In the last blog, I spent some time helping business owners identify the cost of turnover in their organization. If you did not see that post, we discussed the cost of losing and replacing an employee in your organization. As a quick recap, studies indicate that the cost of losing, replacing, and re-training an employee in your organization equates to about 38% of that employee’s annual wages. So, where can we start to improve in our retention efforts? One simple word: Significance.

If you are familiar at all with psychology, you may be familiar with a concept called Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. For those of you new to this concept, this well-accepted theory says that human beings go through a series of needs as they grow as a person. These needs begin with the basics (food, water and shelter) and top out at self-actualization (experience, purpose and meaning). If you look at your own progress through life, you will recognize these stages of your development and progression.

For human beings, the need for significance comes somewhere in the middle of their employment journey. After working with thousands of job seekers in the middle/late part of their career, I can tell you that only two things consistently matter: “Do I make a difference in the world, and will anyone miss me if I weren’t there?” If you think about your own work journey, I think that you will find that after you had achieved a certain level of pay, benefits, and security, your significance to your organization, your coworkers, your customers and your community became very important to you. If that has been true for you, I think we can assume it is true for most people.

So here’s the payoff: People stay when they can see the link between their work and the welfare of others. Those “others” might be coworkers or customers, vendors or the community. Being able to show an employee why their work matters, and to whom, is the first big step in improving retention. People stay where they are needed and valued. That is not some vague generalization or obscure concept. Showing the link between a person’s work, and how that work makes someone’s life easier or better, creates significance in their life and fulfills one of our most basic needs. People STAY where they are NEEDED.

And by the way… if you cannot connect a person’s job to significance… why does the job exist in the first place?

If you are looking for insight or specific action steps to grow a process within your organization to Win the War for Talent, please reach out. It’s my passion to help companies solve their talent issues, whether that is finding the right talent or retaining and developing that talent. With the right processes in place, your organization can grow and thrive even more!

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