3 Principles to Retain Talent
10.9 million. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, that is the number of job openings in the United States as of the end of July. To add fuel to the fire, there are 4.9 million more people than before the pandemic who are currently not working or even looking for work. Then consider that 3.6 million people retired during the pandemic, and 2 million more are expected to leap into retirement. No wonder nearly 90 percent of the 1,200 employers surveyed by SHRM reported a lack of people to fill open positions, and 73% stated the application rate is declining as well.
At SRC, it is no different. We have hired more than 600 new employees across all divisions within the last few months, and we still need more people.
But why the shortage? That is a head-scratcher for sure. More than likely, it is a combination of many things—a perfect storm. You really can’t point the finger at one specific thing that is causing it.
One thing is for sure. It has caused businesses to think differently about their people. The Great Game of Business has said it for years - People are your greatest asset. Invest in your people, and they will invest in you. That’s easier said than done, right? Yes and no. It’s not always easy, but it is simple.
Recently MITSloan Management Review analyzed a total of 1.4 million employee reviews. The purpose of this study was to determine what matters most to employees. They narrowed the reviews down to around 150 topics, with 10 bubbling to the top.
MITSloan Management outlined it this way:
3 Basic Principles
Being a Great Game™ company is more than being open-book. Many people think of The Great Game of Business’ founder, Jack Stack, as the father of open-book management. Open-book management IS at the core of what we do but worthless without education, accountability, and reward. The whole idea behind The Great Game of Business is to create an environment in which people are learning all the time. They’re seeing all kinds of situations. We’re showing them both sides of every story, allowing them to make decisions, to fail with any incorrect decisions they make, and to learn from their failures and try again. The Game sets people up for success through education, involvement, and opportunities for rewards—improving their financial position and their quality of life.
From this core belief, The Great Game of Business emphasizes three Core Principles - Know and Teach the Rules, Follow the Action and Keep Score, and Provide a Stake in the Outcome. These three core principles address all ten items on MITSloan’s list of things that matter most to employees.
Breaking it down:
# 1 & 8 - Employees Feel Respected and Learning and Development
According to MITSloan’s report, “The single best predictor of a company’s culture score is whether employees feel respected at work. Respect is not only the most important factor; it stands head and shoulders above other cultural elements in terms of its importance. Respect is nearly 18 times as important as the typical feature in our model in predicting a company’s overall culture rating, and almost twice as important as the second most predictive factor.” At The Great Game of Business, core principle number one is Know and Teach the Rules. It’s imperative that you educate employees about the business so they begin to think like you do - an owner. To do so, you must focus on:
- financial transparency and education
- planning with your whole team
- measurable goals
What better way to show respect to your employees than to trust them with understanding your business - I mean fully understanding your business. This form of learning and development builds leaders who understand individually and as a whole what it takes to increase the bottom line.
#2 through 5 - Supportive Leaders, Leaders Live Core Values, Toxic Managers, and Unethical Behavior
These factors are not new to employees, but I believe that employees have become more vocal about their desires and now more than ever can bounce to a new employer when these needs are not being met. This brings me to core principle number two - Follow the Action and Keep Score. Empowerment is a powerful tool. I don’t mean the empowerment of management, but the empowerment of all employees. When an employee feels trusted, and you empower them to make decisions that are in the company’s best interest, you will see amazing things happen.
To do this, you have to begin with the right leadership. Your leaders must be:
- supportive leaders willing to let go
- lead by example
- be open to new ideas from ANYONE
It all begins with a genuine belief in people and in fostering mutual respect and trust. Regardless of how you currently lead, going “open-book” requires you to reflect on not only your style of leadership but also on how you will develop others as your organization grows. We’ve identified core beliefs and characteristics shared by the most successful Great Game leaders through the years.
Great Game leaders believe the following:
- If I don’t inform my people, someone else will.
- Given the opportunity, people want to learn the business.
- Provided the education, people can learn the business.
- Given the trust, people will make the right decisions for the business.
- Given respect, people will contribute to the success of the business.
- People should share in the rewards they help create.
Great Game leaders share these characteristics:
- Humility—“I don’t have all the answers.”
- Vulnerability—“I’m willing to ask for help.”
- Servant leadership—“I’m focused on the needs of the team and the company, not my own.”
- Courage—“I’m ready to open up and release control.”
The beautiful thing about being transparent and leaning on your employees to drive results is that toxic managers self-opt out - toxic people in general self-opt out. People such as these cannot thrive in a company that practices The Great Game of Business. Most importantly, unethical behavior is not possible when a company is fully transparent because you can’t hide it in the numbers.
# 6 & 7 Benefits and Perks
Outside of the world of not-for-profit, I don’t know anyone that works for nothing. No matter how much you love your job, you want to be fairly compensated for your time and efforts. Our third principle is to Share a Stake in the Outcome. We strongly believe that those working to achieve the overall goal, what we call the Critical Number, should be fairly compensated, not just with their pay, but also with an equitable bonus structure that is self-funded - everyone or no one bonuses.
We also believe in perks for employees. But when we talk about perks, we are not meaning having a cappuccino machine in the office - although that is always nice. What we are referring to are earned perks - MiniGameTM non-cash rewards, to be specific. I could go on and on about MiniGames, but if you haven’t read about MiniGames yet, I suggest reading this blog next. The best MiniGames effect a change in a system, process, or behavior that will stick long after the MiniGame is over.
# 9 & 10 Job Security and Reorganization
Lastly, job security and reorganization have been a long-standing concern for anyone employed. Have you or have you known of someone that shows up to work to do their job, just to find out that their place of employment has gone belly up or they reorganized the company and their services are no longer needed? That is a hard pill to swallow.
Probably one of the most relieving parts of The Great Game of Business from an employee’s perspective is seeing into the future. If a company is following these core principles, you see well ahead of time the pitfalls that can lead to lost jobs. At SRC, one of the key hiring principles is you are hiring for life when you hire someone. If you are careful to educate, empower and engage your people, then a person leaves your company because of their choice - career advancement, a family decision, etc. - not because of layoffs and downsizing. Even during the pandemic, of the Great Game Companies surveyed, 99.9% of all jobs were preserved through the crisis.
Does your company have a plan in place to retain talent? We would love to hear what you are doing, so we can all grow and learn together. Would you mind commenting on suggestions companies can do to ease the war for talent?