• Teresa Carey

Wake-up Call: The Mistakes You May Be Making to Drive Your Employees Away

Updated: Sep 17

The popular song by Paul Simon, “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover™”, could be recast in 2021 as, “50 Ways to Leave Your Employer.” With a tad of creative license applied to the lyrics, it might go something like this:


Jack is slipping out the back.

Stan is making a new plan.

Roy doesn’t need to be coy.

Gus is hopping off the bus.

There’s not much to discuss.

Lee is dropping off the key and your team members are and will continue to set themselves free

– unless you strategically plan ahead.

This new state of the workforce is quickly becoming known as “the great resignation”, recently coined by Texas A&M’s Professor Anthony Klotz. According to US News and World Report, the US Department of Labor latest statistics show a record 9.3 million job openings. During 2021, one in four workers are expected to leave their current jobs and four million left in the month of April alone. How many more will slip out the back or hop off the bus?

It’s not just the growing number of job openings and the confidence of economic recovery that’s luring workers away from their current roles.


It’s a new day. Life looks and is different. During this past year, many have learned the importance of self-empowerment and the allure of options. What’s deemed as important has taken on a new meaning. Timing and opportunity are colliding for those who are called to reset and exercise their options.


If you’re currently planning on or have already made any of the following mistakes, you’re increasing the probability of record turnover within your organization while scoring an “F” in employee engagement and retention.


The Three F’s That Will Drive Your Team Members Away


Mistake #1: Forcing everyone to come back to the office because you always have, and, ‘we all know people are more productive at the office.’ If your team has been working remotely, your workforce has normed to a different set of rules and behaviors. They may have an attachment to the arrangement for many reasons, and many believe they’re better working from home. Some of the reasons include the ability and convenience to co-manage family obligations, the energy derived from the extra time and space, or being in a job that simply doesn’t require a physical presence.


Truth bomb: If you believe everyone needs to be back at the office to be effective, then you may have a trust issue. If you don’t trust your team members, fire them and hire someone else. People who work hard and competently will always work hard and competently – regardless of their geography.


Mistake #2: Failure to recognize and commit to what really keeps people engaged. The ROI tenacles of engagement reach far beyond the more obvious outcomes. Workers want the advantage of contributing to the bigger picture and influencing innovation, as additional levers in impacting client satisfaction, financial results and shareholder value. According to Gallup, only 39% of our workforce is truly engaged by definition, up 3% from 2020.


How can 61 percent be completely disengaged? Because job satisfaction does not equal engagement. Because workers can be satisfied with their paycheck, their job contribution or their relationship with their team and still leave. True employee engagement, when collectively defined by Quantum Workplace, Willis Towers Watson and Aon Hewitt in the SHRM Engagement Toolkit boils down to the employee’s psychological and emotional investment to the organization’s success and the connection to their stake in contributing to this success – quite a few steps beyond job happiness quotient.


Mistake #3: Forgetting to Create Genuine Connection, Collaboration and a Culture that comes from Authentic Communication and Values-driven Behaviors. Some leaders have forgotten to keep the consistent and collaborative communication that engenders connectivity in the mix of both face to face and virtual work. The numbers of leaders who report the decrease in their cadence of consistent weekly or bi-weekly meetings, or even daily team standups is alarming. If you’re buying into the misconception that collaboration is only possible face to face, you’re mistaken. If you’re blaming a bad culture for inconsistent or ineffective leadership, that’s a tragedy. Frequent and authentic connection comes from being a committed and communicative coaching leader. Having skin in the game day in and day out with your team and their career growth will determine whether culture is strong enough to drive staying power for your most valuable resource.


If you want to avoid or correct these most common mistakes, it’s time for an engagement strategy. The optimal timing for formulating or rewriting an engagement strategy, is like getting a friend or a line of credit –before you really need it. What employers must have to avoid the great resignation is “the great revelation” on the non-negotiables to win the war on talent.


Writing a new song entitled, 50 Ways to Keep Your Employees will be the big hit of 2021. It goes something like this:


Create the new engagement plan, Stan.

Become retention savvy and coy, Roy.

Keep Gus on the bus. Realize there’s a lot you must discuss,

To keep Lee from dropping off the key,

And to keep your workforce intact and engaged - while still feeling free.