There’s a saying … “People don’t quit jobs, they quit their boss.”
When you really think about it, it’s not that surprising. Leaders have a huge impact on their teams - one could argue the biggest impact out of all workplace variables - and this impact ultimately flows into a business’s staff turnover and retention rate. Of course, there are other considerations for staff leaving jobs, such as lack of recognition, being overworked, experiencing poor company culture and limited growth/career opportunities, but the number one reason employees quit their jobs is because of poor leadership.
At Sharp & Carter, our four guiding principles as leaders are “Trust, Care, Generosity and Humility” – and to reference an earlier article by Stephen Carter, the Sharp & Carter leadership group have collectively committed to “Exist to serve and care for our people to ensure individual fulfilment”. We believe in fostering an environment where staff feel supported emotionally, physically, mentally and financially.
In this article I wanted to take a moment to discuss which leadership qualities I believe are the core behaviours to master in order to have your impact as a leader positively impact your team, and in turn positively impact your turnover and retention rate.
1. Build-up rather than tear down – it’s important to remember that regardless of the situation or work pressures you’re experiencing, everyone is somebody’s wife, daughter, grandson or father and therefore deserve the same level of respect as you do. Good leaders communicate with and motivate their staff without yelling.
2. Confidence vs Humility – it’s a natural human trait to overestimate your value to an organisation and underestimate your contribution to its failures. Being aware of your own limitations and allowing your staff to see your vulnerabilities will help build a stronger personal connection, motivating them to want to be a part of a solution.
3. Lead by example - there is no better way to build a loyal employee than by being a leader who earns their respect. A leader who helps the team, gets their hands dirty and positively motivates others will garner a stronger following than someone who simply manages their employees’ daily duties. Actively demonstrate the values that you want to see in your employees, and they will follow suit.
4. Hire people who possess strengths you lack - the best leaders are not always the most well-rounded people, but those who create well-rounded teams. Successful leaders possess a keen self-awareness of their own weaknesses and surround themselves with others who excel in those areas.
5. Practice empowerment - good leaders set a clear vision, then get out of the way. If you have done a good job of building your team with smart, hardworking employees, then you do not need to micromanage their daily activities.
A study conducted by KPMG estimated the average staff turnover in the Australian recruitment industry to be between 30-40 per cent. When compared to other industries, this rate is similar to accommodation and food services (35 per cent), more than retail trade (25 per cent) and significantly more than education and training (13 per cent). The feedback attributed the recruitment sector’s high turnover to intense pressure and fast paced environments, as well as the high risk, high reward culture. As a general rule in recruitment, new recruiters are expected to achieve results quickly, or leave. The fast-paced nature of the sector also contributes to high levels of ‘staff burnout’, with many staff typically staying in the industry only for a year or two.
It's clear from this study that staff retention is a significant issue within our industry. Any experienced recruiter will tell you that building long-term relationships with clients and candidates is the foundation for future success. Furthermore, if you are an owner of a recruitment business and you are experiencing high staff turnover, logic would suggest business relationships are going to be compromised. It is estimated that the average cost of losing an employee to turnover is 33% of their annual salary, so not only is losing a staff member potentially bad for office morale, it’s also bad for cashflow.
So what impact is your leadership having? As mentioned, the leadership mantra at Sharp & Carter is that we “Exist to serve and care for our people to ensure individual fulfilment”. Our business is 100 per cent geared towards encouraging long-term employment and satisfaction for our staff across every area of their lives, and as a consequence of this leadership, our staff turnover for the past 5 and a half years has been less than 8 per cent, despite having increased our headcount from 15 to 120+ over the same period.
As far as we are concerned, not only do we get to experience the enjoyment of happy and engaged staff, we also get to see that the numbers speak for themselves.
Partner, Sharp & Carter
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