Good people—valuable employees—quit their jobs every day. Usually, they leave for better positions elsewhere. Consider the case of an experienced underwriter in a Northeastern Insurance Company named Kane, who scribbled the following remarks on his exit interview questionnaire: “This job isn’t right for me. I like to have more input on decisions that affect me—more of a chance to show what I can do. I don’t get enough feedback to tell if I’m doing a good job or not, and the company keeps people in the dark about where it’s headed. Basically, I feel like an interchangeable part most of the time”. In answer to the question about whether the company could have done anything to keep him, Ken replied simply, “Probably not.” Why do so many promising employees leave their jobs? And why do so many others stay on but perform at minimal levels for lack of better alternatives? One of the main reasons—Ken’s reason—can be all but invisible, because it’s so
common in so many organizations: a system wide failure to keep good people. Corporations should be concerned about employees like Ken. By investing in human capital, they may actually help reduce turnover, protect training investments, increase productivity, improve quality, and reap the benefits of innovative thinking and teamwork. Human resource professionals and managers can contribute to corporate success by boosting employees’ empowerment, security, identity, “connectedness,” and competence. How? By recognizing the essential components of keeping their best people and by understanding what enhances and diminishes those components. Ken doubts that his company will ever change, but other organizations are taking positive steps to focus on and enhance employee retention. As a result, they’re reducing turnover, improving quality, increasing productivity, and protecting their training investments.