Out of all the elements that can contribute to stability for your business, employee retention might just be the biggest, affecting everything from daily operations to budgetary allotments and HR efforts. The latest Gallup research thus should make you hit pause for a moment. Their poll found that half (51 percent) of today's workers are looking for a new job or watching openings. If you don't like those odds, let's take a look at what's pushing so many people to jump ship.

New worker pressures and expectations, new employer role

Gallup asserts that workers do want perks such as flexible working locations, monetary bonuses, profit sharing, flextime and a retirement plan with defined benefits. But according to Alexi Robichaux, CEO of mobile-based coaching company BetterUp, even when employers offer these options, workers don't see them as attractive as the chance to grow as a person. In fact, millennials cite meaningful work and professional development as being the most important factor that indicates career success.

The bigger question then is, why has the chance to develop become so important?

"As work represents a larger share of the modern worker's life," Robichaux explains, "we find that employees are raising expectations on work to contribute more than just money to fund a meaningful life elsewhere--employees, especially millennials, are increasingly looking to work to provide meaning."

In other words, it's about a lack of balance. Whereas before people could put up with a ho-hum job because they could pursue fulfillment off the clock, now, likely because of factors such as increasing responsibilities, higher costs and the pressure to keep up with the Joneses, they don't have the same opportunity to be or figure out who they are outside of the office. If they have to be stuck at work, they want work to help them mentally, emotionally and creatively thrive. Traditional perks, Robichaux says, won't cut it for that, and the idea that they can compensate for meaning and purpose is short sighted.

"Perks like a solid 401K plan are a great start," Robichaux says, "but when workers ask for things like continuous feedback, measurable goals and greater creative flexibility, it is because they want to align their passions with their employment and bring their whole selves to work. They are looking to grow and develop as human beings in the context of work, not merely gain better work conditions."

Robichaux adds that the gap between what workers want and what employers offer exists because companies might not even realize how much a company benefits from employees having access to personal development.

"Supporting an employee's well-being on a deeper level than flex-time not only creates more engaged, productive and longer-standing employees, but also unlocks that creativity that will give companies a competitive advantage."

How to get your workers to stay

Personal coaching is on the rise for workers at all levels as a way to keep employees on payroll. Robichaux points to Logitech as an example of why.

"When Logitech employed coaching at scale as a benefit for their employees, levels of stress and burnout went down (23 and 18 percentile points, respectively), task focus went up by 38 percentile points, inspiration and optimism increased (14 and 13 percentile points, respectively) and as a result, positive workforce engagement behaviors also increased. People were feeling valued."

But if you're going to employ coaching, there are three critical elements to grasp.

1. Go beyond executive ranks. "Too often, only C-level executives receive regular 1:1 coaching. However, the core of a company culture is emerging leaders and mid-level talent who are influencing the front line employee behaviors on a daily basis."

2. Help employees find fulfillment in their work. Robichaux points to additional data from Gallup's 2017 State of the American Workplace report, which says that employees are most engaged when they can do what they do best. The tricky part about that, though, is that many workers have talents and skills they never get to show off. You have to unwrap what's hidden in everybody.

3. Authentically measure the effectiveness of your coaching program to get an ROI on your investment. "Most coaching measurement is limited to the employee's satisfaction, but attitudinal assessments, [such as] how useful or actionable they found their coaching session to be, are incredibly important. Through measurement, you want to discover if your coaching program is creating a more engaged, creative workforce."

Robichaux cautions against watering down the coaching experience, such as offering fewer sessions or experts, to save costs, as workers are looking for an experience that's personalized and highly efficacious. It's also important to design the coaching program understanding that workers are used to a mobile, on-demand way of living. And at the most basic level, listen to both your customers and employees--millennials are not shy about giving their opinions if you just ask.

To that last point, if you're on the employee side, Robichaux offers a reminder that, as a professional, you ultimately are responsible for your own development. "[Understand] that you likely want more feedback, accountability and support than your manager has bandwidth to provide," Robichaux says. "[...] To improve your skills and optimize your professional development in real time, we recommend always being proactive about seeking out a coach who can augment what your managers may or may not be able to provide at work."

Published on: Sep 26, 2017