A Manager’s Role in Employee Retention

Published On: March 2, 2022Categories: Employee Retention Articles
employee retention manager

[Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes from Sharlyn Lauby, president of ITM Group and author of the blog HR Bartender.]

Employee retention doesn’t belong to one person or entity. Organizations play a role in creating programs to improve retention. HR departments are often responsible for monitoring retention (i.e., turnover). Even employees have a role in retention in that they should provide feedback to the organization about the employment experience. And of course, a central role in employee retention is the manager.

Gallup reports that managers are responsible for 70% of the variance in engagement. This means that organizations need to provide managers with the training and tools to contribute in a positive way to employee retention.

Here are five activities that can help managers with employee retention:

  1. Make the connection between manager behavior and the candidate experience. It’s not a surprise that it’s a candidate’s job market right now. Organizations must be responsive and flexible to attract and hire the best talent. Managers drive a lot of that process. If organizations can’t hire anyone, they won’t be able to retain anyone. It sounds incredibly obvious (and it is) but sometimes we forget the connection between the candidate experience and the employee experience.
  2. Create a strategic onboarding experience. In a Korn Ferry Futurestep survey, 98% of executives said that onboarding programs are a key factor to employee retention. While HR is traditionally responsible for orientation, the new hire’s manager plays a big role in onboarding. Giving managers tools – like an onboarding dashboard – could help them manage the onboarding process more effectively and reduce the number of activities that are potentially forgotten. If organizations want employees to stay, then managers need to deliver an excellent onboarding experience.
  3. Provide managers with training. And encourage them to develop employees. According to LinkedIn’s Workforce Learning Report, 94% of employees say they would stay with a company longer if it helped them learn. Learning doesn’t have to be lots of formal classroom programs, but it does need to be targeted to an employee’s needs. To align learning with job performance, managers and employees should receive training on how to give and receive feedback. Managers and employees can exchange feedback during a one-on-one meeting about what’s going well and how much support the employee needs to achieve their goals.
  4. Perfect the one-on-one meeting. Speaking of meetings, one of the most common ways to discuss performance and goals is through regular one-on-one meetings. Performance is important to organizations. So, managers and employees need to talk about it. But this is also a time to gather feedback from the employee. Managers could include on the agenda a couple of stay interview questions like “What do you enjoy about working here?” and “If there’s something you would change about your job, what would it be?” The answers to these questions could offer insights into employee retention.
  5. Use a structured offboarding process. You might be asking yourself, what does offboarding have to do with employee retention? More than you might think. The way employees leave the organization is a signal to current employees about how the organization values them. If employees leave with respect, it sends the message that employees are valued. And remember, it’s always possible that a former employee might want to return or refer someone.

There’s a very old saying that “employees don’t leave jobs, they leave managers”. Maybe on some level, it’s true. Managers play an essential role in the employee experience, which means they have a responsibility in employee retention. Giving managers the tools – training, technology, and support – to do the job well will benefit the employee, the company and the manager.