In October, 4.2 million Americans quit their current jobs.  They left for new opportunities because they didn’t like where they worked. This is a persistent feature of the current American economy.

67% of American workers don’t feel fully engaged where they work (Gallup, 2017).  Survey research continues to confirm that a majority of American workers feel underappreciated at work.  80% believe they are not thriving at work (Spreitzer, Porath, & Gibson, 2012). These are record rates true every single year across all the public, private, and non-profit sectors for the last decade.

Sure there’s normal attrition but that’s not what’s happening here.

People who can’t lead say things like, “That’s just how it works now” but that’s not true. They don’t want to look at themselves.

They don’t want to admit the problems with their work culture which sends talent out the door – the mediocre or poor leadership, the lack of a true team, the bad hiring and promotions, the micromanagement, the absence of opportunities to learn, innovate, and grow, and the missing and meaningful performance feedback.

Employees know employers aren’t truly invested in them. Loyalty is a two-way street.

Retention of talent improves performance, productivity, culture, teamwork, customer relationships, revenue, and saves time and money.  Turnover costs organizations in a multitude of expensive ways.   Retention of talent is a major competitive advantage today.  Why would you want to recruit and invest in talent for your competitors?

This should be a top priority for leaders in the private, public, and non-profit sectors.  First, collect and analyze the data.  Identify why talent comes to, stays, and leaves you.  Measure employee satisfaction.  Pay close attention to what employees say during hiring, onboarding, at work, and in exit interviews.  Retain magnets and remedy repellents.  Seek to become a model employer.  Research employers before you accept employment.  The #1 reason talent leaves is an unacceptable difference between what the employer promised and the actual reality of working there.

America can have the capital, technology, skilled workforce, etc. but until American employers truly learn how to attract, grow, and retain motivated and talented members of their team, we will see the same recurring and record rate of employees headed for the door.


From the Teacher: Leadership Lessons with Dr. Saviak is a weekly column with the esteemed Joseph C. Saviak, Ph.D., J.D., M.A., M.S., Management Consulting & Leadership Training.


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