Feeling safe: A key to employee retention

This post by Diane Stafford in the Kansas City Star includes several good tips on creating a positive corporate culture. Two caught my attention.

The first tip is to interview colleagues who sat next to the person who just quit. The theory is that many employees will not tell us the real reasons behind their departure, but their colleagues know. If we truly want to get better and prevent more exits, it’s worth asking.

This suggests that leaders should also ask similar questions before employees leave. Questions such as:

  • Are you enjoying the work that you do?
  • Do you have the resources necessary to do your job?
  • Is there an area of interest related to your job that you would like to explore?
  • Any thoughts on what this organization could do to strengthen its purpose?
  • What would you like to be working on in one year, three years?
  • What pressures do you feel at work that inhibit your performance?
  • What are the things that we currently do that you think we should stop doing?

The second tip is to “make employees feel trusted, respected and recognized for their contributions.” I would add one more concept, closely related to trust: make them feel safe. Employees who don’t feel safe work for their benefit, not that of the organization. And when this state of jeopardy lasts too long, they leave.

When we ask the questions listed above, we demonstrate that we care for our employees. In turn, they feel safer and are much more likely to stay with us and help us thrive.

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