Recruitment, Retention, and Engagement – Part 2

Sandext Enterprise had a serious problem with employee retention, especially among college graduates. The average time with the company for new college hires was just over two years. Salaries and benefits were thought to be the problem, but improvements in both of those had minimal impact.

Madison Hudson, the CEO, had asked her HR department to meet with employees as they resigned to see what their reasons were for leaving. Those meetings provided little insight. Then Hudson thought of a different approach: “Why don’t we talk to employees who have stayed with us and find out what they like about their jobs?”

The results of the discussions with existing employees were must more insightful. The HR department captured the quotes from the interviews to present to the CEO.

Abby:    My first assignment was to do a 5S project in a work area. Working with the employees, we made a real difference that I see every day. I’m so glad that my boss chose me for this assignment.

Greg:     I feel like I’m really challenged. The first day I arrived, my boss and I met to discuss what I wanted to achieve in my career. So far he has provided me with those opportunities.

Andy:    I really value the feedback I’m given even though sometimes it’s tough. My boss can be very demanding, but I feel her feedback is always fair and I’ve really benefitted from it.

Ashley: I really value culture. In my area, everyone works together. I was warned about corporate politics, but I’ve never seen that as an issue.

The interview quotes continued in the same vein. The HR department summarized the insights into a series of bullet points:

  • Employees want to be challenged and feel like they are developing as a professional.
  • Employees are looking for a boss who is demanding, but also their champion. They need feedback.
  • Employees want to feel like they make a difference, even if it is small at first.
  • Employees want to be in a cooperative work environment.
  • Employees want an appropriate level of responsibility.


As Hudson thought about the report, she had some questions.

MH:       Were salaries, benefits, or our recognition programs never mentioned?

HR:         They weren’t. In fact, we’ve noticed that there is some grumbling about the recognition programs. Employees don’t want to feel like they are competing against each other.

MH:       Based on these quotes, I don’t know why we have a retention problem.

HR:         There’s good news and bad news. The good news is that there are no systemic issues in the workplace driving resignations. The bad news is that all of these quotes were from young professionals in two areas of the company with two bosses. Our resignation problems are in other areas where the leadership does not have a human development focus.

MH:       That’s discouraging, but it tells me where we need to change.

The story of Sandext is one that could be familiar in many organizations across the country. Younger employees stay with a company for an average of 3.2 years. Over time, the tenure with a company increases. In many cases, the problem in retaining younger employees is that they represent a different generation with different values. They want to make a difference and feel they are valued. They want a supportive boss who provides feedback and guidance. They want to be in a cooperative environment, and they want to be able to identify with the company’s values. Jobs have become an extension of how employees view their life’s purpose.

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“Your purpose in life is to find your purpose and give your whole heart and soul to it.” – Gautama Buddha

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