- Jessica Alexander
Employee turnover is an issue in many industries, but it hits drilling and environmental service companies especially hard to lose experienced employees with niche skill sets. Although every individual has his or her own motivations, surveys routinely identify supervisors and managers as key reasons people leave. Inc. writer Marcel Schwantes cites a recent TinyPulse survey examining employee exits: “After analyzing data from over 25,000 employees across the world from January to October 2018, their research trickles down to five reasons: 1) Poor management performance, 2) Lack of employee recognition, 3) Overworked employees, 4) Company culture is not a priority, and 5) No growth opportunities.”
An employee’s direct supervisor or manager can have a tremendous impact on these five factors. They are often responsible for managing performance expectations, recognizing high achievers, and ensuring employees are assigned a balanced and achievable workload. While company culture and growth opportunities are typically addressed at a higher level within the organization, immediate supervisors and managers are a company’s first line of defense against turnover and enhancing the company’s retention strategy.
Let’s walk through the five areas identified above, and discuss ways in which your organization can improve and increase employee retention.
If your company struggles with management performance, what can you do to address it? Oftentimes, the people who have been hired or promoted into supervisory roles were very good at their previous job and understand what it takes for their team to succeed—but communicating with and managing a team is an entirely different skill set. At Cascade, we have implemented a performance review process that provides managers with critical feedback to help them bridge any gaps and prepare for ongoing performance discussions with employees. At the same time, we changed salary merit increases and promotion requests to now require an updated performance review. These two changes have provided an opportunity to improve poor management performance if and where it exists, and affirms to employees that there is a system for recognizing their contributions.
Recognition doesn’t have to be a salary increase or a promotion. Your employees want to feel like their work is valued, which is why our Senior HR Generalist, Kathy Hewett, developed a recognition program here at Cascade. Among other things, she ensures employees are celebrated at their 5-year anniversary milestone by sending them gifts and giving “shout-outs” companywide. Our field services employees are also recognized via our ELITE program and safety initiatives.
Whether or not your organization has a formal program like the one Kathy created, your managers and direct supervisors are in the best position to ensure our employees receive recognition for their hard work. Encourage communication and involvement between managers and employees to ensure they feel appreciated on a day to day basis.
Since starting with Cascade in 2017, our Chief People Officer, Ken Moses, has pushed for stronger work-life balance. “Our employees work hard, and we want to encourage them to take time for themselves and their families,” he said. “With stronger work-life balance, our employees experience better overall health—physically, mentally, and emotionally. This leads to them being more engaged and focused on the job.”
The research agrees with Ken. Studies have shown employees who experience a strong sense of work-life balance remain with the company longer and have a higher level of overall job satisfaction. If your organization is taking a long-term approach to its staffing, you must develop policies and a culture that support employees achieving both personal and professional goals.
Many companies fall into their corporate culture—meaning, they were never intentional about how they wanted their workplace to be and feel for employees. If this describes your organization, all hope is not lost! You can still define and refine your culture, even if it isn’t currently as you wish it to be.
Our Chief Executive Office, John Cowdery, has taken a highly proactive role in Cascade’s culture. The culture, along with business strategy, influences who we are as an organization, our core purpose, and how we envision the future at Cascade. This roadmap for success not only frames our organization to become the Employer of Choice in our industry, but it provides a clear and transparent framework to our existing employees that highlight our company’s culture.
Employees want growth opportunities. They can be as simple as opportunities to learn new skills or a chance to mentor new employees, or perhaps more long-term like growing into a career promotion track.
Growth opportunities can be limited, however, which is why it is important to communicate what it takes to earn them. Our performance review process is centered around the idea of ensuring employees are armed with the information they need to enhance performance and move through their career successfully at Cascade. Further, the company provides particular incentives (such as a pay increase for obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License) that encourage our employees to take the next step in their career. With the mentorship of some of the most professional and elite drillers in the nation, our young field employees are given ample opportunities to learn and grow professionally, and our experienced employees have the opportunity to pass on what they know.
While we cannot eliminate turnover altogether, we can be aware of the leading factors related to high turnover and remain proactive in our approach to mitigating these risks. By doing so, we can retain our valued workforce longer and provide a stable and long-lasting career for our employees.