The problem is particularly pronounced among Millennial employees, who not only have youthful idealism driving them to greener pastures but also often have less holding them to boring jobs. But the basic problem holds for employees of any age.
Talented people want to keep learning. Employers often want successful employees to keep doing exactly what they're currently doing. Out of this basic mismatch in incentives comes a lot of grumpy workers and expensive staff churn.
So, with a problem that fundamental, is there anything you can do about it?
Offer your people a bungee jump.
Actually, yes, suggests a recent Medium post from Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes. In it, Holmes explains a new program his company is testing to see if it can retain restless talent and save itself all the costs associated with finding, hiring, and training new people. It's built on a simple observation.
"Great employees are great employees. It's not the particular skill set that sets them apart, as much as their intrinsic attitude, focus and dedication. And all of these things can transfer readily from role to role," writes Holmes. The inevitable conclusion? It's better to retrain an already proven performer for a new role if they have itchy feet, than to waste time and money trying to find another top employee to take their place.
The question is how exactly can you do that without disrupting your business and creating a game of musical chairs among curious employees? Holmes' post gives a detailed answer to this question, and you should definitely check it out if you're thinking of implementing anything similar, but the short answer is steal from Google.
The search giant offers its employees a chance to go professional bungee jumping. No, not literally. The "bungee program" at Google "empowers employees to plunge into an entirely different department for a brief period," Holmes explains. Houtsuite used this idea as its inspiration, modifying it slightly to end up with a program where successful employees who have been with the company over a year can sign up to test out a new role in another department one day a week for a quarter, given their supervisor approves.
So, did it work?
How's this idea working out for Hootsuite? Holmes explains the pilot program is only a few months old, so firm conclusions are hard to draw at this stage. But things are looking promising.
"Employees who participate get a chance to try out a new calling, without ever leaving the company.... They build a professional network that extends beyond their team and add a new skill to their toolkit. In the best-case scenario, they actually find a brand new career," writes Holmes.
As for the company, it "gets to retain smart, passionate employees who want to grow and evolve. Corporate silos are broken down and employees gain insight -- and empathy -- into other areas of the business," he reports.
Of course, this sort of program wouldn't work for the smallest businesses, but it might be worth considering if your company is big enough to provide new growth opportunities for your A-players.
Would you consider testing out such a scheme?