“Managers are important, but aren’t the biggest reason why people leave”: Culture Amp’s Christian Miran weighs in on the mistakes that drive away star employees

company culture

Your business is only as successful as your people; it’s a sentiment we hear time and time again.

Last year, SmartCompany research revealed that 67% of business owners admitted to making mistakes when hiring. Given the potentially devastating impact that hiring the wrong person can have on a small business’s bottom line — not to mention the immeasurable cost of missing out on a superstar employee — that’s a concerning statistic.

In this Q&A piece, Culture Amp’s director of people practices Christian Miran busts common myths about employee retention and offers advice on how you can attract and retain the best talent to drive and grow your business.

Your business is all about employee feedback. What do you know employees are looking for in an organisation?

At Culture Amp we help companies build great workplace cultures by measuring how engaged people are in the company and helping them act on employee feedback. Engagement is a measure to determine how willing people are to stay, how motivated they are to perform and how proud they are of the company.  

Using this information we know that in Australia there are few key drivers for what keeps people engaged in the company. Three of the biggest drivers are:

  1. “I have confidence in the leaders of [company]”;
  2. “[Company] is in position to succeed in the next three years”; and
  3. “[Company] is a great place for me to make a contribution to my development”.

Hear more from Culture Amp’s Christian Miran about hiring and keeping the right people for your business at SmartCompany’s free breakfast briefing on 13 June in Melbourne.

What are the top things that employers get wrong when it comes to employee retention?

In my experience, one of the things that employers try to focus on to prevent people from leaving is to increase the number of incentives or rewards that they offer in the hope that the employees feel rewarded.

The classic example of this is where an employee attempts to resign from the company and the manager attempts to save the person from leaving by offering them an increase in pay. In rare cases I have seen this work to retain the employee, however, most of the time the employee is leaving due to another more significant reason than just salary.

They may feel that they are going to learn something new or they will have a new level of making decisions in the new job that they aren’t getting in their current role.

In the book Drive, Dan Pink refers to three factors that he believes drive motivation: purpose, mastery and autonomy. Finding ways to address these elements in your retention strategy will be a better approach then just trying to up the monetary rewards to your employees.

Another common myth out there is that “people don’t leave companies, they leave managers”.

Jason McPherson, the chief scientist from Culture Amp, recently posted an article about this myth and highlighted some interesting results. The article highlights that people are more likely to leave companies that don’t provide them with good development opportunities and strong leadership.

Managers are important, but aren’t the biggest reason people leave.

Is there any way back from employee dissatisfaction?

Absolutely! We believe that listening and opening the feedback channel to your employees is a great way to start to address a dissatisfied workforce. Often this is a first step for employers who have never asked for feedback before.

What’s the key to turning around a business with dissatisfied staff?

Once you have identified what the things are on people’s minds that might be causing them to be dissatisfied, [the next step] is to action their feedback. Employers can get stuck by having too many other things to do and feeling that they need to do a lot of things to keep people retained.

We believe in the value of picking a single focus area when addressing employee engagement and starting with small wins.

By focusing on one thing and saying to your employees, “we have heard you and here is the first thing we are doing about it”, is extremely powerful way of engaging your team.

NOW READ: Culture Amp co-founder Didier Elzinga on why you should be telling a great startup story


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