Employee retention is one of those things that keeps talent managers and leadership teams awake at night. And for good reason.
The other day I caught a SiliconBeat article about tech worker unhappiness despite the wage and hiring boom we’re experiencing in Santa Clara County—the strongest job market in the nation—with San Francisco-San Mateo area the fifth-strongest. Cities still struggling with unemployment and under-employment might think us spoiled and entitled, but if you scratch the surface and explore why tech workers are feeling restless these days, it might reflect a canary in the coal mine for non-tech workers as well.
Among the key findings of the TINYpulse survey of 5,000 tech workers:
- Unhappy work experience: 19 percent surveyed said they were happy on the job.
- Feeling trapped: 36 percent of tech workers say they see a clear promotion and career path, compared with 50 percent for non-tech employees. Employees don’t see any opportunity for professional growth, either because there aren’t options or they don’t have support from management to pursue them.
- Thankless work: 17 percent of tech workers say they feel valued at work; not only does this reflect someone’s likelihood of whether they would reapply for their job, but could also be a giant red flag that says leaving’s on their mind.
- Alignment with the company: only 28 percent of tech workers know their company’s vision, mission, and cultural values compared with 43 percent for non-tech employees.
- Relationship with coworkers: 47 percent of tech workers say they have a good relationship with their co-workers, compared with 56 percent for non-tech employees.
Let’s take a look at how training and engaging tech and non-tech workers in corporate entrepreneurship could address these key areas while encouraging retention among those employees getting an itch to leave.
1. Give someone a reason to stay: Provide employees with a career path that enhances their existing skills and develops an expertise in a desired area, whether or not it has anything to do with their current job. Just because someone is good at what they do, doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re satisfied in doing it forever. Job satisfaction comes from mixing things up, which is why I’m so fond of two-year rotation programs. Corporate entrepreneurship offers tech and non-tech professionals the means for becoming entrepreneurial thinkers and doers in today's world of disruptive innovation.
2. We all get stale—just at different times: There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes time to reinvent yourself. I’m a “two year marker” person, which means that one year into my current reinvention I’m going through the discovery process for my next reinvention at the two-year mark. Corporate entrepreneurs learn how and when is the optimum time for them to disrupt ahead of their Personal Inflection Curve℠—a process that keeps them rejuvenated and innovation-ready while teaching them how to self-manage their career.
3. New ways to build relationship credibility: Tech and non-tech professionals need to regularly refresh how they communicate and collaborate with others—colleagues, teammates, stakeholders, SME’s, leadership teams, and executives. As more companies look to disrupt their hierarchical structures in an effort to build more fluidity, flexibility, and adaptability into their workplace cultures, entrepreneurial leaders must not assume that the playing field is level for everyone. Corporate entrepreneurs learn the art of being understood as part of their communication strategies. They discover how to leverage digital capabilities that go beyond the skillful use of social media tools and includes, at one end of the spectrum an understanding of digital assets, and at the other end, a capacity for effectively using Big Data in operating the business, developing innovative products, and competing in the marketplace.
4. Transferable skills for wherever you go: Feeling stuck is a mindset. By preparing people to leave, you empower them to remain with you by choice—not by necessity. Transferable skills—getting things done in today’s disruptive business environment—can be leveraged in any industry and within any company. These include skills such as finance, project management, negotiations, communication (analog and digital), marketing, sales and, increasingly, change leadership, organizational management, and corporate entrepreneurship. Employees who choose to leave with these transferable skills tucked into their portfolio are also likely to remain loyal ambassadors for your company.
5. Prepare for a different future: Employees need to see and feel the future alongside their leaders and management teams. Disruption for the sake of disrupting a status quo without it having any real purpose confuses your workforce and serves as a reminder that you are vision-less. It takes courage to prepare people for a future that may not be the one they would imagine for themselves, but one that needs to be faced based on facts and information available today. Corporate entrepreneurs prepare for changing conditions because they understand it beats being blindsided without a backup plan.
We're putting the finishing touches on our newest e-Learning course The Scrappy Corporate Entrepreneur available to Seeding Change members on Monday, August 31. Sign-up today!