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BFS Capital Blog

Tips for Preventing Staff Exodus

January 17, 2014

The first Monday in January isn’t just a day when, still struggling with holiday hangover, we frantically consult our calendars for the next Monday holiday-three-day weekend. If you haven’t heard, it’s also widely seen as “national job hunt day,” with millions hitting the job boards in search of a better gig. says that online job searches jump a whopping 40 percent from December to January. And yes, some of your employees are looking, too—even some of your best. Want to stop the march to the exits? You need to do two things:

    • Understand the real reasons employees are looking for new jobs; and
    • Take action—now! reports that the typical employment tenure is now less than five years. Then employees start looking…but for what, exactly? We all want more money: There’s no getting around a good salary increase. But as it turns out, post-recession job changing is really more about other things. Forbes cites results from executive advisory firm CEB’s quarterly Global Labor Market research in 2012, involving 50,000 employees. The number one thing employees are looking for in new jobs? Job stability. Yep, and it wins out over some other pretty important workplace characteristics. CEB reps say this signals a change from wanting to work for the “next big thing” where you can bring your dog to work to wanting to work for a more mature, established company—a business with a plan. Here are CEB’s top five things employees are looking for in new jobs:

    • Stability
    • Compensation
    • Respect
    • Health benefits
    • Work-life balance

But nothing about the workplace is static, so expect these findings to keep changing. With an improving economy come employees who are increasingly empowered. They want more of everything, while a couple of years ago, they would have settled for less. Look for expectations and demands to increase, along with growing numbers of employees who will change jobs to get them met. One thing that doesn’t look like it will change soon is the rising importance of work-life balance among both sexes, all age groups. This isn’t about working less; it’s having flexibility and control to get the work done more or less on one’s own terms and integrating it into other daily activities. Part two of the “stop the exodus” equation is addressed on the HR blog by contributor Erika Lucas. While Lucas acknowledges that employees will always come and go, she also says that it’s increasingly up to employers to invest in and engage employees to prevent an exodus, especially in January. Lucas suggests five ways to stop your best staff from heading for the door:

    • Share the vision. Employees need to see how they fit in and contribute to achieving the company’s goals and objectives.
    • Give regular feedback. Structured performance appraisals are great. But it’s the routine “checking in” and feedback that often tells employees even more about how you think they’re doing. This kind of feedback is pure motivation.
    • Talk in terms of careers. Sure, there are no guarantees, and it’s important not to over promise. But who doesn’t need to know that there’s something bigger and more challenging beyond their current role?
    • Focus on development. It’s not lost on employees that when you provide training and development opportunities, you are making a real investment in them. This, too, is a big motivator for sticking around.
    • Show employees you value them. Not feeling recognized or appreciated is a big reason for changing jobs. So don’t overlook opportunities to demonstrate to employees that they’re valued, even if it’s a simple thank you.

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane /

Do you actively take steps to retain your employees? Please share your ideas and experiences!