of time. So take a look at the data you currently work from and ask yourself if it is truly addressing a business need. Is it another curtain of HR justification? Change your direction and only provide data that matters.

At the end of the day, relevant data is the only thing that your senior management team wants to see from its talent advisors.