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Admit That Your Employees Are Looking

Here's a cold, hard truth: Your employees are looking for other jobs. In CEO Kathleen Quinn Votaw's new book, Solve the People Puzzle: How High Growth Companies Attract and Retain Top Talent, she reminds employers that their employees are continuously looking for other jobs or being approached by recruiters. In fact, according to a 2015 Career Builder survey, three out of four employed workers are open to or actively looking for new career opportunities.

Your Employees Are Looking -- Or Being Looked at by Competitors

This reality can be hard for many employers to stomach. Even if you think you have a great work environment and happy employees, the likelihood is that some of them are not telling you what they are really thinking. But ignoring the fact that the majority of your employees have their resumes up on LinkedIn and have likely been contacted by recruiters or headhunters will only land you in trouble. Too many executives focus only on recruiting for open positions and neglect the fact that EVERY position in the company is ultimately vulnerable.

Encouraging Employee Communication

Once you've accepted the fact that your employees are looking for other jobs, what can you do about it? First of all, you should constantly be thinking, "How am I treating my people, and what can I do to make them happy?" The very best way to retain your valued employees is to figure out what makes them happy in their job - and the best way to figure that out is to ASK THEM. Instead of holing up in a conference room to discuss the issue with other executives, you should be out in the office actually talking to people and finding out what they like and don't like about their jobs.

What if your employees actually felt comfortable coming to you and saying, "I don't feel like I'm being challenged" or "I think my skills could be better put to use in another capacity" or "I don't feel like my work here is valued." As an employer, you need to be courageous and allow yourself to be open to these conversations--your employees need to know they can say these things without fear of retribution. And then you need to thoughtfully consider what the right approach should be. In some cases, you might have a different role in your company that would be a better match. In other cases, it might open the door for an honest conversation about how the employee can transition out of your company and into a more suitable role somewhere else. Ultimately, it's to no one's advantage to have unhappy employees with one foot out the door.

Next week, we'll share more from Kathleen's book about why employees quit and what you can do about it. In the meantime, though, if you are ready to see all of these great insights in one place, you can purchase your copy of Solve the People Puzzle here.

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