Build an Engaged Team with Staying Power

Turnover is high and costly.  A study by the Society for Human Resource Management states that employers spend the equivalent of six to nine months of an employee’s salary to attract, identify, and train their replacement. So that means that an employee salaried at $100K will cost the company $50-$75k to hire and train a replacement.   Do I have your attention yet?

According to research from Willis Towers Watson,  1/4 of your current employees are at a high risk for turnover. Many of those people could be your top performers, or have potential to become top performers.  Costs of new hires aside, this is a cohort of employees whose presence won't be easy (and in some cases impossible) to replace. The best strategy is to avoid losing them in the first place.

But wait, you’ve been doing so much work around improving retention—you installed that new foosball table in the breakroom, brought lunch in 3x a week, created a meditation/quiet reflection room, implemented Bring Your Dog to Work day, and even upped your 401k match—so why aren’t all these great perks making an impact on your retention numbers and turnover might be increasing? 

It could be that your focus needs to shift

Here’s what we know from research done by Gallup Corporation from their annual Engagement survey: 70% of American workers are not engaged in work.  WOW.

Employees, while they don’t mind and might even like many of the great perks you are offering, these aren’t the factors that will keep them. The elements they are looking for are fit, culture, and work/life balance compatibility.  Here’s what they said:

·       60% want the ability to do what they do best

·       53% want high Well-Being—balance in career, social, financial, physical, and community

What Can You Do?

One proven way to significantly impact your retention is to take a Strengths based approach.  Strengths based organizations allow employees to fully contribute by creating a stage for them to do the work they do best.  When you have someone in the wrong role or make them focus on tasks that are not natural strengths—it’s painful for you and for them—and they are likely to leave sooner rather than later. 

Gallup’s research shows that when your employees can utilize their strengths they are 3x happier than those who are not, and people that are able to use their strengths at work are 6x as engaged.  Strengths based workplaces also experience an average of 29% higher profit—quite impactful.

The recent report on performance management from Gallup states that “companies are shifting from traditional performance management practices to a new approach that focuses on performance development.”  In this new world order, managers create an ongoing dialogue about performance that is individualized to the needs and unique talents of each employee.  Strengths is the common language that enables the conversation between employee and manager to be development focused.  While focus on weakness prevents failure, focus on talent creates strength. 

Let’s look at a real-life example…

Let me start by telling you that my Top 5 Strengths are:  Communication, Strategic, WOO, Positivity, and Input.

In my annual reviews, year after year and company after company, several of my leaders would make time to discuss my areas of strength, as well as my areas of development.  My strengths would look like my top 5 list— “good at building relationships, developing strategies, finding ways to get things done, and strong business acumen”.  And for my weaknesses or “areas of development” it would look like this: “need to further develop analytical skills—learn how to better uncover issues by digging into the numbers and identify trends and problems.” 

Being someone who wants to do my best and strive hard to perform well, I took the area of development to heart and worked at it.  Year after year, I worked to develop my analytical skills:  I took classes at Kellogg, found mentors, read books, and spent hours poring through reports and spreadsheets.  And I did improve……. incrementally.  In financial speak, I’d call it an increase of a few basis points.  This improvement might be considered good when dealing with billions of dollars, but isn’t so great when you’re talking about something that your leader wants to see marked improvement in.   Guess where analytical ranks on my strengths stack ranking?  #29 out of 34.  So, while my analytical skills have improved, they are never going to be one of my top talents and I will never be great at it.  Instead, partnering with someone who has superior analytical skills is a great partnership for me—and hopefully they need some of what I have. 

This is where the team strength approach comes in and pays huge dividends.  Each person gets to do what they do best and respect the strengths of others on the team.  The team partners together effectively to become a strengths based team and achieves great results

To learn more about how to make your team a Strengths Based team—check out our website at