Many of our company’s clients are increasingly focusing on the metric of “net hires.” While recruiting is critical to any growth strategy, it must be coupled with outstanding retention strategies if growth is going to materialize.
There are very few tricks and gimmicks that produce long-term success in the quest to retain agents. If you’re not providing an environment that offers real value, cracks will develop in your proverbial bathtub and water runs downhill.
Today’s topic assumes you have a great bathtub and you’re doing the work of keeping the cracks from developing. Here’s reality--even under the best of circumstances, good agents will sometimes become disillusioned and leave your organization.
The question for today: Can those agents be saved if you were given enough warning of the impending departure?
Yes. They can be saved, but only if you have enough time (usually several weeks) to solve problems and address issues that are causing the disillusionment.
How do you get advanced notice that someone is going to leave your organization? Several years ago, the researchers at the Huntsman School of Business (Utah State University) started putting thought into that question and came up with some surprising answers.
[Gardner] was surprised when his research showed, for example, an employee who starts taking more vacation time, punching out at 5 p.m. every day and looking at outside openings on company time, is not necessarily someone who is about to leave.
Gardner discovered, however, one thing most employees had in common before they left was that they began to “disengage” in the workplace.
Here are a few examples of subtle but consistent behavioral changes people often make in the one to two months before they leave their job:
They offered fewer constructive contributions in meetings.
They were more reluctant to commit to long-term projects.
They become more reserved and quiet.
They became less interested in advancing in the organization.
They were less interested in pleasing their boss than before.
They avoided social interactions with their boss and other members of management.
They suggested fewer new ideas or innovative approaches.
They began doing the minimum amount of work needed and no longer went beyond the call of duty.
They were less interested in participating in training and development programs.
Their work productivity went down.
Gardner said if employees were demonstrating at least six of these behaviors, his statistical formula could predict with 80 percent accuracy that they were about to leave the organization.
So think about this: If you can detect one to two months out a person’s tendency to leave your organization with 80% accuracy, this information could significantly improve the retention percentage of agents on your team.
With this type of foreknowledge, you’d have time to probe for the irritations the agents are experiencing, uncover obstacles that are causing them to lose focus, and solve problems before they become deal-breakers.
How could you execute a system that would make use of this research? For starters, you could create a simple scorecard that allows you to rate each agent on a scale of 1 to 3 (never, sometimes, frequently) for each question.
Then color-code (green, yellow, red) your agents w/ a probability of staying in our organization. Those agents receiving a score of 24 points or higher should probably be marked as red. Those are the ones that need your attention.
Gardner sums up his research by saying,
“It appears that a person’s attitude can create behaviors that are hard to disguise,” he said. “As the grass starts to look greener on the other side of the fence to you, chances are that others will soon notice that you’ve lost your focus.”
Become proficient at detecting that loss of focus, and you’ll head off retention problems before they become your realty.