Managers need to recognise early warning signals

Retention is quickly becoming a major concern for organizations of every size and in every industry and most companies are now putting retention on that list of main concerns.
Unfortunately, putting retention on that list of main concerns and doing something about it are 2 different things. It is very important that Organizations have a strategy around this and work around it. However, the first step would be to have a clear understanding of why the employees are leaving. In the recent past more and more companies are seeing the advantages of Outsourcing their exit interviews

Implementing an effective early warning system in place is also an effective measure to improve retention. While some organizations have similar practices in place they also admit that it is not being used effectively.
For most employees, attrition is a planned and well thought through activity. These employees will always show signals and it is up to the Managers to recognise them. These signals are normally displayed before the employee submits the resignation and disengagement on an average starts 3 months before the employee actually attrites.Tweet it! Being able to identify these signals puts the organization in a much better position to address the areas of dissatisfaction if any.
These warning signals can typically be classified under 2 categories, behaviour & communication.

Behavioural signals will include:

  • Dip in performance and a lacklustre attitude towards work
  • Increased instances of absenteeism or seeking leave
  • Disengaged from what is happening in the team and low levels of participation in team activities
  • General negative attitude
  • Can be found speaking on the phone inside closed rooms 😉
A lot of employees express their concerns to their managers or their colleagues. The examples could include:

  • “I’m finding it very difficult since my mother is unwell and I have to travel from Bangalore to Chennai every weekend”
  • “I have bought a new house and I’m finding it difficult to manage with my present salary”
  • “I don’t feel like I am learning anything here”
  • “When they hired me they explained my role differently”

These discussions could either happen in a formal 1on1 environment or it could be during lunch at the cafeteria. Irrespective of when the discussion happens it becomes very important that the Manager recognises it. Being aware of these early attrition signals will enable managers address issues with potential attrites when a warning sign first occurs. In some cases the senior manager should also be involved in having a discussion with the employee as the problem could lie with the immediate manager too.

Thrashing out issues early is important since by then the employee hasn’t started looking out and does not have another offer on hand. Having regular interactions with the team members and really knowing the team will enable managers to identify these signals. Having a good early warning System will reduce employee turnover and will improve employee engagement significantly.

The success of any Early Warning system will involve 2 components, design & implementation. Most organizations fail in the implementation process as their managers don’t read and recognize early warning signals. Tweet it!