How the Best Managers Keep the Best Talent

by Marcianne Kuethen
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There’s a secret to how the best managers keep the best talent. It may surprise you to know it has nothing to do with expensive perks or cash bonuses. It’s all about celebrating employee anniversaries.

Quitting Spikes at Each Anniversary

In a study of over 1,000,000 people, says Amy Gallo of Harvard Business Review, researchers discovered a startling trend. Of the people who changed jobs, the highest number did so within their first year…and most of them quit right on their first anniversary. This trend continues, in decreasing numbers, with subsequent anniversaries as well, as you can see from the table below. Whether it’s because of contract terms, vesting schedules, or just the mindset that comes with completing another year, the study showed that employees are more likely to jump ship at their anniversaries. This is a crucial fact when considering how the best managers keep the best talent!

Jumping Ship Year by Year

Anniversary YearNumber Who Quit
148,000
234,000
311,000
48,000
55,000
63,000
72,000

Expect Employees to Be Job Seekers

The longer an employee stays with you, the more likely they are to stay. However, while Baby Boomers tended to have 11-12 jobs in their lifetime, Millennials are expected to hold from 15-20 jobs in their lifetime, says Gallo. This could be attributable, in part, to the climate created by the current candidate-driven market. Prior to 2011, the labor market was employer-driven, and workers who changed jobs too frequently were negatively branded by recruiters and employers as “job hoppers.” But a dramatic change occurred between 2011 to 2015 that shifted the power to job seekers. As a result, workers can change jobs more often today with fewer consequences.

How the Best Managers Keep the Best Talent

How the best managers keep the best talent hinges on understanding the labor market. The fact is, as candidates continue to be in demand, companies are relying less on cash bonuses or silly perks, and focusing more on providing rewarding, meaningful work for their employees. Gallo also adds that some companies are starting to offer sabbaticals or adopt policies that allow former employees the option of returning after they’ve taken a break.

However, the best take-away from the survey, and perhaps the easiest to accomplish, is to celebrate your employees’ anniversaries. The research proves that anniversaries are when some internal clock starts ticking a little louder. But don’t stop there! Celebrate your employees’ birthdays, their victories (both professional and personal), their new car, their new baby or puppy or house, their Alaskan cruise, or whatever comes along. Give people a trustworthy organization, place to belong and share life. Celebrate your employees! That’s how the best managers keep the best talent.

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