The Art of Employee Retention: A Conversation with Anne Donovan
As a podcaster, I’ve had the privilege of engaging in enlightening conversations with industry experts. One such conversation was with Anne Donovan, a seasoned professional in the human resources field. Our discussion centered on the critical topic of employee retention, a subject that Anne has dedicated over 20 years of her career to understanding and improving.
Anne Donovan: A Passion for Retention
Anne’s journey in the HR field began in operations, but her passion for people led her to transition into human resources. She shared her experience as an employment manager for a large hotel, where she was confronted with high turnover rates. Determined to make a difference, Anne delved into turnover and retention strategies, ultimately reducing turnover from 46% to 32% through surveys, training, and development. This success inspired her to focus on helping organizations, particularly small businesses, improve their retention practices.
The Role of HR: A Story of Redefinition
During our conversation, I shared a story about a friend who advocated for redefining the role of HR in a large global organization. He believed that by fixing managers, the company could avoid people problems. His idea was successful in a deployment in Afghanistan, but the headquarters couldn’t fully embrace it. This story underscores the importance of practical delivery and execution when it comes to employee retention and morale.
Leadership and Core Values: The Foundation of Retention
Anne agreed with the sentiment and explained that it starts with leadership and living the company’s core values in every aspect of the organization. She emphasized the significance of attracting the right talent through effective job postings and enticing candidates to interview. Anne also highlighted the importance of a strong onboarding process, as new hires often decide within the first few months whether they will stay with the company.
Hiring and Firing: A Delicate Balance
We also discussed the importance of effective hiring and firing practices, as well as employee engagement and motivation. We stressed the need for a team evaluation during the hiring process to ensure a comprehensive assessment of candidates. We also highlighted the importance of firing fast when an employee is not a good fit or is hindering the team. However, we emphasized the need for proper communication and coaching before making a termination decision.
The Fear of Firing: Addressing Managerial Concerns
We addressed the fear that managers may have when it comes to firing employees, particularly due to potential legal repercussions. We explained that there are legally supported ways to handle terminations and that managers should not allow poor performance or behavior to persist for too long, as it can negatively impact the team.
The Power of Feedback: The “Big Five” Tool
We also discussed the value of frequent feedback and coaching moments for all employees. We mentioned a tool called the “big five,” where employees list their accomplishments and priorities each month, providing a basis for discussions with managers. This tool has benefits such as easier annual reviews and the ability to track progress and address performance issues early on.
Recognition and Goal Setting: Key to Employee Motivation
We concluded by discussing the importance of recognition and goal setting in employee motivation. We emphasized that recognition doesn’t have to be extravagant or costly, but rather specific and timely. We also expressed our preference for setting challenging goals that employees can be proud of when achieved.
Leadership in Motivating and Engaging Employees
We highlighted three key aspects of effective leadership: empowerment, communication, and recognition. Empowerment is about giving employees the support and resources they need to succeed. Communication is about proactively addressing issues and concerns with team members. Recognition is about understanding what motivates each individual and tailoring recognition efforts accordingly.
Celebrating Wins: The Final Piece of the Puzzle
Finally, we discussed the importance of celebrating wins. When a team or individual achieves a significant milestone, it’s essential to acknowledge and celebrate their success. This can be done in various ways, such as allowing the team to leave early, organizing a team outing, or simply expressing gratitude and appreciation.
In conclusion, our conversation with Anne Donovan was a deep dive into the world of employee retention. It highlighted the importance of leadership, communication, recognition, and celebrating wins in creating a positive work environment and retaining top talent.
Anne is a Human Resources leader known for dramatically improving employee retention. Some of her successes include leading culture shifts during difficult times, spearheading leadership development programs, and creating succession plans to ensure strong futures for organizations.
She has a talent for spotting the potential in people and she is passionate about supporting people so they can realize their full potential. Leading with a People-First Philosophy, she helps companies and people thrive.
Anne’s website: https://donovanhrsolutions.com/
Anne’s LinkedIn is: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anne-donovan-sphr-shrm-scp/
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