Employee Retention 201- Ensure your Employee Can Do the Job

Shawnee Love   •  
March 29, 2010

Last week, I wrote about employee retention and the importance of getting the basics right. So assuming answered “yes” to all of last week’s questions, then you are ready to proceed to the next building block of retention which in my opinion is all about the job and what you ask your employees to do.

I see four requirements that need to be present for employees to stay in their jobs and perform well:

  1. They must have the abilities to do the job.
  2. They must know what their job entails.
  3. They must have the resources to do the job.
  4. They must want to do the job.

So for the next building block, all you need to do is ensure these four aspects are present in each position. However, as you may find out once you start working on these criteria, things aren’t as easy as they look.

It is my hope that I can provide you with some help getting started on ensuring each of the four factors are present for all the jobs in your organization as follows:

  1. Able to do the job– The first factor ties into your recruitment process, because it is through the hiring and promotion processes that you select people who have the knowledge, skills, and abilities (also known as KSAs) to do the job. To effectively select candidates who can do the job, you must know what the duties are and what KSAs (along with education, experience, and qualifications and certifications) that candidates must have to fit the role. If you have been paying attention to my blogs, you might remember my article on job descriptions and that is a great way to know which KSAs are needed to do the job and in doing so, you are halfway to completing requirement number 1. To achieve the requirement, you simply need to put employees in each role that hold the KSAs and that is done in the normal fashion: advertising for candidates, screening candidates through a combination of activities designed to find the best candidate for the position, making an offer and getting the candidate to accept.
  2. Knowledge of the job– Once you have a strong new employee or newly promoted employee, the next step is to ensure the employee knows what the job entails. This includes knowing the duties of the role and how to do them and what the goals are for the job. And if you really want to do this well, then help each employee understand where s/he fits in the organization, i.e., how his/her role contributes to the company’s success.
  3. Resourced to do the job– The next requirement is to ensure the employees have what they need to do the job. I recommend looking at this requirement from three angles:
    • First, you must give them the tools they need (and enough of them) to accomplish the work,
    • Second, the job must be achievable (i.e., not too much work or too challenging to make it impossible), and
    • Third, there shouldn’t be any barriers that prevent them from accomplishing the job. Reducing red tape, ensuring departments work together and tearing down silos are some effective ways to encourage productivity. You also have to ensure they are working for a supervisor who is enabling their success. When I first started in HR, a colleague told me that “People join companies and leave managers”. Each time I do an exit interview with an employee who complains about their supervisor, this saying pops into my head.
  4. Desire to achieve– With accomplishing the first three requirements, the challenge is in actually doing the work. However, with the fourth requirement, it is not so simple because how do you ensure your employees are motivated to do the work? First and foremost, you should be able to get a sense of the employee’s level of motivation during the recruitment process. But what happens when an employee has been in the role for years and it comes to your attention that they don’t seem to be motivated anymore. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but stay tuned because this topic is what I am going to be discussing in my blog over the coming weeks.

In the meantime, remember that through these factors, you are setting up each employee to succeed and increasing the likelihood they will stay. Success is addictive, and thus it is a powerful way to keep employees within your organization.